The Lost Art of the Self-Portrait /

Frida Kahlo, “Fulang Chang and I,” (1937) (image via Flickr)

Frida Kahlo, “Fulang Chang and I,” (1937) (image via Flickr)

CHICAGO — The selfie is a smartphone-produced version of the self-portrait, which has been a staple of art and photography history since artists first began seeing examining their own images in the mirror. The selfie series here on Hyperallergic has mostly utilized images shot mostly with smartphone cameras, a way for the one shooting the picture to see themselves the way they would like to be seen. Thus far, the selfies have concentrated mostly on twins, mirrors, and the philosophical implications of disseminating the selfie via social networks and the internet, wherein the selfie can receive validation from their social circle.

In the selfie mode of photography, there is no outside photographer with a camera shooting them the way they see them. But selfies are not necessarily self-empowering; through their social network dissemination, they appear decontextualized, awash in a sea of internet anonymity. A selfie is a selfie is a selfie. But what about a self-portrait? Here are five art historical self-portraits that are predecessors to the modern-day selfie. Put your smartphone away (or let it die, like I just did), take a look in a John Berger-esque way, and remember what life was like before those mini-interruptions that we like to call iMessages, texts and ongoing gchat-like conversations presented you with more faces that you’d care even to see IRL.

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This post originally ran on Hyperallergic: