Thursday, April 15, 2010

Self-P, part three

From the copy to Omar Calabrese's Artists' Self-Portraits:

"At first a self-portrait was hidden in a narrative painting: an artist would paint his image as part of a crowd scene, for example, or as a mythological figure. On the other extreme, once the genre was accepted, it was practiced by some artists—Rembrandt, van Gogh, Munch, and Dali, for instance—as almost an obsession."
For these comic book book jackets, hiding is not an option. These artists, no matter what measure of control they assert in their portraits, are winners in the publishing world: a-mythological, unflayed, nowhere near a crowd. The book precedes the self-portrait; the self-portrait is the book's penultimate manifestation. Joe Schmoe gets no. Zinesters give only the ghostly fingers of their email addresses. Drawing obsessive autobiography is perhaps the compromise, the build-up, but the surrogate self as a narrative subject opposes the typical self-portrait. Crumb and Spiegelman have the obsession, and have achieved both surrogate and self. Joe Sacco's obsession, however, netted him a real life photo to bolster his real life reporter credentials.
--Ho ho: Norman Rockwell's Triple Self-Portrait (from Autoritratti).

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