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More than 100 artist self-portraits featured in new exhibition at Turner Contemporary
Installation view. Photo: Stephen White.


MARGATE.- Self: image and identity at Turner Contemporary presents more than 100 artist self-portraits from the sixteenth-century to the present day, from Sir Anthony van Dyck and JMW Turner to recent work by Louise Bourgeois and Yinka Shonibare. The exhibition explores the diverse ways in which artists have chosen to represent themselves and their identities through painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and film. More than 70 works from the National Portrait Gallery are being showcased alongside key twentieth-century and contemporary self-portraits from public and private international collections for an expansive look at the self-portraiture genre.

Artists have been recreating their own image for centuries. From self-advertisement and preserving legacy, to figurative studies, political commentary and biographical exploration self-representation/portraiture has shaped Western art.

Central to the exhibition is the last known Self - portrait by Sir Anthony van Dyck (15991641), Court Painter to Charles I. Regarded as Britain’s first ‘celebrity’ artist, Van Dyck was also the most influential portrait painter ever to have worked in Britain and his legacy was to last for the next three centuries.

Sir Anthony van Dyck’s remarkable Self - portrait was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 2014 through a major public appeal with the Art Fund, and with thanks to a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the support of other major individual and trust supporters, and nearly 10,000 members of the public. Turner Contemporary will be the first venue where visitors can see Van Dyck’s Self - portrait as it embarks on a three year national tour, supported by the Art Fund and HLF.

Taking Van Dyck’s legacy and self-portrait as a starting point, the development of the genre of self-portraiture is considered in the exhibition through a series of themes including: history, celebrity, collecting, gender, mortality and contemporary approaches. From the rise of self-portraiture in Britain in the mid-17th century to contemporary responses, such as Jason Evans’s new commission Sound System Self - Portrait , the exhibition includes work by; Louise Bourgeois; John Constable; Tracey Emin; Lucian Freud; Damien Hirst; David Hockney; Angelica Kauffmann, Sarah Lucas, JMW Turner and Gillian Wearing.






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