Self-Portrait of the Artist

An untidy history of artists' representations of themselves in pretty much any form you can think of (painting & sculpture, poetry & prose, photo & film…) — updated every third day and open for suggestions.

Tag: London

Self-portrait of the street-artist.


Though nobody has seen his actual face, infamous graffiti artist Banksy has in fact produced a number of ‘self-portraits’. The one above, sold in 2009, fetched what, at the time, was the artist’s personal record.

(Two years previously, Banksy had made a painting of an auction where a blank, framed canvas showed the words: “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.”)

When a series of stolen shots purportedly picturing the artist in Jamaica in 2004 were leaked online, several newspapers and blogs gloated over the unmasking of Banksy.

ImageSome time later, the graffiti below appeared in Shoreditch, London. By many hailed to be Banksy’s self-portrait, I am surprised I couldn’t find anybody who pointed out that this piece, clearly taken from the ‘Jamaican photo’, must be the artist’s way of scoffing at your credulousness.


(It is quite weird how we react to a contemporary artist whose face is unknown, especially if we consider that all the pre-XIX century self-portraits posted below come from people whose actual features are forever unrecoverable — and that is arguably what is so fascinating about their work.)

The artist tricks you.


The artist’s position in Artemisia Gentileschi‘s Self-portrait as an allegory of painting (1638-39) is highly uncommon for a right-handed person. If you try to reenact it in a mirror you will see what I mean.

(Try two mirrors, then.)