While many have been quick to make the links between a “selfie” and a “self-portrait,” there is naturally still a perceived gulf between the two.
Linguistically, the modes feel worlds apart: a “selfie” connotes a throwaway instant capturing of a moment, likely with a view to show that off to a likely personal pool of people on social media – a good hair day, perhaps; a wine-lensed snapshot in a particularly glamorous restaurant toilet.
“Self-portrait” on the other hands suggests a very different, and far more considered staging for an image, and also a very different audience. It suggests the white walls of a gallery, rather than the cluttered wall of Facebook; a well-worn easel or carefully lit studio rather than a zig-zag Ikea mirror.
But aside from the difference in creators and set-ups, those classically postmodern differentiations of “high” and “low” art, the categories aren’t so different after all – or at least that’s what new show at London’s Saatchi Gallery suggests.
Entitled From Selfie to Self-Expression, the exhibition traces the history of capturing oneself in image from Old Masters works to today’s smartphone snaps. Among the artists featured are Kutluğ Ataman, Christopher Baker, Juno Calypso, Tracey Emin, Van Gogh, Mohau Modisakeng, Rembrandt, Cindy Sherman, Gavin Turk and Velazquez.
“In many ways, the selfie represents the epitome of contemporary culture’s transition into a highly digitalised and technologically advanced age as mobile phone technology has caught up with the camera,” said Saatchi Gallery CEO Nigel Hurst.
The show runs from 31 March – 30 May 2017.