Instantly Iconic: The Oh-So Unique Self Portraits of Artists

Ever wonder what artists think of themselves? Here are 10 paintings that may tell us.

From Modernists to Impressionists, these artists loved a good selfie as much as we all do. But without a smartphone handy, they took their snaps in paint. Check out some of the most infamous, and should-be-famous, selfies gone artistic.

10 Chuck Close

Chuck Close has famously played with portraiture for decades, and eventually turned his eye onto himself with this comically shocked face.

Self Portrait, Chuck Close, 1988 (From the collection of the National Academy of Design)

9 Frida Kahlo

Frida was an expert selfie taker in paint form, and her inclusion of animals whisked in a sense of whimsy. (They’ve been said to represent the kids she didn’t have with Diego Rivera)

Self-portrait with Small Monkey, Frida Kahlo, 1945 (From the collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo)

8 Parmigianino

He may sound like a cheese, but this artist’s work was anything but. His intriguing fisheye lens perspective was remarkably ahead of his time and added a touch of humor.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1523/1524 (From the collection of Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien)

7 Vincent Van Gogh

Maybe the most famous of the bunch for his self-portraits, but it’s worth noting that Van Gogh showed his many sides, but never the earless one.

Self-portrait with straw hat, Vincent Van Gogh, March 1887-June 1887 (From the collection of the Van Gogh Museum)

6 Diego Rivera

Rivera’s anything but serious. He even called himself “the Great Señor Frog-Toad”, playing up his bugged eyes in this picture he gave to his daughter, Ruth.

Self-portrait, Diego Rivera, 1954 (From the collection of Museo Dolores Olmedo)

5 Nora Heysen

Nora’s portrait helped her emerge from the shadow of her artist dad, and playfully referenced Vermeer’s style, giving that classic European style her own confident twist as a female artist.

Self portrait, Nora Heysen, 1932 (From the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales)

4 Johann Zoffany

Johann’s old school-style selfie showed him as David slaying Goliath. It was a pretty bold self-confident move, and one that played up his youthful beauty a little braggingly.

Self-portrait as David with the head of Goliath, Johan Zoffany, 1756 (From the collection of National Gallery of Victoria)

3 Ivan Albright

Ivan’s self-portrait was a labor of love - it took him over six years to finish it. Like Diego, he was a man of so little ego, he showed every wrinkle and wild hair on his face.

Self-Portrait, Ivan Albright, 1951 (From the collection of National Academy of Design)

2 Alice Bailly

Alice amusingly played with Dada movement when she decided to turn her brush on herself. It’s a playful take, emphasizing parts of her body while playing peekaboo with one half of her face.

Self-Portrait, Alice Bailly, 1917 (From the collection of National Museum of Women in the Arts)

1 Edvard Munch

Munch earns the top spot for his striking piece, showing his face honestly against the inky backdrop and weaving in a reference to the ever-present mortality with the skeleton arm draped across the bottom of the frame. Talk about a chillingly stylish portrait.

Self-Portrait, Edvard Munch, 1895 (From the collection of the Munch Museum, Oslo)
Written by Jesse Aylen
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