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Before the Selfie: Six Hundred Years of Self-Portraits

This course is full! To be added to waitlist please email us at sps.all@nyu.edu
Register for this Fall 2023 course on the new NYU SPS Academy of Lifelong Learning website .
In 1433, the Flemish master Jan van Eyck painted what has long been considered the earliest self-portrait in the Western tradition. Four centuries later, in 1839, Robert Cornelius, an early photography enthusiast from Philadelphia, took the world’s first photographic self-portrait on record. Today, the internet is inundated with “selfies” by virtually everyone. This course is dedicated to the history and evolution of self-portraiture and will highlight some of its most extraordinary examples, including Albrecht Dürer’s “Self-Portrait at Age 13” (1484); Catharina van Hemessen’s “Self-Portrait” (1548), the first self-portrait of an artist at work at an easel; Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” (1638); Alice Neel’s first nude self-portrait at age 80 (1980); and Robert Mapplethorpe’s last self-portrait before his untimely death at age 42 (1988). We will examine how, despite their apparent differences, both the painted and photographic self-portrait present the viewer with a glimpse into the rich universe everybody carries within them. Art critic Laura Cumming’s engaging book, A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits, will accompany our study. Fall 2023 tuition is $849.
Registering at least three weeks prior to the course start date is highly recommended.

More details

You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the evolution of self-portraiture
  • A familiarity with the most important self-portraits from the 15th century to the present

Ideal for

  • Art enthusiasts
  • Aspiring and practicing arts professional
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.