Self: Image and Identity

24 Jan 2015 – 10 May 2015

Turner Contemporary

Kent, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Direct buses to Margate from all surrounding towns in East Kent. Visit Kent County Council's Public Transport website to find your most direct bus route. There you can also download a map of Kent and all available bus routes in the county.
  • High speed trains from London St Pancras and Stratford International run every hour and take just 90 minutes. - Mainline trains from London Victoria, Cannon Street, Charing Cross and London Bridge, which take a little longer. Victoria offers a frequent s

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In a world where 'selfies' have become everyday expressions and ‘Britishness’ is being redefined, what is the role of self-portraiture and how has it shifted through the history of art to the present day?


In this extraordinary new exhibition, Turner Contemporary becomes a frame through which self-portraiture is re-evaluated in the 21st century, sparking conversations on history, celebrity, collecting, gender, mortality and contemporary approaches.

Artists have been recreating their own image for centuries. From self-advertisement and preserving legacy, to figural studies, political commentary and biographical exploration self-representation has shaped Western art.

We reflect on artists' self-portraits from Sir Anthony van Dyck's last Self-portrait of 1640-1, recently saved for the nation, to Louise Bourgeois. Over 100 works, most of which are from the National Portrait Gallery London, are brought together for an expansive look at the artists’ self. 

Historical and contemporary artists sit side by side, including Sir Anthony van Dyck, Mary Beale, Louise Bourgeois, John Constable, Tracey Emin, Jason Evans, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Angelica Kauffmann, Sarah Lucas, Gillian Wearing, Yinka Shonibare, JMW Turner and Andy Warhol.

Be challenged, surprised, and think differently.

Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, with support from the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The acquisition of Van Dyck's last self-portrait was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund in honour of David Verey CBE (Chairman of the Art Fund 2004-2014), the Portrait Fund, The Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, several major individual supporters, and many contributions from the public through the Save Van Dyck appeal, 2014. Turner Contemporary is the first venue on a 3 year UK tour of Van Dyck's Self-portrait.

Sponsored by St Lawrence College.

Exhibiting artists

Yinka Shonibare

John Constable

Lucian Freud

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

Angelica Kauffmann

Jason Evans

Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas

JMW Turner

Louise Bourgeois

Gillian Wearing

Gillian Wearing

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

Mary Beale

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley

David Hockney

David Hockney


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