Verso: Lower left, inscribed in black ink by the artist’s studio assistant Bradley Jeffries: “POSTCARD SELF-PORTRAIT, BLACK MOUNTAIN, 1950 (II) #1”
These "impossible" images not only inaugurate one of photography's most prolific genres, but also (as a subgenre) the costume self-portrait, which in postmodern photography, steeped in poststructuralist critique of representation, takes on a particular meaning.
It is evident, however, that since the very early days of photography, but particularly in contemporary photography, artists have developed strategies to contest this prototype of self-portraiture that presupposes the personal identity of the photographer and the photographed and subsequently identifies every self-photography with self-portraiture .
Contrary to the ordinary photograph, a self-portrait is defined from both sides of the camera: the side of the photographer (it's me who made the image) and the side of the photographed (it's me who has been photographed , to whom the image refers to).
Selfportraiture , says Derrida in Memoirs of the Blind, is the act of claiming of an image to be one's selfportrait (definition necessarily tautological).3 Usually, this is done by the artist's signature and the title "self-portrait" (or any other title referring to the artist's name).
40* N k a Journal of Contemporary African Art SELF-PORTRAIT/SELF-VISION THE WORK OF SAMUEL FOSSO Ingrid Hdlzl T his essay takes the work of Samuel Fosso as the starting point of my reflections—not in an attempt to reveal the genuine features of African self-portraiture but to examine a work that is exclusively self-photographic with regard to subject theory and the logics of representation that are at work in a self-photographic setting (situation).
Even so, Gerstl cannily absorbed the trends of the day, showing an easymastery of a variety of styles. He created tinged by symbolism; rendered in pointillist technique, with pastel colors reminiscent ofBonnard and Vuillard; and, most strikingly, a series of starkself-portraits unmistakably influenced by van Gogh. Eleven of theself-portraits will be at the Neue Galerie, and they have an unsettlingeffect: the artist seems to have an unfixed sense of his own identity,at times presenting himself as a and at other times as a . (Gerstl scholars have speculated that he cut his hair short in periodsof depression, although he may simply have been imitating the playwrightFrank Wedekind, whose close-cropped-convict look was later adopted byBrecht.) The portraits radiate a mixture of self-fascination andself-disgust—narcissism turning on itself.
The prototypical self-portrait is thus made with the aid of a delayed-action shutter release that allows the photographer to pass in front of the Hippolyte Bayard, Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man, 1840.
With the portrait, Durer's highly self-conscious approach to his status as an artist coveys his exalted mission of art more clearly than in any other painting....
In this carefully staged photograph of the artist lying beneath one of his own canvases, the majority of the composition is devoted to the unswept studio floor, inverting the usual relationship between horizon and foreground. As Postcard Self-Portrait, Black Mountain (II) (1952) attests, Robert Rauschenberg became deeply engaged with mid-century experimental and abstract photography while studying at Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1948 and 1952. His early explorations of the medium were influenced in part by figures such as Hazel Larsen Archer (1921–2001), who taught at the school from 1949 to 1953, and Aaron Siskind (1903–1991) and Harry Callahan (1912–1999), who were summer faculty there in 1951.
A bold mixture of double exposures, experiments with extreme light and shadow, abstraction, and the use of blueprint paper to generate photographs without a camera, Rauschenberg’s earliest experimental photographs often doubled as portraits of his closest companions and interlocutors, including fellow artists such as his then wife Susan Weil (b. 1930), Cy Twombly (1928–2011), and dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009). Self-portraits were also a recurring subject. , taken the same year as its counterpart, features Rauschenberg seated in a wooden chair, hands folded, with ghostly images of chairs and weeds washing over his body.
Portraying the questioning spirit of the Renaissance, Durer's conviction that he must examine and explore his own situation through capturing the very essence of his role as artist and creator, is reflected in the Self-portrait in a Fur Collared Robe (Strieder 10).
Much like that poetic multiple exposure, Postcard Self-Portrait, Black Mountain (II) explores the fleeting presence of the artist’s body within the setting of the photographic frame. Rauschenberg is compressed between an abstract painting, a set of striped mattresses, and the vast expanse of his studio floor, and his slightly blurred face and knee suggest that he triggered a timer and then raced back for the exposure, nearly missing his own portrait in the process. Awkwardly squashed between his bedding and the upper edge of the print, the artist has carefully flattened himself, allowing us to see the bottom few inches of a large painting on the rear wall, hung just above the floor. The canvas in question is one of his Black paintings, a group of works with which Rauschenberg was deeply involved when this photograph was taken. By setting his camera at an extremely low point, perhaps on the floor, Rauschenberg created a dramatically angled view in which he appears wedged into the wall of his studio, his body geologically layered between his artwork and his creative space.