Sunday, 12 May 2019

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now

Rembrandt - Self Portrait with Two Circles, c.1665

To Gagosian once more for this survey of modern portraiture based around the above  masterpiece of 17th C. portraiture by Rembrandt from Kenwood House in Hampstead. The curators have done a good job in gathering an interesting assortment of mostly well-known contemporary portraits which work really well together, although this show does seem a little safe and corporate in some respects. This said though, many of the biggest and talented names in art are represented. It's always good to see Bacon, Brown, Freud, and Saville, and it was particularly good to come face to face with that wonderfully intense Schiele portrait again, seen as recently as last year by myself whilst in Paris here. There are also a few interesting inclusions which make you question the nature of the portraiture genre, and the neccessity of artists having to make a faithful representation or likeness of a person such as the inclusions here by Hodgkin, Lichtenstein, Maar, Prince, Wool, and Freud's Hand Mirror in a Chair. Others such as the Brown, Koons and Sherman pieces have been chosen to emulate and evoke the Rembrandt portrait and its period stylistically and superficially in manner.

Surprises here for me were Urs Fischer's grey, life-size figure made entirely of wax, and Charles Ray's Male Mannequin, with a surreal twist- replete with the addition of disturbingly realistic genitalia, and Gerhard Richter's Spiegel, a Duchampian move in elevating a plain mirror to the status of art, forcing the viewer to confront their own image and having them take a good hard look at themselves, and then decide whether they like the hard truth of just what is mirrored back at them. Soul searching self-reflection in your reflection.

It is also interesting to note that the final room of the exhibition containing Rembrandt's Self Portrait with Two Circles has been carefully curated, and contains only the tried and tested greats of 20th C. art (a Picasso sketch is relegated to the next room) - Bacon, Freud, Warhol and a Mapplethorpe self-portrait photograph which can be read as a modern version of a Dutch memento-mori. Good as they all are though, the Rembrandt stands out. His face lined with the world weary expression and experiences of a life fully lived, and with only four years left in him before he would shuffle off this mortal coil. This really is a very good exhibition which is worth catching before it closes.

Howard Hodgkin - Portrait of the Artist, 1984-1987

Guiseppe Penone - Rovesciare i propri occhi, 1970

Glenn Brown - Sex, 2003

Gerhard Richter - Hofkirche Dresden (Court Chapel Dresden), 2000

Damien Hirst - With Dead Head, 1991

Jean-Michel Basquiat - The Thinker, 1986

Cindy Sherman - Untitled #220, 1990

Richard Prince - Untitled (Portrait), 2019

Urs Fischer - Untitled, 2011 In the background - Rudolf Stingel - Untitled, 2012

Urs Fischer - Untitled, 2011 detail

Christopher Wool - Untitled, 2016

Jeff Koons - Gazing Ball (Rembrandt Self-Portrait Wearing a Hat), 2015

Diane Arbus - Self-Portrait, Pregnant, NYC, 1945

Man Ray - Self-Portrait, 1924

Georg Baselitz - Grosse Nacht, 1962-63

Lucian Freud - Hand Mirror in a Chair, 1966

Egon Schiele - Self-Portrait, 1910

Dora Maar - Portrait de Femme (autoportrait), 1939

Glenn Brown - The Hurdy-Gurdy, 2019

Glenn Brown - The Hurdy-Gurdy, 2019 detail

Francis Bacon - Three Studies for a Portrait including a self-portrait, 1967

Jenny Saville - Untitled, 2019

 Pablo Picasso - Self-Portrait (July 2, 1972), 1972

Roy Lichtenstein - Self-Portrait II, 1976

Gerhard Richter - Spiegel, 2008

Charles Ray - Male Mannequin, 1990

Charles Ray - Male Mannequin, 1990 detail

Andy Warhol - Self-Portrait, 1986

Robert Mapplethorpe - Self-Portrait, 1988

Francis Bacon - Self-Portrait, 1972

Francis Bacon - Self-Portrait, 1972 detail

Lucian Freud - Man's Head, 1963

Andy Warhol - Self-Portrait, 1966-67

Rembrandt - Self Portrait with two Circles, c.1665

Visions of The Self: Rembrandt and Now
until 18th May 
20 Grosvenor Hill