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Lacking a chair and a musical score, the only notes the piano suggests are yet to be played or belong to the past, facts which add to the silence rather than filling it.Empty they may be, but they are full of atmosphere.‘My paintings are simply poetic; I am not interested in any conceptual meaning.’ They are also full of light.
Even the images that look traditional are not what they seem on the surface.
Andre Breton’s self portrait was made by an automatic photography machine in 1924 and Linder’s image was taken by the photographer Christine Birrer in 1981. In Jeremy Deller: Iggy Pop Life Class, Brooklyn Museum, Heni Publishing, London 2016 We all hold an image of a life class in our heads: a naked human holding a pose in front of a group of clothed students silently transposing what they see into pencil, paint or charcoal.
To get a better understanding of the artist beyond the factual details of her life, we spoke to author Frances Borzello.
In 2016, Frances wrote Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits, a diverse exploration of female artists and self-portraits from the 12th century to modern day. Creating Ourselves: Works from the ISelf Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, 2017 Once upon a time, everyone knew what a self portraits was: an artist’s painting of his or her own face .
Jeremy Deller calls the lifeclass the bedrock of art and art history.
“The life class is a special place in which to scrutinize the human form.
At one point, they were scientists, and then frontiersmen, and then scouts,” he says, raising his voice slightly over a soundtrack of woodpeckers and creaking trees coming from speakers inside a ziggurat of blackened wood. Your kids have been part of your art-making process since they were born. Sometimes, I’ll have to make rules to make clear that we’re doing this, and that it’s something else than us just playing.
Our imagined lives and real lives are kind of intertwined.
In earlier centuries, they made them for a patron, for experimentation , for reproduction as a print, or as a way for prospective clients to assess the artist’s skill by comparing the real with the painted self portrait. Type in how to paint a self portrait and you will be overwhelmed with advice involving mirrors, the placement of facial features and hints at how to trap a likeness.
And yet when you look around this exhibition, this definition crumbles.