The Artist and the Self

James Fuentes
May 1st 2020 — Jun 1st 2020

For its first-ever online exhibition, James Fuentes presents "The Artist and The Self." Featuring work by 16 artists, the show brings together photographic self-portraits that, dating from 1969 to present-day, were made using a range of tools. A narrative emerges of the rapid-fire technological shifts that have over five decades supercharged traditional modes of image capture—encapsulated, for instance, in the contrast between the immediacy of a Polaroid camera to the hypermediacy of an iPhone.

At the same time, the uniform subject matter casts into relief aesthetic and technical nuances, shedding light on how the urge toward self-documentation can transcend as well as adapt to various contexts. Adding an intergenerational dimension, a 1976 candid-looking snapshot of a young Stephen Shore and a 2014/2019 print by Barbara Ess evoking manufactured punk aesthetics echo different elements in the works of their one-time students—Daniel Gordon, Lucas Blalock, and Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili. The show creates an intriguing juxtaposition between a 1977 photograph by Vivian Maier—the outsider artist whose body of work was discovered at her estate sale—and a 1986 Polaroid by Andy Warhol, two years Maier's junior, depicting the iconic artist as a dimly-lit silhouette well past the peak of his fame, mere months before his death. The exhibition also includes work by Talia Chetrit, Hannah Wilke, Lizzi Bougatsos, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Ana Mendieta, among others.

Hannah Wilke, Handle With Care, 1987. Performalist self-portrait with Donald Goddard. Thermometer, black and white photographs, rubber-stamped “Hannahgram” verso. 15.75 × 6.5 in.