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Face to Face

Artists’ Self-Portraits


Gaela Erwin. Self-Portrait ‘Baptismal’, 2007. Pastel on paper. 30 in. x 44 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Ian Ingram. Easter Island, 2011. Charcoal, pastel, silver leaf on paper. 82 1/2 in. x 51 in. Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with a gift from Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., in honor of Helen Porter and James T. Dyke. Courtesy of the artist.

Melissa Cooke. The Between Spaces: Muffled, 2012. Graphite on paper. 72 1/2 in. x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Nicola Hicks. Self-Portrait, 2001. Charcoal on brown paper. 45 in. x 45 in. Courtesy of the artist.

China Marks. Life in Ancient China (Self-Portrait), 2006. Black ink, white paint, collage on printed brown rice paper, laid down to paper. 55 in. x 43 3/4 in. Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr. in honor of Sandy and Dan Phillips. Courtesy of the artist.

Luis Cruz Azaceta. King for a Day #6, 1980. Black pencil, graphite, ink on brown toned paper. 18 3/4 in. x 23 3/4 in. Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr. in honor of Thom Hall. Courtesy of the artist.

15 Year Anniversary

A previous exhibition
at The Baker Museum

January 17 — April 12, 2015


Artists’ Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr.


Narcissism, experimentation, practice, storytelling, self-promotion, personal quest... There are many reasons that artists have for centuries felt the need to portray themselves. A prominent theme in the history of art, self-portraiture has followed the evolution of self-consciousness and metaphysics. From medieval times, when artists represented themselves in enlightened poses to convey their belief in eternal life, to today’s influx of the “selfie,” the self-portrait has enjoyed as many approaches as authors. And all of these approaches originate from the same question: “Who am I?”

This question prompted Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr., longtime supporters of the Arkansas Art Center, to enrich their art collection, initially composed of drawings of faces, with acquisitions and commissions of self-portraits. A selection of these comprises Face to Face: Artists’ Self-Portraits, which illustrates the rich responses that artists from around the world have given to the question of selfhood. Among them are Melissa Cooke and Bill Amundson, who compose ontological self-portraits resulting from introspection. Luis Cruz Azaceta and Alfredo Castañeda represent their personas with a highly enigmatic, fantastic and intriguing air. Ian Ingram, Aj Smith and Victor Koulbak depict themselves with striking realism, revealing their souls through the canvas. Jack Levine and Hugo Scheiber use humor to present their facial features through caricatures. Peri Schwartz and Jerome Witkin draw inspiration from famous self-portraitists Rembrandt and Max Beckmann, respectively. And while Gaela Erwin defines her self-portraits in spiritual terms, shaping her likeness through a mystic context, Joyce Treiman imbues her work with an exotic sense, portraying a fictional alter ego of herself.

No matter the approach, the self-portrait will never be exhausted. Stemming from the combination of philosophy and anthropology, self-portraiture is a source for continuous exploration. It addresses the visible and the invisible, the permanent and the ephemeral, the immediate and the dreamy qualities of the portrayed. The universal nature of self-portraiture may explain its lasting popularity among artists throughout history.

Face to Face examines the thematic, technical and stylistic approaches among a variety of self-portraits. These sixty-six works coexist in the same space to stress the multiplicity of self-perception. Brief biographical notes and statements by the living artists represented complement the graphic narratives of the works.


Organized by The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas.

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