Renaissance. Baroque. Romanticism. Realism. Impressionism. Expressionism. Postmodernism. What might the next art movement be? Murmurs of an odd, but undeniably relevant, phenomenon might be the next big thing: an art movement that is all about “me.”
The term “selfie” encompasses the act of taking a picture of yourself. In reality, long before camera phones, people were taking pictures of themselves. And before we used cameras to snap shots from arms-length away, people were capturing their images through painted portraits. You’ll remember that some of the world’s most well-known artists, like Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Picasso and Vincent van Gogh, created self-portraits. But a painted self-portrait in the age before cameras is far different then the ego-centric art of today.
In an article for Artnet.com, JJ Charlesworth proclaimed, “The Ego-Centric Art World is Killing Art.” However, it has been said that such cries were heard every time a new art era dawned and another became history.
Might we be entering a new era where artwork does not call us to look through the eyes of the artist as much as it beckons us to look into the eyes of the artist? Are we about to embrace art that does not lead us to think about events, places, people, or emotions but rather look inward to the sensations we experience and benefit from as a result of art?
Charlesworth uses the example of Marina Abramović’s exhibit “512 Hours” as an example of ego-centric art. Abramović’s performance show seemed to resemble more of a self-help empowerment course than an art display, implies Charlesworth. Known as participatory art, Abramović guided the museum visitors on ways they could live in the present, find themselves and be themselves. These are not bad things, and some people believe the journey to such enlightenment has always been a form of art. It is just different.
For hundreds of years, art has led us to think broadly about the world around us, often teaching us something new about a place or time we could never be in. Now, this shift is leading us to look deeply into ourselves, at a place and time we know all too well: the present.
And, in the ego-centric art era, if art isn’t all about us, it is all about the artist who created it. Charlesworth prompts us to recall Shia LeBeouf’s 2014 performance art show “#iamsorry,” where he invited people to gawk at him wearing a paper bag over his head that read, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.”
Another artist who creates work directly inspired by her life is Tracey Emin. Her first recognizable art work was titled, “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With,” where the names of past lovers (even those whom she was not intimate with) were posted to the inside of a camping tent. Later, Emin created “My Bed,” which was an installment of her bed and the mess of items she kept by it.
Speculators of art seem to recognize the growing presence of ego-centric art, but it has yet to be recognized as a movement. Although, this may be because much of the world is snapping selfies and discussing the latest Facebook copyright ordinances, claiming their posts belong to them. It is, to some, their art. The art of “me.”
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