September 2012


FREE entrance to lecture in English and new exhibition at Louisiana September 26th!

Sign-up necessary.
Send mail to Kristin Terp Jensen at
and refer to
The Copenhagen Book
Wednesday 26 September the audience of The Copenhagen Book has been offered free entrance to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in the evening in connection with the new exhibition Self-Portrait and a lecture in English at 20:00 - Know Thyself - by Eleanor Nairne, curator and writer.

In her lecture Eleanor Nairne deals with the subject Know Thyself - analysing the gaze, the function of the mirror, psychoanalysis and self-presentation by artists from as long ago as Jan Van Eyck's Portrait of a
Man, 1433, up to contemporary art with among other things Gillian Wearing's photographs from the present decade. Eleanor Nairne has a master's degree from the Courtauld Institute of Arts in London. She works freelance as a curator and writer and lives in London.

To sign up simply send a mail to Kristin Terp Jensen at referring to The Copenhagen Book.

Louisiana Museum's big autumn exhibition Self-Portrait turns the focus on the self-portrait as a genre through-out the 20th and into the 21st century, as shown by 150 works by a wide variety of international artists from early modernism until today. How does one represent oneself? And what are the connections between self-portraiture and self-representation? Can a self-portrait be an objective, neutral representation, or should it depict the complex mind, personality and life-conditions of the artist? Can a self-portrait at all portray a person's composite identity? These are some of the questions that the exhibition raises, questions that extend beyond the artist's own universe into the life of the viewer - and this is exactly the source of the fascination exerted by the multiplicity of works shown in the exhibition.

The self-portrait is a classic, well-tried but also intense and almost raw-skinned genre that has involved a wide range of idioms throughout the history of art. The exhibition is showing works from the 20th
century and tells the story of the transformations of self-portrayal over time. As a genre the self-portrait has undergone radical developments, and often it results not only in images of the artist's idea of his or her own identity, but just as much in partial images of our time, of how we see ourselves in general.

The development of the self-portrait
At the beginning of the 20th century the tradition was influenced by Romanticism's idea of 'the creative genius', and the self-portrait was by and large viewed as a representation af the artist's mental, existential and social state. But that picture was soon to change - among other things as a result of the burgeoning psycho-analytical theories - and the self-portrait became problematical.

Today the increasing self-reflection is evident in various ways in the work of the artists: the self-portrait has the character of an investigation rather than an image of one true, absolute identity - it is made up of aspects
of identity and elements in an ongoing self-creation. Historically, identity has been about one's origins and affiliations, for example one's social, family and professional back­ground, but in the modernage, when the portraits of the exhibition have been created, the boundaries have become much more fluid and individual - not to speak of the new social media and networks where identity often emerges as partly constructed and

The nine groupings of the exhibition
The exhibition, which is being shown in the South Wing of the Museum, is based on a wide selection of artists, all of whom have worked naturalistically in their oeuvres with the self-portrait as a genre. The 150 works in the exhibition are divided into nine groupings based on thematic motif rather than chronology.

The Artist in the studio, the first classic group of works, shows among other things examples of the artist shown with easel, brush and palette - here we see works by Picasso, Gabriele Münter and Marc Chagall,
for example. The category Pioneers shows works by the early modernists, including Edvard Munch, Richard Gerstl and Frida Kahlo, and how they deliberately show themselves such that the gaze becomes important to the way the viewer understands the personality. In the category The Course of life we see both works by artists who paint their life-memories into the work, and works that shed light on the artist through the phases of life, for example Paula Modersohn-Becker, Giorgio de Chirico and Diego Rivera. Simplification covers
the field where the artists work more abstractly with the self-portrait - although there can be no doubt who they are portraying; this applies for example to Miró, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marcel Duchamp.

In Dissolution the staging of the individual psychology becomes more intense, subtle and original, and faces are shown with sometimes distorted features and with a painting technique where the artist partly dissolves
the subject - as in works by among others Francis Bacon, Chuck Close and Chaďm Soutine. Type Cast takes its point of departure in gender, race, social background and political conviction, and here the artist is presented with a kind of message. In the category Exhibitionism this tendency is intensified in works with strongly feminist subjects, for example by the Austrian artist Elke Krystufek, which also involve a dynamic relationship between private life and mass culture.

Mirrors - along with 'The Artist in the studio' - is probably one of the archetypal motifs in the self-representation of the visual artist. In this section we see Helen Chadwick's work Vanitas II, 1986, which
functions as a paraphrase of Baroque painting, just as Nan Goldin's mirrorings recall older art. Under the heading Irony we show Sarah Lucas' Self-portrait with Fried Eggs, 1998 - with the eggs placed on each breast - and Kippenberger's naturalistic self-portrait, Ohne Titel, 1996, of an approximately 40-year-old man whose shadow has a female shape.

Documentary clips and films
In the exhibition we present clips from documentary films alongside a number of the works of the artists exhibited, as well as a series of films in the Louisiana Cinema including films about David Hockney, Frida Kahlo, Basquiat, Kippenberger and Francis Bacon.

Louisiana Revy
In connection with the exhibition a catalogue is being published in the form of Louisiana Revy with a foreword, the articles Self-Portrait by Helle Crenzien, Know Thyself by Eleanor Nairne, Portraits of the Self by Finn Skĺrderud, Golden Years? by Liz Rideal, Das malt ich nach meiner Gestalt by Marco Pierini, and a list of works.

More info