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The Whitechapel Gallery opens the first major public display of the ISelf Collection in the UK
Tracy Emin, Fist Clasped, 2014. Gouache on paper, 40.5 x 51 cm. © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Image courtesy White Cube.


LONDON.- Continuing the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of opening up rarely seen collections from around the world, the four exhibitions are each titled after a key artwork in each display. Self-portrait as the Billy Goat brings together a selection of physical, psychological and imaginary self-portraits by more than a dozen leading international artists this spring.

Twenty-five works from international artists including Pawel Althamer, Louise Bourgeois, André Breton and the Surrealists, Enrico David, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Gabriel Kuri, Yayoi Kusama, Linder, Aditya Mandayam, Raqs Media Collective, Prem Sahib and Cindy Sherman, reveal how these artists stage their own bodies or self-reflections to examine the different ways that we build our sense of personal identity.

A series of photo strips by André Breton (1896-1966, France) and his Surrealist colleagues open the first chapter in a series of displays. Taken in 1929, they experimented with a new form of instantaneous self-portraiture, the photobooth. Rather than choosing a straightforward pose, they look sideways or away from the camera, playing with different poses – smoking, thinking or laughing, depicting themselves as complex and multi-faceted individuals.

By staging their own portraits the artists in this display examine the mechanisms that we use to present ourselves to the world. In her Untitled (1977/2010) photographs, Cindy Sherman (b.1954, USA) stages her appearance through a curtain call where she poses as four different actors. The agency of the artist in the set-up of the image also comes to the fore in Linder’s (b.1954, UK) disturbing portrait You search but do not see (1981-2010) where she appears to be almost suffocating in a plastic bag.

Tracing the psychology of the artist and the role of mother, daughter, wife and lover was at the forefront of Louise Bourgeois’ (1911 – 2010, France) work. She presents herself as mother in Untitled (2005) and was to influence Tracey Emin (b.1963, UK), whose intimate nude gouaches Im here (2014) and Fist Clasped (2014) are included in the display.

The exhibition title is taken from Pawel Althamer’s (b. 1967, Poland) flayed and melancholic self-portrait in the guise of Auguste Rodin’s famous The Thinker (1903), with an additional twist in that he represents himself as a Billy Goat. The relationship between body and feeling is considered further by Gabriel Kuri (b. 1970, Mexico) through his work Self portrait as chart with looping volume (2012) which reflects on notions of unity and disembodiment.

This display aims to reveal how artists convey the complex dynamics below the surface of their appearances. Yayoi Kusama’s (b.1929, Japan) Infinity Nets YSOR (2011) from an ongoing series of delicate, abstract white paintings explores the landscape of her mind. On show alongside this is Prem Sahib’s (b. 1982, UK) Undetectable (2013), a minimal sculpture which we later understand to be an AIDS test.





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April 27, 2017

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili unveils new tapestry at the National Gallery

Extraordinary Roy Lichtenstein sculpture to be included in Phillips sale

Sotheby's unveils its inaugural Sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art

Oscar-winning 'Silence of the Lambs' director Jonathan Demme dies

Solo exhibitions at Sotheby's S/2 present works by Renate Bertlmann and Maria Lassnig

Throckmorton Fine Art opens exhibition of photographs by the 20th century photographer Fritz Henle

Works by Guy Pène du Bois highlight sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Doyle

Record-breaking Ottoman textile leads £13 million week of Middle Eastern art auctions

JFK's 'only' diary sold for $718,750 at auction

The Whitechapel Gallery opens the first major public display of the ISelf Collection in the UK

The ICA/Boston opens major mid-career survey of Nari Ward

New Museum opens the first New York museum survey of the work of Italian artist Carol Rama

Crocker Art Museum awards inaugural $25,000 Knudsen Prize to Bay Area sculptor Cyrus Tilton

Spain's Guernica marks 80th anniversary of bombing

Global graphic design comes to Swann Galleries

On creativity

Iraqi forces seize ancient site of Hatra from IS

Art Brussels 2017: End of fair report

Museum Ludwig exhibits works by 2017 Wolfgang Hahn Prize winner Trisha Donnelly

Ry David Bradley's debut solo exhibition at PM/AM opens in London

Walter Hagen PGA Championship gold medal available in Heritage Auctions' Spring Sports Catalog Auction

Berlin/Los Angeles: Space for Music, now on view at the Getty

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