In this BBC programme, the Observer writer on Art, Laura Cumming, takes us through self-portraits, their intensity and what they say to us about ourselves.
“Ego the strange and wonderful world of self-portraits” is on BBC iplayer for the next 20 days, all 90 minutes of it. (If it looks familiar, it was shown first in November 2010)
Laura Cumming speaks quietly but with well-considered words.
“We are all subliminally trained to read micro-expressions” says one painter having painted a self-portrait, live, in front of the camera. Micro-expressions are those flickering movements of the eyes and face, fleeting movements which you can only see clearly if recorded and played back in low motion – but yet which our human brain is able to quickly “know” and be aware of, without having had time to reason it all out.
She takes the cameras and us to the Vasari corridor in the Uffizi gallery in Florence – the largest collection of self-portraits in the world…. half a mile long. Very rarely open to the public, we get to see it with Laura.