Over the course of four years (1886–90), Vincent van Gogh, a committed portraitist, made about three dozen images of himself. Although each is grounded in what the artist saw as he regarded himself in the mirror, these works are not mere records of physical appearance, Judy Sund tells. Van Gogh’s self-portraits also document processes of self-exploration and self-definition, and they give tangible form to some of the diverse personas the artist crafted (for sibling, parent, colleague, friend). Widely varied in palette and technique, as well as in props, costuming and backdrops, Van Gogh’s self-portraits reveal shifts in his ambitions, enthusiasms, health and mental state, as well as the evolution of his style as he encountered the Parisian avant-garde and went on to forge his signature style in Arles and St.-Rémy.
Speaker: Judy Sund, Professor of Art History, The Graduate Center and Queens College, CUNY