Me, Myself, I: Artists’ Self-Portraits


96 pages / 270 x 210mm
ISBN 978-1-911408-88-8
Publication Spring 2022

Authors: Tessa Jackson and Dr Lara Perry

  • 300 years of self-portraiture offering a context to the current interest in self-representation and the selfie
  • Discussion of major artists and how they saw themselves – not necessarily how society saw them or we see them today
  • New research on how artists use self-portraiture as a personal as well as public tool for discussing the complexities of identity and post-colonialism in Britain today
  • Self-portraiture traditionally was achieved through the use of mirrors; now it offers us a mirror on society across the centuries – what was acceptable, important, fashionable or needed to be de-bunked
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Me, Myself, I – Artists’ Self-Portraits will explore self-portraiture by artists based in Britain between 1722 and 2022. It will discuss the ways and traditions through which artists have presented themselves and how the genre has increasingly offered the means to take control and re-present oneself, often challenging society to re-think its social mores. It will provide an illuminating overview and contextual backstory to our current interest in self-representation and the selfie.

Self-portraits can go beyond the professional towards the personal, with self-examination offering both analysis and psychoanalysis. Some artists have made multiple self-portraits over time, reflecting on how we are subject to change. Others have explored issues they have identified with, including the agency of women or the breaking of taboos around sexuality. Self-portraiture has also been a way of promoting oneself, ensuring artistic survival and long-term recognition. Since the 1940s it has played an important role for artists in expressing the complexities of identity and post-colonialism in Britain.

The publication will accompany an exhibition at the RWA, Bristol, curated by Tessa Jackson OBE, 2 May – 19 June 2022. The exhibition will comprise more than 70 works, with historical material on loan from Britain’s national and regional museums, with modern and contemporary material coming direct from artists’ studios and collectors’ homes.