A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits

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9780007118441: A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits

Focusing on the art of self-portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history.

Self-portraits catch your eye. They seem to do it deliberately. Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themselves. Come across them in the world’s museums and you get a strange shock of recognition, rather like glimpsing your own reflection. For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks: the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world, and how they wish to see themselves.

In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Laura Cumming, art critic of the Observer, investigates the drama of the self-portrait, from Durer, Rembrandt and Velazquez to Munch, Picasso, Warhol and the present day. She considers how and why self-portraits look as they do and what they reveal about the artist’s innermost sense of self – as well as the curious ways in which they may imitate our behaviour in real life.

Drawing on art, literature, history, philosophy and biography to examine the creative process in an entirely fresh way, Cumming offers a riveting insight into the intimate truths and elaborate fictions of self-portraiture and the lives of those who practise it. A work of remarkable depth, scope and power, this is a book for anyone who has ever wondered about the strange dichotomy between the innermost self and the self we choose to present for posterity – our face to the world.

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Product Description:

Paperback. Pub Date :2010-09-02 Pages: 320 Language: English Publisher: HarperCollins UK Focusing on the art of self-portraiture. this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history.Self-portraits catch your eye. They seem to do it deliberately. Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themselves. Come across them in the worlds museums and you get a strange shock of recognition. rather like glimpsing your own reflection . For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks: the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world. and how they wish to see themselves.In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book. Laura Cumming. art critic of the Observer. investigates the drama of the self-portrait. from Durer. Rembrand...

Review:

‘Deserves a place of honour on every art lover’s shelf...Tenderly, creatively written, jargon- and waffle-free, the book wears deep learning with an unaffected grace but touches...on truths beyond the protocols of art criticism.’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent

‘Intelligent, humorous, swinging freely between erudition and colloquialism. I immediately found myself at home in this book, feeling as though I’d been reading and thinking about this subject all my life.’ Jonathan Coe

‘Positively fizzes with ideas; just about every single paragraph contains a fresh observation’ Nick Hornby, Observer, Books of the Year

‘A literary as well as an artistic triumph’ David Cox, Evening Standard, Books of the Year

‘Laura Cumming combines great clarity of style with a wide range of taste. All aspiring critics of any art form should take a look at how much she can say in a short space.’ Clive James

‘A beautiful and intriguing book...though Cumming’s book is stacked with visual masterpieces, it is her writing that most claims admiration. She notices every detail in a painting, the way a carpet folds, the varying textures in a dog’s fur, and registers them with a poet’s precision...she relies on keen observation, linguistic power and lots of knowledge. It adds up to the most enjoyable art book I have read for years’ John Carey, Sunday Times

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