Seven seminal self portraits through the ages

A chronology of the selfie.

Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?’ Picasso once said on the art of portraiture.  The selfie is nothing new. Stretching back to Egyptian times, artists have sought to recreate their own likeness – through painting, sculpture and photography.

Now that we’re living in an era where we’re able to capture and share images of our selves at an unprecedented speed– what does the self portrait now mean to our culture? And does it still have the same value in art?

These are the questions posed in a new title from Phaidon – 500 Self Portraits. The book shares seminal self portraits from artists through the ages – from Rembrandt to Hockney to Marina Abramović, along with inspiring quotes on the art of self-portraiture. Take a look at seven of our favourite works from the collection below, including Amalia Ullman’s Instagram spoofs, and Juan Pablo Echeverri’s iconic passport photo series.

Find out more about 500 Self Portraits published by Phaidon

Ulay, s’He, 1972, Polaroid,. Picture credit: courtesy of the artist

Ulay, s’He, 1972, Polaroid,. Picture credit: courtesy of the artist

Philip Guston, The Studio, 1969, oil on canvas, Private collection. Picture credit: © The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth: photo Genevieve Hanson

Philip Guston, The Studio, 1969, oil on canvas, Private collection. Picture credit: © The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth: photo Genevieve Hanson

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, Episode 1, 2014, performance, Instagram. Picture credit: Arcadia Missa and Amalia Ulman

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections, Episode 1, 2014, performance, Instagram. Picture credit: Arcadia Missa and Amalia Ulman

Juan Pablo Echeverri, miss fotojapón, 1998 to present, selection of daily passport photos, Museo de arte del Banco de la Republica, Bogotá. Picture credit: © Juan Pablo Echeverri

Juan Pablo Echeverri, miss fotojapón, 1998 to present, selection of daily passport photos, Museo de arte del Banco de la Republica, Bogotá. Picture credit: © Juan Pablo Echeverri

Gallery