Throughout history man has created artistic representations of himself, to capture our identity, present them as to be understood and to further understand ourselves. Still continuing today is the materialization and representation of our identity. It is justifiably true that images in a self-portrait generally communicate to the viewer information about the identity, character and interests of the artist. By the comparison of a self-portrait by Joy Hester and another by Andy Warhol this statement will be proven true.
Events, experiences and teachings have actively shaped both Warhol and Hester. Warhol's approach to this image was screen printing, a commercial technique learnt while attending the Carnegie Institute of Technology. When he graduated, he supported himself financially by taking on advertising and design commissions from fashion magazines and a host of other commercial enterprises; later to become incredibly successful Hester on the other hand didn't receive any critical acclaim. Her emotions ruled over the images she was creating. Hester produced hundreds of drawing and ink works in quick succession. Her work was rapid, as if done in synchronisation with the emotions she was feeling at the time.
As a result her image is distorted to accurately record herself and her character. The works by Hester and Warhol both contain elements that comprise an artistic representation of oneself. Elements that are shown in each work include facial expressions used to express there emotions, close ups from the shoulders up to exaggerate importance of facial expression and the lack of backgrounds in both works to emphasise subject matter. No two self-portraits, by two different artists, will be the same. Most self-portraits contain individual aspects significant to there own identity and interests. The difference in Warhol's work is the use of colour compared to Hester's monotone grays, blacks and whites.
Warhol has used analogous colours not negative and positive. Warhol's image is also more realistic then Hester's skewed, distorted figure. The techniques and media used are very dissimilar; this further reinforces the idea of individuality and personal identity. Self-portraits often carry complex messages in the form of symbols and imagery that communicate the artist's identity to the viewer. Symbolisms are present within both of the self-portraits. In the image Lovers [II] by Hester, the use of symbolism is apparent in the way her eyes have dismal, dream like appearance, how her neck is arched and elongated to show femininity and eroticism.
The male figure (Albert Tucker) seems to merge with her, as that is the way she saw him, a part of her. The use of positive space in contrast to the negative space suggests she is presenting herself to Tucker. Hester is trying to communicate her love for Tucker and the relationship she shares with him. She is emotionally complex and still torn between Tucker and other preoccupations. Symbolism and imagery is also evident in Warhol's work.
A skull appears as if it was swooping down and has come to rest on his shoulders. The skull has a come adic yet cynical grin, as does Warhol yet his eyes emote tension. Vertically from the right, 1/3 of the picture is over layed with purple, the rest with red. Also three purple strokes cross from the purple area over the thin black line into the red It appears as if Warhol has befriended the skull or come to a truce with it.
The dark colour comes into play where the skull lies possibly representing Warhol's hidden or alternative side. The three purple strokes act as if they are stitches between Warhol and his alternative side. Warhol somehow seems to isolate the main subject, which could be himself coming to terms with his progressing age. The image that has most visual impact is Warhol's Self-Portrait with a Skull. His use of analogous colour is aesthetically pleasing to the eye when used in combination with the rule of thirds. The skull resting on his shoulder offering some mysticism and intrigue, as does his facial expression.
He has also chosen a good art medium, in which he has advanced techniques, to accomplish his task of using expressive features to communicate his characteristics. The intent of an artist in producing in self-portrait is to capture something of their identity, their emotions, their history and their future. While Warhol and Hester both use similar forms and structure in their portraits, their use of different media, techniques, and colours combine to create individual representations of their perceptions of their own personalities. In each self-portrait, we are left with the impression that we have been given a unique insight into the artist's soul. Bibliography Anne Gray (Ed) (2003).
Australian Art in the National Gallery of Australia. Port Melbourne: Central Boulevard Arthur c. Panto (a 997). After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History. Chichester, west Sussex: Princeton University Press Christopher Heathcote (1995).
A Quiet Revolution the Rise and Fall of Australian Art. Melbourne Victoria: Text Publishing Company Heiner Bastian (2001). Andy Warhol: A Retrospective. Millbank London: Tate Publishing.