Art 2 – Self Portraits – Due 3/26


1. Read the commentary about Van Gogh’s self-portrait and comment on

what interests you most about the commentary and the portrait.

Van Gogh self-portrait

2. Read the commentary about Rembrandt’s self-portraits, click on the title to enlarge the thumbnail or each of the portraits to get a much better look at the images. Comment on what interests you most about the descriptive/historical essay and which portrait you find most interesting and why.

Rembrandt self-portraits

3. Read the blog about Kollwitz’s self-portraits and comment on

what interest you most in the commentary and which portrait  you  like the most and why. (You may google more of her portraits than those shown here.)

Kollwitz self-portraits

4. Finally, comment on the portraits which you want to emulate in the process of drawing your own self-portrait and whether or not you think that approach will help you when you draw your classmates as preparation.


7 responses »

  1. 1. I think it’s interesting that Van Gogh thinks his self-portraits are more realistic than a photo. I like his self portrait because it’s very expressive of his mood.

    2. It’s cool that Rembrandt painted himself in different emotions so that he could use them to portray other people’s emotions. I like his “Self Portrait as a Young Man.” It’s very angsty and I like the highlights on his hair.

    3. I love her portraits and how she’s not afraid of portraying her age. I especially like the last one where she is hunched over and in profile. I like how they reflect the time period.

    4. I want to make sure I show some sort of emotion in my portrait. I don’t want it to be boring, but I’m worried it will be because I’m so used to looking at myself.

  2. I like how Van Gogh tried to paint himself, as he said, “a deeper likeness then can be obtained by a photographer.” The contrast between the small, dense brushstrokes for his face and the larger, looser ones in the background gets my attention. Ernst’s attitude towards self-portraits is refreshing. He doesn’t make it about the philosophical self since that movement wasn’t around when he was painting, his self-portraits are just about what his face looks like. As for my favorite, it’s the prtrait he did in 1652, where you see not just his head, but his whole body. That would take a lot of skill to do, because he’d either have to sketch standing in front of a full length mirror, or just be really aware of himself. My favorite Kollwitz portrait is the second one down, after they talk about how her son died. I imagine she painted this after his death. There’s little light in the sketch, and the shape of her face is defined by shadows rather than lines. I’m probably overreaching here, but it’s like she herself is defined by shadows when she loses her son. I’d like to do my portrait like Ernst, because his portraits are so accurate (you can tell by the consistency in the way his face looks throughout), but I want to shade it like Van Gogh if I can, because the lines he uses are extremely effective.

  3. I thought Van Gogh’s self portrait was interesting because it was extremely detailed and accurate without using a large amount of detail. He used thick defined strokes to create a flow to the curves and features of his face, and it accentuated areas that needed it and distorted the painting in ways that are very visually interesting. I liked the section of the commentary where he talks about portraits being more of a discovery of nature and self than they are an accurate representation, and there are many ways to see a portrait. I thought the essay on Rembrandt was interesting because of how it touched on the market and what art buyers were interested in, as well as why self portraits served as a way to look into one’s self and to really delve into emotion. I really liked his etchings with deep facial expression and distinct emotions, especially one where he is homeless, and seems to be showing despair. In Kollwitz’s self portraits I really enjoyed the unique textures and techniques she produced, some of the simpler shapes and tones are very rough but they seem to grasp the emotion of the piece very well, especially her work in charcoal and the use of wide strokes to evoke the rolls of a sleeve. I definitely think I will be using Kollwitz’s portraits with some of the tones of Van Gogh to construct my portrait, I think i want to do a side view and I’m not sure if I want an abstract background, or something with significant amounts of tone.

  4. 1. I find it most interesting that he says that drawing a portrait or self portrait is extremely difficult because unlike most art where you visualize the end result in your head, a portrait or self portrait has to be made with constant adjustment and looking at the recipient to make it more realistic.

    2. I find it most interesting how she states that the making of a great self portrait involves rigorous visualization unlike the commentary of the Van Gogh portrait. My favorite portrait by Rembrandt is Self portrait at the window.

