Saatchi Gallery Explores The Art Of The Selfie

Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Frida Kahlo, 1940, oil on canvas on Masonite. Courtesy Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico.
Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Frida Kahlo, 1940, oil on canvas on Masonite. Courtesy Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico.

If you haven’t yet been to the Saatchi Gallery‘s fascinating exploration of the history of the selfie from the old masters to the present day, you’re in luck because the exhibition has been extended until July 23rd.

The art of the selfie. Sounds like an oxymoron, when everyone with a smart phone equipped with a camera can snap a selfie at any point with varying degrees of aesthetic success. But self-portraits have long been a part of art, with artists like Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo all exploring the form during their careers.

In partnership with Huawei, From Selfie to Self-Expression is the world’s first exhibition to explore the selfie and celebrate the creative potential of a form of expression often derided for its inanity.

It is within these walls that the answer to, “What do Rembrandt and Kim Kardashian have in common?” will become clear. Both are classified as self-portraitists. Rembrandt painted around 50 images of himself throughout his career, never looking happy, as the years left their marks on his dour features, while Kardashian has published an entire book of her Instagram selfies.

Self-Portrait with Two Circles, Rembrandt van Rijn. c. 1665-69, oil on canvas. Courtesy Kenwood House.
Self-Portrait with Two Circles, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1665-69, oil on canvas. Courtesy Kenwood House.
Honeymoon Suite, Juno Calypso, 2015. Archival Pigment Print. Image courtesy of the artist and TJ Boulting Gallery.
Honeymoon Suite, Juno Calypso, 2015. Archival Pigment Print. Image courtesy of the artist and TJ Boulting Gallery.

The show highlights the emerging role of the smartphone as an artistic medium for self- expression through the commissioned work of ten Young British Photographers to create new works using Huawei’s newest dual lens smartphones, co-engineered with Leica, as part of their artistic practice. Reprising the spirit and energy of the Young British Artist movement, first launched 25 years ago, the works of these Young British Photographers will go on display in a gallery dedicated to world-class smartphone photography. In this gallery the focus will shift from Selfie to documenting the world around us as a contrasting form of self-expression.

Works from celebrated artists as diverse as Christopher Baker, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Juno Calypso, Tracey Emin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Cindy Sherman, Gavin Turk and Velazquez, will be examples of will be selfies that have quickly become icons of the digital era.

Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, c. 1656, oil on canvas. ©Museo Nacional del Prado.
Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, c. 1656, oil on canvas. ©Museo Nacional del Prado.

“In many ways, the selfie represents the epitome of contemporary culture’s transition into a highly digitalised and technologically advanced age as mobile phone technology has caught up with the camera,” said Nigel Hurst, CEO Saatchi Gallery. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Huawei on From Selfie to Self-Expression. The exhibition will present a compelling insight into the history and creative potential of the selfie, while the #SaatchiSelfie competition provides a global platform for Self-Expression. Our commissioning of work by ten Young British Photographers completes the narrative and highlights the exciting potential of the very latest technology to encourage For more information, visit www.saatchigallery.com.

Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square, London, SW3 4RY

Big Self-Portrait, Chuck Close, 1967-1968, acrylic on canvas. ©Chuck Close, courtesy Pace Gallery.
Big Self-Portrait, Chuck Close, 1967-1968, acrylic on canvas. ©Chuck Close, courtesy Pace Gallery.
Hillary Clinton Group Selfie, ©Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America
Hillary Clinton Group Selfie, ©Barbara Kinney/Hillary for America