press release

First significant exploration of self-portrait painting across 500 years Major autumn exhibition of 55 self portraits in oil by 55 artists Important loans - some will be seen in the UK for the first time

SELF PORTRAIT: Renaissance to Contemporary is the first large-scale exhibition to bring artists’ own images together from across periods and places within the tradition of western painting. From van Eyck to Jenny Saville, visitors will enjoy many portraits rarely seen outside the collections and cities in which they are permanently displayed. The appeal of this genre of painting is well known, and this exhibition explores the diversity of the image through which the artist is represented.

Sponsored by Channel 4, this major exhibition brings together a painted self-portrait by each of 55 of the world’s greatest artists from 1433 right up to the present day, including 14 by women painters. Works by artists renowned for their self-portraits such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, Kahlo and Bacon will be included alongside works by less well-known artists such as Pieter van Laer, Johannes Gumpp and Hans Thoma, whose self-portraits are of exceptional quality and interest. The international range of artists represented includes Carracci, Velázquez, Hogarth, Kauffmann, Courbet, Warhol, Hopper and Freud.

Focusing on the self-portrait through oils, SELF PORTRAIT: Renaissance to Contemporary traces continuity and change in this genre over 500 years and the particular importance of the medium of oil paint to its development. It is especially concerned with the ways in which portrait likenesses can express the creativity and inventiveness of the artist. The exhibition includes seven early works from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the collection of self-portraits begun by the Medici - now displayed in the “Vasari corridor”- is the most important and famous group of self-portraits in the world. Other important loans come from the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. British loans come from the Royal Collection, The National Gallery, Tate and English Heritage.

A new large self-portrait by the American artist Chuck Close is being painted especially for the exhibition. This exhibition is jointly organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia. It is curated by Anthony Bond, Head Curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Dr Joanna Woodall, Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “We are all fascinated by how artists have scrutinised themselves. By showing the different ways in which artists have chosen to paint their own image the exhibition opens up questions of consciousness, process and identity. A number of collections have been very generous in offering some extremely important loans.”

Channel 4 will be showing a major new three-part series Self Portraits: The Me Generation presented by art critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings who looks at artists' self-portraits through the ages from the Renaissance to the present day. As well as featuring some of the paintings in the exhibition each episode features a contemporary artist making a self-portrait especially for the series. Julian Opie creates an image of himself using digital cameras, laptops and animation. Martin Maloney paints himself on a massive canvas in just a few hours. And Matthew Collings visits the studio of Bob and Roberta Smith to watch a self-portrait being created from scrap wood and sign writing

To complement SELF PORTRAIT, the third exhibition in the Gallery’s three-year Reaching Out Drawing In project Look at Me will run from 24 September 2005 to 19 March 2006 in the Studio Gallery. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Look at Me will display work created by young people from across the UK in a wide variety of media including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and video.

There will also be a display of self-portrait photographs in the Bookshop Gallery, a guide to self-portraits in the Gallery’s own collection, and a series of related talks and special events.

PUBLICATION A fully illustrated book accompanies the exhibition with essays by Anthony Bond, Joanna Woodall, T J Clark, Ludmilla Jordanova and Joseph Leo Koerner. Self Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary will be published in October 2005, 300 x 245mm, 224 pages with 140 illustrations.


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Self Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary
Organisation: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Portrait Gallery, London
Kuratoren: Anthony Bond, Joanna Woodall

20.10.05 - 29.01.06 National Portrait Gallery, London
17.02.06 - 14.05.06 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Werke von Allesandro Allori, Cristofano Allori, Sofonisba Anguissola, Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Pierre Bonnard, Annibale Carracci, Paul Cézanne, Giorgio De Chirico, Chuck Close, Lovis Corinth, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Gerrit Dou, Marlene Dumas, Anthonis van Dyck, Jan van Eyck, Gerlach Flicke, Lavinia Fontana, Lucian Freud, Artemisia Gentileschi, Vincent van Gogh, Johannes Gumpp, Richard Hamilton, William Hogarth, Edward Hopper, Jacob Jordaens, Frida Kahlo, Angelica Kauffmann, Leon Kossoff, Pieter-Jacobsz van Laer, Sabine Lepsius, Judith Leyster, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Sidney Nolan, Rembrandt, Joshua Reynolds, Gerhard Richter, John N. Robinson, Salvator Rosa, Peter Paul Rubens, Giovan Battista Salvi Sassoferrato, Jenny Saville, Christian Schad, Francis Newton Souza, Stanley Spencer, Anna Dorothea Therbusch, Hans Thoma, Charley Toorop, Diego Velázquez, Suzanne Valadon, Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, Andy Warhol, Adriaen van de Werff, James McNeill Whistler, Johann Zoffany ...