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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Have you ever held your camera out in front of you to take your picture? Don't worry, you are not alone. It is human nature to want to depict oneself-- either how one appears at a given moment or how one wishes to appear to others.

Today on photo-sharing and social-networking sites, there are countless digital photographs of people taking pictures of themselves--their arms held out straight or sometimes at an odd angle, blindly trying to aim the lens without cutting off the tops of their heads. The goal is to capture oneself in that one moment, sometimes to prove you were at the Lincoln Memorial, to remember standing in front of the U.S. Capitol, or to use as a new profile picture. These digital photographs are self-portraits, not unlike the famous ones of Vincent Van Vogh, Frida Kahlo, Rembrandt, or Andy Warhol. A conscious representation (whether literal or not) of oneself.

There are hundreds of
self-portraits in the Smithsonian's collections. Enjoy browsing through them, or use the options on the left to narrow your search by museum or type of material.

Do you have a favorite?

Read more about self-portraits here and here.

Pictured is Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait, 1986, in the collection of the Hirshhorn.

--Nicole Semenchuk,
Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I can really relate to this. I have definitely taken a picture of myself with my arm stretched in front of me. I didn't realize how much people are in common. Off course, the talent artists tend to do a much better job of self portraits!