Strange auto-portraits

Strange auto-portraits

Durer. Self-Portrait at Twenty-Eight Years Old Wearing a Coat with Fur Collar

Self-Portrait or  a painting on wood panel by the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer. Painted early in 1500, just before his 29th birthday, it is the last of his three painted self-portraits. It is considered the most personal, iconic and complex of his self-portraits, and the one that has become fixed in the popular imagination

The self-portrait is most remarkable because of its resemblance to many earlier representations of Christ. Art historians note the similarities with the conventions of religious painting, including its symmetry, dark tones and the manner in which the artist directly confronts the viewer and raises his hands to the middle of his chest as if in the act of blessing.

Francis Ford Coppola used “Self-portrait” by Albrecht Durer in his film “Dracula”.

 Michelangelo. The Last Judgement

 Just below the figure of Christ, are St Lawrence holding a ladder (this symbolizes the saint’s martyrdom on a grate over hot coals). St Bartholomew holds a sheet of his own skin in his left hand and in his right hand is a knife. This symbolizes the terrible fate of Bartholomew who was flayed alive. The face on the skin is reputed to be a self-portrait of the artist.

Caravaggio. David with the Head of Goliath

On May 1606 Caravaggio was accused of murder and fled from Rome to distant lands (Naples, Sicily, Malta) to escape the price that had been placed on his head. His self-portrait as Goliath’s severed head, held by David his executioner, was sent to the papal court in 1610 as a kind of painted petition for pardon. In fact pardon was granted, but did not reach Caravaggio before he died in Porto Ercole.

In his David with the Head of Goliath, Caravaggio pays tribute to the rapid brushstrokes Titian adopts in his later works and surrounds the youth’s face with a kind of luminous halo that shines out from the dark, earthy tints surrounding the figure. David assumes the pose traditional for allegories of Justice, with a sword in the right hand but with scales instead of the head in the left. The relation to Christ, who is the ultimate judge as well as savior, is evident. David may sorrow, but even in his compassion he bears the burden of the dispensation of justice firmly. Caravaggio’s sardonic representation of himself as Goliath is despairing. It is a harrowing portrait, streaming blood, the forehead bruised and the eyes uncoordinated, the lingering spark of life in the left eye extinguished in the dull, unfocused, sightless, and lifeless right. The contrast of this image with the vigor of David’s youth is between death and life, not only of the body but also of the soul. Caravaggio has portrayed himself as damned. But his criminal escapades and the sexual irregularity intimated in his early pictures were too banal to have in themselves inspired such a sobering image. So severe a self-judgment must have been generated by a more profound spiritual malaise, whether Oedipal or Christian in origin we can only guess.ШАГАЛ

Chagall. The walk 

As a pioneer of modernism and one of the greatest figurative artists of the 20th century, Chagall achieved fame and fortune, and over the course of a long career created some of the best-known paintings of our time.


Schiele. Autoportrait

In his early years, Schiele was strongly influenced by Klimt and Kokoschka. Although imitations of their styles, particularly with the former, are noticeably visible in Schiele’s first works, he soon evolved his own distinctive style.


Frida Kahlo. Two Fridas

This painting was completed shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera. This portrait shows Frida’s two different personalities. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume, with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. In Frida’s dairy, she wrote about this painting and said it is originated from her memory of an imaginary childhood friend. Later she admitted it expressed her desperation and loneliness with the separation from Diego.

In this painting, the two Fridas are holding hands. They both have visible hearts and the heart of the traditional Frida is cut and torn open. The main artery, which comes from the torn heart down to the right hand of the traditional Frida, is cut off by the surgical pincers held in the lap of the traditional Frida. The blood keeps dripping on her white dress and she is in danger of bleeding to death. The stormy sky filled with agitated clouds may reflect Frida’s inner turmoil.

Frida Kahlo. My birth

At the encouragement of her husband Diego, Frida embarked upon a project to document the major events of her life in a series of paintings. In this painting, her first in the series, she depicts, as she put it, “…how I imagined I was born.” In her diary, Frida comments that in this painting she “gave birth to herself”. A frighteningly large head emerges from the mother’s womb…. unmistakably the head of Frida. The half-born baby drooping into a puddle of blood may refer to the child that Frida had just lost in a miscarriage. The head of the mother is covered by a sheet… a reference to the recent death of her own mother. In place of the dead mother’s hidden face, Frida painted the face of the weeping “Virgin of Sorrows” in a picture above the bed. Pierced by daggers and in tears, the Virgin looks on but cannot save the situation.

Although this painting was painted in the style of an “ex-voto retablo”, Frida didn’t inscribed the unfurled scroll at the bottom. Perhaps she felt there were no words that could describe the sadness she felt over the death of her mother or the childhood memories she must have recalled as she painted this “life & death” drama.



Bacon.Study for a Self-Portrait—Triptych, 1985–86

is a triptych painted between 1985 and 1986 by the Irish born artist Francis Bacon. The work is an acknowledgement and examination of the effect of age and time on the human body and spirit, and was painted after a period in which many of the artist’s close friends had died.

Although widely considered a masterpiece and one of Bacon’s most personal works, the triptych is at the same time one of his least experimental and most conventional paintings. Bacon believed that the fatigue of old age and the complications of fame lead him to appreciate simplicity as a virtue of its own, a sentiment which he attempted to transfer into his work. Bacon’s only full-length self-portrait, the triptych was described by art critic David Sylvester as “grand, stark, ascetic”.

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