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First room
Before the Mirror

The exhibition opens at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with self-portraits by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch and Picasso in which the narcissistic gesture of self-exploration before a mirror becomes a key tool of experimentation. These artists appear before us as authentic images of the modern artist, while also revealing to the viewer their intellectual and artistic aspirations.

During the course of the 20th century the self-portrait became widespread in art while also becoming less precise and intimate. On occasions the artist openly revealed his or her emotions, but generally adopted disguises of numerous different types that responded to a dual desire to both define and hide the self.
Vincent van Gogh
Self-Portrait, 1887
Oil on canvas, 15 5/8 x 13 1/4 in. (39.7 x 33.7 cm)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford.
Gift of Philip L. Goodwin in memory
of his mother, Josephine S. Goodwin

Paul Gauguin
Self-Portrait, 1885
Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 21 3/8 in. (65.2 x 54.3 cm)
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Self-Portrait: The Night Wanderer

Edvard Munch
Self-Portrait: The Night Wanderer, 1923-1924
Oil on canvas, 35 1/4 x 26 5/8 in. (89.5 x 67.5 cm)
Munch Museum, Oslo