Part 4 The figure and the head

Research point – Research artists self-portraits historic and contemporary

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

One of the most prolific self portrait artists ever – he made over 100 self portraits (although some are disputed and may have been copies by his students) 10% of his total work.  The portraits painted throughout his life up until his final year can be viewed as autobiographical and include fashions, and changes in his features as he aged.

Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh made over 30 self portraits in his lifetime. He could not afford models and used peasants as models and of course a mirror to make self portraits – one of the most famous being the one with his bandaged ear:

Self portrait with bandage 1889 Oil on canvas

In addition to these portraits he also made other styles of portraits using autobiographical objects of his life:

Tracy Emin (1963 – )

Tracy Emin’s controversial work which includes working blind is of interest to me as I do enjoy the freedom and surprising accuracy of working in this manner. Monoprints are new to me and perhaps something for me to explore as soon as possible.

Like Van Gogh, Tracy Emin also used autobiographical objects from her life:


Tracy Emin My Bed 1998 (Turner Prize nomination)


Frank Auerbach (1931 – )

Among the most inspirational artists for me is Frank Auerbach whose methods were very unorthodox and creative. I recently saw one of his building site paintings in Colombia. His self portraits and portraits in general interest me:

Highly creative and very different in approach. I will use his charcoal method in my submission for Assignment 4.



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