Saatchi Gallery: From Selfie to Self Expression

Visited new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, which it says of itself the first exhibition to look at the history of selfies by comparing portrait paintings of the old Masters such as Rembrandt, through modern painting and finally selfies.


It was valuable to see how galleries/authoritative spaces are presenting art in the context of selfies. The first part of the exhibition, had self portraits by famous artists on a touch screen phone that you could tap if you liked and the image was blown up as a larger screen, acting as the painting itself. Referring back to the idea that portraiture in painting is an examination of the self, and as such each painting deserves to be studied – the fact that you could just tap and like the picture helped to make the interaction with the work much quicker. More interesting as opposed to good/bad.





I had never seen the work of Egon Schiele and liked it straight away. It was a similar experience to when I saw Francis Bacon paintings for the first time. Despite their work being different I was drawn in by their individual techniques used in their painting to characterise a person.


Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul-Satre (1929). Post World War 1, this fun fair attraction was known as the ‘photo-shooting gallery’. When the customer hit the bullseye a camera triggered, winning them a snapshot of themselves in the act of shooting.

This photo was one of 2 in the gallery that really caught my interest. It reminded me immediately of an article I read called Aesthetic Consumerism and the Violence of Photography: What Susan Sontag Teaches us about Visual Culture and the Social Web.

Sontag thinks of aggression in photography as purposeful manipulation of reality through idealised photographic imagery and ‘aggressive self-framing’.

She also spoke of photography as it became a more accessible past time for the masses as:

‘It is mainly a social rite, a defence against anxiety, and a tool of power

I wonder if I could recreate a ‘photo-shooting gallery’ for my work?????


This photo of Hilary Clinton was my favourite piece in the whole exhibition, absolutely mental. I’d never even considered that at presidential rallies or similar events where there’s a kind of frenzy to it that is is what it would actually look like. And the photo is bizarre because it’s an odd place for Hilary to stand. It’s like the whole event is designed for the public to be able to take a selfie with her.






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