The current exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery is so interesting and adapted to all ages that I have visited it twice: first alone and then with my kids. The purpose of this event is to explore the history of the selfie over time, from great artists from the past to present time. And the way we express ourselves says a lot about our creativity as well as it questions the use of smartphones in our lives today.
Self-portraits from old masters
We are quite used to seeing self-portraits made by renowned artists like Van Gogh, Rembrandt…. Portraits have always been the way for artists to either gain popularity or express their personalities, status, even history through their own image.
The Saatchi highlights many of these famous self-portraits and confronts them with current technologies: each visitor is able to like the portraits and directly influence their popularity.
Bringing these iconic paintings from the past into the current digital age stresses on the role of visibility and network in the process of fame: even if technologies seems to give a better and easier exposure to artists today, do they really facilitate success?
Selfies as assertiveness
Selfies give a portrayal of a society. It is also a way to demonstrate one artist’s technical skills, like Cezanne or Picasso did to assert their own style.
Nowadays, artists often master many technics, and their self-portraits allow them to affirm the evolution in their style over the years …
Here above Chuck Close made 2 self-portraits 30 years apart.
I love the way artists can use famous paintings and adapt them to current technologies. Here above, Idris Khan has layered the eyes of all Rembrandt’s self-portraits and reduced them to the same size to obtain this new artwork of the artist’s entire life. It almost gives a 3D version of the artist. Impressive!
Selfies and celebrity/ies
Smartphones provide great opportunities. While a standard camera make the photographer feel alone when he takes pictures of people, smartphones have given the opportunity to photographers to be at the same level of their subjects.
But it also can result in awkward situations, as this panel demonstrates. At the top Hillary Clinton shares a picture with Meryl Streep which seems appreciated by both parts. In my opinion, the other picture shows the limit of such selfies. People get their selfies with a celebrity. But this one is being isolated as all these people are standing with their backs to her… From an external perspective, it is a bit awkward.
This is my favorite part of the exhibition. Showing how clever art can be when it comes to interact with spectators.
Daniel Rozin created this ” Pom Pom Mirror” to recreate participants silhouettes “by using a computer-vision controlled by hundreds of motors”. Whenever you move in front of it, the artwork evolves with dark or white colors moving… Stunning!
Same process with another abstract-painting style also made by Daniel Rozin.
The video is on my Facebook Page.
And last but not least, the favorite artistic effect for my kids: smoke coming from the eyes and following our moves…
This artwork had great success among spectators and I personally thought of a mix between comics and movies when experiencing this.
The exhibition has been extended until 23rd July. It is a wonderful opportunity to discover the creative potential of self-expression and to question ourselves about its evolution over the years. Have fun!
To find out more:
The Saatchi Gallery: King’s Road London – SW3 4RY