a blog with cultural bulimia.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Self-Portrait as Obscure Object of Desire
Finding in other men the mythology of the self: Jack Pierson's 'Self Portrait No. 4.'
Portraiture has always revealed as much about the artist as the subject. If you think about the difference between portraits by Richard Avedon and Robert Mapplethorpe, each photographer has a signature style. Remove the names of their subjects and you're left with a collection of portraits that become as much a self-portrait as the artist's own likeness. In effect, Mr. Pierson has taken that idea one step further by omitting the names of his subjects, assuming their identities and calling his collection "Self Portrait."

Picasso, unsatisfied with the face of his portrait of Gertrude Stein after 80 sittings, painted one based on a mask of an Iberian sculpture. When people protested that the portrait did not resemble the subject, he is said to have commented: "Everybody thinks she is not at all like her portrait, but never mind. In the end, she will manage to look just like it."