Frederick Hagan, Canadian Painting, 1948

Frederick Hagan Canadian Born Toronto, Canada, 1918; died Newmarket, Canada, 2003 Canadian Painting 1948 oil on canvas adhered to hardboard Gift of the Artist's Family, 1998 98/3 © 2013 art Gallery of Ontario

Self-portrait. As I think of myself

April 13, 2013 – December 8, 2013


The mirror, above all, the mirror is our teacher. - Leonardo da Vinci

Since the invention of the glass mirror in the 1500s artists have been scrutinizing and recording their own reflections. In self-portraiture the artist is both maker and model, and the distinctions between observer and observed break down. Like an autobiography, which can range from the informative to the fabricated, a self-portrait provides clues that reveal the artist’s identity (or identities). Through pose, facial expression, setting, costume, and stylistic presentation the artist “signs” his or her work.

The term “self-portrait” was coined in the 1800s, when self-expression and individuality became particularly valued. In self-portraiture the artist finds a convenient, inexpensive subject to explore a range of emotional, psychological and spiritual states or to create any number of witty fictional personas.

The AGO has an extensive collection of self portraits that cross all media and date from the 1500s to the present day.

The exhibition is being presented in two parts. The new installation opens on August 24, 2013 and includes prints, drawings, paintings and photographs by artists such as Rembrandt, Käthe Kollwitz, Max Beckmann, Cindy Sherman, and Joyce Wieland.

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