SELFIE | 5 Artists in 5 Minutes

Selfies seem to be the epitome of today’s self obsessed youth. But did you know, people were taking pictures of themselves since the camera was invented? Today I want to share 5 selfies of art history. To qualify as a selfie, the photo must be clearly taken by the person in the photo: at arm’s length, in mirror, or with a trigger. So self-timers aren’t going to be included in this bunch. Let’s start off with the oldest selfie, shall we? Here is the earliest known self-portrait, by Robert Cornelius. He was an American pioneer in photography, and this process is called a daguerreotype. It involves polishing a sheet of silver-plated copper until it had a mirror finish, then it was treated with some chemicals to make it light-sensitive. So when you put it in the camera, and the light hits the surface, it has a chemical reaction and the image becomes fixed on the plate.  It’s treated with some more chemicals so that it comes non-light sensitive, so you can actually take it out. Then it is rinsed, dried, and sealed behind glass. Definately more of an investment than our iPhone pics today. Ilse Bing was a German avant-garde and commercial photographer during the inter-war era.  Dubbed “Queen of the Leica”, she was a versatile photographer, who worked in photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion. Her work was published in Le Monde Illustre, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. She’s known for her unexpected and daring perspectives and cropping, use of natural light and geometries. She also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives, a process similar to one developed by Man Ray: an American artist who spent most of his career in France and was an important contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements. Weegee was a photographer and photojournalist who worked in Manhattan as a press photographer during the 1930s and 40s. He’s particularly known for his work following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity. They were unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death, but also the outcasts: nudists, circus performers, freaks and street people. Throughout his career, Weegee shot over 1,500 self-portraits. This one is his reflection in a humorously distorted funhouse mirror. Lee Friedlander is an American photographer. Many of his photographs deal with the urban “social landscape”, they’re often detached images of the urban life, like store-fronts, street signs and cars. And there’s certainly no shortage of selfies here! Vivian Maier took more than 150,000 photographs, but remained unknown and unpublished throughout her life. In fact, she never really showed them to anyone and most were never even developed. She was a nanny but pursued photography in her spare time. Most were people and architecture of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. She traveled the world to take photographs, but near the end of her life she struggled to make ends meet and as a result, her belongings were auctioned off. Some of her photos were acquired by a Chicago collector in 2007, and two other collectors found her work in boxes and suitcases around the same time. Her work was published for the first time in 2008 online by Slattery, but it wasn’t until October 2009 when the first collector linked his blog to Flickr, and her photos went viral. SELFIE | 5 Artists in 5 Minutes - Little Art Talks


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