Artist’s Self Portraits Spanning Over Five Years Document The Painful Progression Into Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes called The Long Goodbye, a gradual loss of memory, self, and eventually, life. When artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he began to make a series of self-portraits that would continue for five years. Looking at the pictures in chronological order is looking at a life diminished by degrees. As his technical skill ebbed, so did Utermohlen’s apparent sense of self. Still, the urge to create persisted.

In an essay about the self-portraits, Utermohlen’s wife, Pat, wrote:

“In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness. The great talent remains, but the method changes. He sometimes uses water-colour and paints a series of masks, perhaps because he could more quickly express his fear. In both the oils and water-colours these marvellous self portraits express his desperate attempt to understand his condition. There is a new freedom of expression, the paint is applied more thickly, art-historically speaking the artist seems less linear and classical, more expressionist, and I see ghosts of his German heritage.”

Worldwide, nearly 36 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia—almost everyone will be touched by Alzheimer’s in some way during their lifetimes. Although Pat Utermohlen told the New York Times, “It’s so strange to be known for something you’re doing when you’re rather ill,” it was also a testament to William Utermolen’s ability as an artist that he was able to transcend his own experience, even unknowingly, and create work that was at once profound, heart-breaking, and universal.

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Roberto Foddai Turns The Camera On Himself In His Dramatic, Erotic, And Comedic Self-Portraits

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It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.

Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:

1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.

2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.

3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.

We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.

I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.

In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.

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Marwane Pallas’ Disturbing, Provocative Photographs Ooze Sexual Tension

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The French photographer Marwane Pallas’ painterly photographs contain within their borders an uncomfortable blend of allure and violence. His work centers around the body, honing in on its urges and most private yearnings. At times, the body itself is seen in profound sharpness, crystal clear, while it also sometimes bleeds sensual color, as if painted on a canvas. Pallas’ highly stylized images read more like murals than photographs, deliberately and seductively drawing us into a fictitious and allegorical narrative.

With his series What I Eat, the artist presents human appetite as an visceral marker of identity; a housewife is forced to eat her clothes iron, and a (possibly transgender) woman, having undergone a breast augmentation, munches on a plastic barbie doll, symbolic of the idealized female form. A cancer patient dips his cigarettes in ketchup, and a priest hesitates for just a moment before devouring a wooden crucifix.

In This Is My Body, religious allegorical icons stand in for an overwhelming eroticism. Eve in the Making presents the artist as still and pale as marble, wounded like Jesus Christ, engaging in an act of intimacy with a translucent head, whom we might imagine to stand in for God. In another self-portrait, a nose bleed causes blood, seen as wine like the blood of Christ, to drip over his parted lips into a glass below. A candle drips onto a pair of praying hands; on closer inspection, we see that the waxy light lays in place of a man’s erect phallus. Like Eve, the artist into apple that ultimately brings death, containing within it an ominous skull.

In Sur/Face, this sensualized physical body undergoes a metamorphosis, veering into a metaphysical and spiritual realm. Enchanted forests cover the artist’s head, and mossy roots stand in for veins. The flesh cracks open to reveal a layer of fresh new skin. Take a look.

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Caleb Cole Becomes Other People In His Photo Series ‘Other People’s Clothes’

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Boston-based photographer Caleb Cole creates self-portraits that are not so much about himself. Cole’s curiosity about the live (introspective lives) of others inspired him to come up with Other People’s Clothes, a photographic series in which the artist becomes the stranger, the ‘Other’, in order to further understand his desire to know more about the unknown.

“Though I am the physical subject of these images, they are not traditional self-portraits. They are portraits of people I have never met but with whom I feel familiar, as well as documents of the process wherein I try on the transitional moments of others’ lives in order to better understand my own.”

By using scavenged clothing and various themed setting that matched the clothing, the artists creates characters that resembles people in real life – I assume, people by whom he is intrigued by (he fails to portray people of color/other ethnicities, although he does not exclude women). Each photograph evokes a story, which Cole makes possible by arranging and creating the set of each and every one of these images.

The artist’s facial expressions, however, seem static; he seems to hold about the same face, one of despair or discontent, throughout the series. The reason behind that specific characteristic is unknown, however it can be speculated that he might be channeling his own beleifs about the people he is portraying…can all his characters be this unhappy and apathetic about life in real life, or are those just his impressions?

Whatever his reasons may be, there is no doubt that, through his representation of the ‘real people’, Cole is demonstrating an understated sense of empathy. (via Feature Shoot)

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Awesome Video Of The Day: Van Gogh’s Morphed Portraits

I know this video is a tad on the cheesy side of the spectrum but you gotta admit that it’s interesting to see these Van Gogh portraits shapeshifting from one work to the next. The most bizarre part is that the expression never changes once.

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Dan Baeza

Dark, deconstructed self-portraits by photographer Dan Baeza.

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Gabriela Herman Photography

Gabriela Herman Photography

Gabriela Herman’s photography portfolio features a wide array of self portraits and photos from various travels.

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