Facing the world

Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai WeiWei

16 July – 16 October 2016


"Facing the World: Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei" at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will explore the intense fascination with which artists have turned their gaze upon themselves, and will offer a very rich survey of self-portraiture from the sixteenth century to the present day.

"Facing the World" will highlight the outstanding strengths of three great European collections, those of the Staatliche Kunsthalle, in Karlsruhe, Germany, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, in France, and the National Galleries of Scotland. It will feature an astonishing selection of over 140 works, spanning six centuries, in a wide range of media, including drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, video and social media.

Highlights will include one of Rembrandt’s most memorable self-portraits, painted at the age of 51, and stunning works by Simon Vouet, Allan Ramsay, Hyacinthe Rigaud, David Wilkie, Gustave Courbet, Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Andy Warhol, Marina Abramovic, Douglas Gordon, Sarah Lucas and Annie Lennox. It will also bring together many superb works unfamiliar to British audiences, including self-portraits by the Italian Futurist Gino Severini, and the German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In an age when issues of identity and questions about how we present ourselves to the world are being widely addressed this ambitious international project will prove thought-provoking and inspiring. "Facing the World" will also feature interactive installations which will allow visitors to make portraits of themselves, and so contribute to a vibrant composite digital self-portrait of those who have taken part.

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