Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait, 1790, Uffizi Gallery.

New App Allows You to Optimize Art History’s Classic Self-Portraits for the Selfie Age

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, 1659, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Rembrandt, Self-Portrait, 1659, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

If you’re a selfie aficionado, you’ll already know that there are selfie-enhancing apps like CamMe, Perfect365, #Selfie, Facetune, and Makeup. You can alter your eye color, narrow your face, crank up your smile, add blush, lighten your skin, and even add luscious blond locks.

But how do the classics of art historical self-portraiture benefit from a nip here, a tuck there, and a new hairdo? We submitted some of them to the Perfect365 treatment.

Rembrandt van Rijn, above, is known perhaps as much for his searching self-portraits as for his history painting and Biblical scenes. Here, he’s brightened his eyes and put on a little lipstick.

Judith Leyster, Self-Portrait,; c. 1630, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Judith Leyster, Self-Portrait,;
c. 1630, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Rembrandt’s countrywoman, Judith Leyster, was that very rare figure: a female artist in the 17th century. She was just 19 when her contemporaries started to notice her talent. She’s perked up her look, which concealed her hair, with a stylish red wig that gives her a punk edge.

Parmigianino, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, c. 1624, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
Parmigianino, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, c. 1624, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Parmigianino’s small Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror may have served as a way to demonstrate his talent to potential patrons. Here, he puts his best foot forward with some striking lips and lids.

Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a Man (Self portrait?), 1433, National Gallery, London.
Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a Man (Self portrait?), 1433, National Gallery, London.

It’s not altogether certain that this painting is a self-portrait by Jan van Eyck, but in any event, the severe-looking man staring out from this panel has softened his appearance by brightening up his eyes and adding some pink to fill out his narrow lips.

Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series, 1974-82.
Hannah Wilke, S.O.S. Starification Object Series, 1974-82.

One of art history’s great feminist artists, Hannah Wilke examined conventional ideas about beauty and femininity. In her S.o.S. Starification Series, she covered herself in vulva-shaped pieces of chewing gum, making the viewer look twice at the typical objectified female form. Here, the black-and-white image gives way to a bit more color.

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Arm Twisting above Head, 1910.
Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Arm Twisting above Head, 1910.

Egon Schiele’s self-portraits, and his portrayals of his lovers, got pretty steamy at times. Here, he spices things up a bit by adding a duckface, lipstick and blush, and a wig that bursts off the page. Hedwig would be proud.

Horace Pippin, Self-Portrait, 1944, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Horace Pippin, Self-Portrait, 1944, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

After sustaining an injury to his arm during World War I, untrained artist Horace Pippin took up art-making as physical therapy. In this self-portrait, one of just two that he painted, he glams it up with some pink lipstick.

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin

Frida Kahlo transmuted a painful life into captivating self-portraits that are emblematic of suffering with attributes like a necklace of thorns. In this work, we’ve brightened things up, narrowed her face, put on some lipstick, and added a slight, knowing smile.

Gustave Courbet, Self-Portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843-45.
Gustave Courbet, Self-Portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843-45.

Artists have often used their own faces and bodies as the place to test out poses and expressions—as Cindy Sherman will tell you, the artist is the cheapest model around. In his self-portrait as a desperate man,Gustave Courbet hammed it up, tore at his hair, and sent his eyebrows to the sky. Here, sporting a smile and pretty blue eyes, he looks a lot less desperate.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait, 1790, Uffizi Gallery.
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait, 1790, Uffizi Gallery.

A popular contemporary of Marie Antoinette, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was one of the few highly sought-after female artists admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and exhibited frequently at the Salon. The artist had a very natural look in her self-portrait, so here, she’s really amped up the femininity.

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