Touted as the world’s leading museum on social media, it makes sense that Saatchi Gallery would present the first art exhibition to explore the history of the selfie. And due to its phenomenal success, From Selfie to Self-Expression has been extended for a second time until September.
For centuries, artists have captured their likeness in various media, from oil paint to photographic film. Whether representational or abstract, self-portraiture has enabled artists to experiment with methods of self-portrayal.
From Selfie to Self-Expression takes an alternative look at self-portraiture, from Rembrandt and Vincent Van Gogh to present-day celebrity selfies, including those of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump and includes the winner of the #SaatchiSelfie exhibition Dawn Woolley.
The show brings the works into the digital realm by displaying them on giant screens in a similar format to Instagram, so you can like the wide range of self portraits by a plethora of famous artists, as if you followed them.
From old master paintings like Diego Velázquez’s highly regarded Las Meninas (below) that depicts the artist at his easel painting the Spanish Royal family, to Rembrandt’s luminous self-portrait with palette and brushes, paintings that would not normally be able to travel can be exhibited next to one another.
Other key works include more contemporary artists like Chuck Close (below), who has studied his own face with hyperreal precision for the past four decades, and art chameleon Cindy Sherman, who’s explored female identity through her conceptual self-portraits.
You can also get interactive in Zoom Pavilion, the first collaboration between Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Krzysztof Wodiczko. The installation uses facial recognition technology to detect your presence.
And no exhibition about self-portraiture would be complete without the inclusion of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who used painting as a means of self-expression and therapy.
You no longer need to be an ‘artist’ to portray your own image. With the digital era comes a 21st-century upgrade on the self-portrait, the proliferation of the selfie.
To highlight the emergence and phenomena of the smartphone selfie, 10 young British photographers were commissioned to create new works using the newest smartphone by the exhibition’s partner Huawei.
Fitted with a dual lens and co-engineered with legendary photographic manufacture Leica, the resulting photographs reveal the scope and potential of smartphone photography.
One of the most exciting aspects of the show has been the open call for artists, photographers and enthusiasts around the globe to have their ‘most creative selfies’ exhibited as part of the #SaatchiSelfie competition.
On March 30, Dawn Woolley’s was announced as the winner for her image, The Substitute (Holiday). Chosen from 14,000 entries by an eminent jury that included Tracey Emin, Idris Khan, Juno Calypso and Juergen Teller, Wooley’s image is on view with a small selection of the other best selfies from the competition.
So get out your camera and start striking a pose like Rembrandt or Emin.
From Selfie to Self-Expression is at Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4RY until September 6, 2017.