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'Eye To I' Exhibition Celebrates Over A Century Of Self-Portraiture

"Why do artists paint so many self-portraits?"

"For starters, they're always available, says Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. 'In the middle of the night when the urge strikes, you've got yourself.'"

"Some artists can't afford models, others are simply vain. Portrait Gallery curator Brandon Fortune thinks self-portraits let artists work out technical problems. And of course, there's posterity: 'They're also done as a kind of self-reflection," Fortune says. "To present a persona to the world that may not be true or authentic, but is the character the artist wants to be remembered as.'"

"More than 70 of these autobiographical artworks are now on view at the Portrait Gallery in an exhibition called Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today. Twenty-one-year-old Edward Hopper is moody, in a charcoaled turtle neck. Diego Rivera does not disguise his double chin. Jim Dine has no chin — or head, for that matter — he just etches his bathrobe."

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