Artists explore self-depiction through portraiture

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery opens at Albuquerque Museum on June 12, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Albuquerque Museum presents Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery organized by the Portrait Gallery’s Chief Curator Emerita Brandon Brame Fortune. The exhibition will be on view from June 12 to September 12, 2021.

At a time when countless “selfies” are being posted on social media channels and identity is proving to be more and more fluid, the exhibition presents a sampling of how artists have approached the exploration of representation and self-depiction through portraiture. With each self-portrait, artists either reaffirm or rebel against a sense of identity that links the eye to “I.” Drawing from the National Portrait Gallery’s vast collection, Eye to I will examine how artists in the United States have chosen to portray themselves since the beginning of the last century.

Eye to I features more than 50 works in a variety of styles and media ranging from caricatures to photographs, from colorful watercolors to dramatic paintings and time-based media. The exhibition will trace the process through which select artistic practices have transitioned from gazing into the mirror to looking into the camera; from painted and drawn surfaces to mechanical reproductions such as prints and photographs; from static forms to video. Artworks to be included in the exhibition span the art historical timeline from 1901 to today. Early works will include self-portraits of Edward Steichen, Alexander Calder, and composer George Gershwin, who was also a painter. More recent self-portraits include a video work by Ana Mendieta, and work in a variety of media by Chuck Close, Lois Dodd, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Alison Saar, as well as a large-scale painting by Roger Shimomura, Shimomura Crossing the Delaware.

A press preview will take place on Friday, June 11, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

“Individuals featured in Eye to I have approached self-portraiture at various points in history, under unique circumstances, and using different tools, but their representations—especially when seen together—all raise important questions about self-perception and self-reflection,” says Brandon Brame Fortune, chief curator emerita, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “Some artists reveal intimate details of their inner lives through self-portraiture, while others use the genre to obfuscate their private selves or invent alter egos.”

Featured in Eye to I will be self-portraits by prominent figures in the history of portraiture, including Robert Arneson, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Deborah Kass, Elaine de Kooning, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, Irving Penn, Robert Rauschenberg, Fritz Scholder, Roger Shimomura, Edward Steichen, and many more.

Eye to I has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., and supported in part by Mr. and Mrs. Michael H. Podell.

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
Albuquerque Museum
On view June 12–September 12, 2021

Visit our website for details about hours, ticketing, and more. The Museum is enforcing COVID-safe practices. Masks must be worn at all times while in the Museum.

Details subject to change.

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery has a richly illustrated companion volume that features an introduction by Brandon Brame Fortune and nearly 150 insightful entries on key self-portraits in the museum's collection. The book was published by the National Portrait Gallery, in association with Hirmer Publishers (2019). The book will be on sale at the Museum Store.

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
336 pages. 175 color plates. 7 x 9 in. Hardcover. $45.00. Distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

About the National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals whose lives tell the nation's story. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives shaped American history, development, and culture.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G Streets NW, Washington, DC. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the National Portrait Gallery at, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.


Media Contact: Denise Crouse
[email protected]
May 11, 2021