August 22, 2017 - San Jose Museum of Art - This Is Not a Selfie
August 22, 2017

San Jose Museum of Art

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #5, 1977. Gelatin silver print, 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches. © Cindy Sherman. Photo courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

This Is Not a Selfie
Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection
August 25, 2017–January 14, 2018

Opening lecture: September 27, 7:15–8:15pm, Deborah Irmas, guest curator
Reception: September 27, 8–9:30pm

San Jose Museum of Art
110 South Market Street
San Jose, California 95113
United States of America
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

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The San José Museum of Art will explore the fine art of photographic self-portraiture in the “age of the selfie” in a new exhibition on view August 25, 2017 to January 14, 2018. This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and drawn from the most significant collection devoted to the subject, which was donated to LACMA by Audrey and Sydney Irmas beginning in 1992. The exhibition comprises 66 photographs ranging from early 19th century experiments through contemporary digital techniques and includes works by Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Alfred Stieglitz, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol, among others. SJMA is the first venue for This Is Not a Selfie, which will later travel to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL.

“Today millions of selfies, from the funny and self-deprecating to the private and sexually explicit, are shared with friends and strangers around the world,” said Rory Padeken, associate curator at SJMA. “But is the selfie the same as the fine art genre of photographic self-portraiture? This exhibition examines why it is important to make the distinction.”

An illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue includes an essay by photography historian Deborah Irmas as guest curator and 50 extended written entries by Eve Schillo, assistant curator, LACMA, and the curatorial team at the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA, along with a foreword by Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director at SJMA.

“In their self-portraits, artists evoke not only who they are as people and what ideas they are exploring, but also who we are as a culture,” writes Irmas. “By presenting themselves, these artists allow us to look beyond them, to gain a deeper understanding of what it means for people to live in a complex world of images. With the selfie firmly in place, it is a particularly prescient moment to revisit the enduring pursuit of the photographic self.”

This Is Not a Selfie also includes works by Berenice Abbott, Mehemed Fehmy Agha, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Herbert Bayer, Hans Bellmer, Wallace Berman, Joseph Beuys, Ilse Bing, Christian Boltanski, Jonathan Borofsky, Claude Cahun, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Anne Collier, Eileen Cowin, Judy Dater, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Simryn Gill, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Pedro Guerrero, Lyle Ashton Harris and Renee Cox, Florence Henri, Bettina Hoffmann, Peter Keetman, Martin Kersels, Yves Klein, O. Winston Link, El Lissitzky, T. Lux (Theodore Lukas), George Platt Lynes, Danny Lyon, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Pierre Molinier, Jennifer Moon, Yasumasa Morimura, Vik Muniz. Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Paulo Nazareth, Bruce Nauman, Warren Neidich, Helmut Newton, Leonard Nimoy, Luigi Ontani, ORLAN, Chino Otsuka, Hirsch Perlman, Amalia Pica, Alphonse-Louis Poitevin, Sigmar Polke, Ilene Segalove, Malick Sidibé, Anton Stankowski, Ralph Steiner, Seneca Ray Stoddard, Wolfgang Tillmans, and William Wegman. 

This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Deborah Irmas as guest curator along with Eve Schillo, assistant curator, LACMA, with the curatorial team of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA. SJMA’s presentation is organized by Rory Padeken, associate curator. It is sponsored by Applied Materials Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Theres and Dennis Rohan, and Dr. Jan Newstrom Thompson and Paul Goldstein.

Public programs
Deborah Irmas, guest curator, will give a lecture about the exhibition on Wednesday, September 27, at 7:15pm. Irmas’s parents, Audrey and Sydney Irmas, donated their photography collection to LACMA. Deborah Irmas will share insights into her family’s collecting philosophy, her essay for the catalogue, and more. Irmas is an independent curator, art writer, college educator, and documentary film producer. Space is limited and advance tickets are strongly recommended.

Other public programs offered in conjunction with the exhibition include the Lunchtime Lecture "Notes to Self: The Self-Portrait in the Age of Social Media" by Derek Conrad Murray, associate professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, on Wednesday, September 6, at 12pm and a gallery talk by Rory Padeken, associate curator, on Thursday, September 14, at 12pm. For details and tickets, visit sjmusart.org/calendar.

San José Museum of Art​
The San José Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time. SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San José, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 5pm and until 8pm or later on the third Thursday of each month.

Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San José, and the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation.

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