Arts Everyday Living: Inside the Self Portrait–The Mirror to Immortality

Reposted blog.



You can see me taking a picture of myself!

                                                           Henri Evenepoel, Letter to his father



Belgian Henri Evenepoel was only 26 in 1898 when he took this hypnotic photo of himself in Paris–with an early Kodak hand-held  camera in front of a three way mirror. He must have been excited by the prospects of the new century in both art and technology.   Among his friends was Henri Matisse, who at his death in1954 would be praised as one of the world’s artistic giants.

However, Evenepoel died of typhoid fever, within a year of his innovative self portrait.  He was mourned by contemporary critics for his talent as a painter (photography was not yet acknowledged as a creative medium) but then mainly forgotten. Until he surfaced again in a special exhibition appropriately called Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard that toured museums such as the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2011-2012.


Henri Evenepoel, Self Portrait in a Three Way Mirror, 1898, modern gelatin silver print, 2011, from original negative, Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Archives of Contemporary Art in Belgium.

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