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Self-portraits from LACMA's important collection of photography on view at the San Jose Museum of Art
Lisa Anne Auerbach, Take this Knitting Machine and Shove It, 2009. Inkjet print, 20 x 40 inches. Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Lisa Anne Auerbach, courtesy of the artist and Gavlak Gallery, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

SAN JOSE, CA.- The San José Museum of Art explores the fine art of photographic self-portraiture in the “age of the selfie” in a new exhibition on view August 25, 2017 – January 14, 2018. This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and drawn from the most significant collection devoted to the subject, which was donated to LACMA by Audrey and Sydney Irmas beginning in 1992. The exhibition comprises 66 photographs ranging from early 19th-century experiments through contemporary digital techniques and includes works by Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Alfred Stieglitz, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol, among others. SJMA is the first venue for This Is Not a Selfie, which will later travel to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

“Today millions of selfies, from the funny and self-deprecating to the private and sexually explicit, are shared with friends and strangers around the world,” said Rory Padeken, associate curator at SJMA. “But is the selfie the same as the fine art genre of photographic self-portraiture? This exhibition examines why it is important to make the distinction.”

An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue includes an essay by photography historian Deborah Irmas as guest curator and 50 extended written entries by Eve Schillo, assistant curator, LACMA, and the curatorial team at the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA, along with a foreword by Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director at SJMA.

“In their self-portraits, artists evoke not only who they are as people and what ideas they are exploring, but also who we are as a culture,” writes Irmas. “By presenting themselves, these artists allow us to look beyond them, to gain a deeper understanding of what it means for people to live in a complex world of images. With the selfie firmly in place, it is a particularly prescient moment to revisit the enduring pursuit of the photographic self.”

This Is Not a Selfie also includes works by Berenice Abbott, Mehemed Fehmy Agha, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Herbert Bayer, Hans Bellmer, Wallace Berman, Joseph Beuys, Ilse Bing, Christian Boltanski, Jonathan Borofsky, Claude Cahun, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Anne Collier, Eileen Cowin, Judy Dater, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Simryn Gill, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Pedro Guerrero, Lyle Ashton Harris and Renee Cox, Florence Henri, Bettina Hoffmann, Peter Keetman, Martin Kersels, Yves Klein, O. Winston Link, El Lissitzky, T. Lux (Theodore Lukas), George Platt Lynes, Danny Lyon, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Pierre Molinier, Jennifer Moon, Yasumasa Morimura, Vik Muniz. Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Paulo Nazareth, Bruce Nauman, Warren Neidich, Helmut Newton, Leonard Nimoy, Luigi Ontani, ORLAN, Chino Otsuka, Hirsch Perlman, Amalia Pica, Alphonse-Louis Poitevin, Sigmar Polke, Ilene Segalove, Malick Sidibé, Anton Stankowski, Ralph Steiner, Seneca Ray Stoddard, Wolfgang Tillmans, and William Wegman.

SJMA plans an array of public programs in connection with This Is Not a Selfie, including a Creative Minds lecture by Irmas on Wednesday, September 27, at 7:15 PM, followed by an opening reception.

This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Deborah Irmas as guest curator along with Eve Schillo, assistant curator, LACMA, with the curatorial team of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA. SJMA’s presentation is organized by Rory Padeken, associate curator.

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