    3. I found it most interesting that Kollwitz is described as being shy in public but alone being really outgoing. I also like that she reflects her different personality’s in her art work

    4. I am going to try and emulate Rembrandt’s self portraits by trying to visualize the and result and how I look in my mind so i can reflect that self visualization in my artwork.

  5. 1.Van Gogh’s self-portrait seems a bit dreamlike. The color of the jacket and the background colors are very close in hue, almost as if he is melting into the background or being absorbed by his surroundings. The commentary states that painting oneself “often leads to an identity crisis.” That could certainly be true here; it is as if the author is losing his sense of self.
    2.What first struck me about Rembrandt’s self-portraits is that there are so many of them. According to the commentary, there are more than 90 of them that were completed during a period of about 50 years. That seems like a high level of self-absorption. The first self-portrait seems crudely done, like a hastily drawn sketch. The “Self Portrait as a Beggar” is particularly interesting because it shows the author’s full body in beggar’s clothing. The hair remains wild and curly. The body seems like that of a very well-fed, much older man, although the date indicates that this was done just a few years later. This suggests a sense of self-distortion. His “Self-Portrait With a Wide-Brimmed Hat,” dated 1632, would have been a reflection of himself just two years later, yet this version is very different: he is well-dressed and well-groomed. It is difficult to believe this is the same individual. The face seems calm, thoughtful, and physically thinner; the overall impression is of a man of some success and prestige, very different from the “beggar” image done two years earlier. The portraits from later years seem more consistent, suggesting that his sense of identity was more solidified as he matured.
    3.Kollwitz’s self-portraits seem very introspective. As the commentary notes, she was also very prolific in completing self-portraits, even more than Rembrandt. The feeling of sadness and loss seems to be a strong common denominator. The commentary indicates that she lived through war and suffered loss during her life; this seems clear in her self-portraits, which are hauntingly beautiful.
    4.I prefer the dreamy aspect of Van Gogh’s work. I like the concept of melting into the background or being affected by one’s surroundings. I will try to incorporate this into the work I do in this class, both of my classmates and of myself.

  6. 1. I like the fact that Van Gogh thought extensively about what he was painting, and how it would effect him. He didn’t take the project lightly, even though it was just another piece of art, because he felt a responsibility to himself.
    2. Similar to why the Van Gogh piece interests me, the Rembrandt self portraits are intriguing because of how self-reflective and inquisitive they are. I like when the essay explains, “…in the end took the form of an interior dialogue: a lonely old man communicating with himself while he painted.” It really explains why many people paint self-portraits–to gain self-understanding. My favorite is the Self Portrait at the Window because, although it’s pretty much just a sketch, it has a lot of personality. The viewer can see the sorts of things that he would wear in his home, and his attitude in his posture, and it’s simple yet complicated and enlightening.
    3. I like the scratch-art sort of style of Kollwitz’s pieces. They have a lot of tone and value to them without using anything other than black and white with various scratches and lines. It’s very impressive!
    4. I think I would want to emulate Rembrant’s portraits the most, because they are the most conventionally realistic. Because I want to add colors to mine, I can take a few lessons from Van Gogh as well, and learn from Kollwitz’s creativity.

  7. 1. I think it’s interesting that he views self portraits as a revelation. Also, it’s amazing he produced over 43 portraits in 10 years–I’d like to compare them over time. I like how he wore something other than his usual attire for the portrait.

    2. It’s interesting that Rembrandt’s earliest self portraits, mostly tronies, earned him a good reputation. I like “Self Portrait With Saskia” because the expressions are almost deadpan, but each has a hint of a smile.

    3. I agreed with Galerie St. Etienne’s evaluation: “Even in youth, the artist looks serious, prematurely old…Kollwitz’s self-portraits depict a constant, unwavering state of inquiry: a searching, rather than a finding; a questioning, not an answering.” I really like all her portraits, but my favorite is this one:

    4. When I draw myself, I’m not going to sugarcoat my face. Like Kollwitz, I’m gonna include every blemish and make it as truthful as possible.

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