Art in the Age of Selfies

Joanne Artman Gallery
Nov 29, 2017 11:12PM

As Time Out magazine reports, the “Museum of the Selfie” is set to open in LA this January. The space seeks to present a well-rounded program focusing on the art of self-representation through the ages, including a section based on Greek mythology, such as the origin of “narcissus”. Although some of the exhibitions seem pretty tongue in cheek (think bathroom selfie), in this age of instagram, consumerism, and web-based everything, a museum that focuses on the history and significance of the “selfie” seems right on the pulse.

Spanish artist Diego Velázquez famously depicted himself in full view inLas Meninas, 1656, oil on canvas (image courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Though Paris Hilton may dubiously claim that she invented the first “selfie”, artists have tackled the subject of self-representation through the painting medium as early as the Early Renaissance (around the mid-15th century) as access to better and cheaper mirrors made self-portraits easier to achieve. Drawing oneself was a readily accessible subject matter, one that artists could easily practice as the idea of portraiture as a venerable genre grew in popularity. Artists played with the idea of self representation through various approaches sometimes picturing themselves as characters within large group compositions (such as those with Biblical themes), other times inserting themselves into the composition as their true selves such as in Las Meninas. In solo compositions, studied portraits aimed to depict the psychology of the internal self, utilizing allegorical elements, careful compositions and meaningful visual language. In each of these examples, the artist seeks to relay a message to the viewer of their identity, or, in essence, a visual testament to their own existence.

Frida Kahlo,Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 (image courtesy of WikiCommons)

Brooke Shaden
Fragile, 2016
Joanne Artman Gallery

As nothing produced exists in a vacuum, all contemporary art reflects the period and culture in which it is made. In the age of instagram and instant gratification via social media, selfies as well as artful lifestyle and food shots, have become a predominant visual language in a battle for social dominance and the currency of “likes”. Photographer Brooke Shaden often inserts herself into her work, using herself as the model inFragile, an image that echoes the allegorical, and psychologically brutally honest magical realist works by Frida Kahlo. However, a large part of Shaden’s practice focuses on viewer engagement with her work, utilizing Instagram as a platform to discuss various themes and elements of the compositions. For Shaden, this wider lens as well as engagement is a vital part of her practice, as she is able to both guide and direct the narrative around her own work, utilizing social media as a tool to expand both scope as well as reach.


Brooke Shaden is represented at JoAnne Artman Gallery  || 326 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach CA 92651
 || 511 A West 22nd St. New York NY 10011

949.510.5481 || www.joanneartmangallery.com || [email protected]


Joanne Artman Gallery