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Posted on: October 19, 2020

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery at the Springfield Art Museum

Eye to I identity


Springfield, MO. (October 19, 2020) – The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to present Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery organized by the Portrait Gallery’s Chief Curator Emerita Brandon Brame Fortune. At a time when countless “selfies” are being posted on social media channels and identity is proving to be more and more fluid, the exhibition presents a sampling of how artists have approached the exploration of representation and self-depiction through portraiture. With each self-portrait, artists either reaffirm or rebel against a sense of identity that links the eye to “I.” Drawing from the National Portrait Gallery’s vast collection, Eye to I examines how artists in the United States have chosen to portray themselves since the beginning of the last century. 

The Springfield Art Museum’s hosting of Eye to I features 58 works in a variety of styles and media ranging from caricatures to photographs, from colorful watercolors to dramatic paintings and time-based media. The exhibition traces the process through which select artistic practices have transitioned from gazing into the mirror to looking into the camera; from painted, drawn surfaces to mechanical reproductions such as prints and photographs; from static forms to video. Artworks to be included in the exhibition span the art historical timeline from 1901 to today. Early works include self-portraits of Edward Steichen, Alexander Calder, and composer George Gershwin, who was also a painter. More recent self-portraits include a video work by Ana Mendieta, and work in a variety of media by Chuck Close, Lois Dodd, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Alison Saar, as well as a large-scale painting by Roger Shimomura, Shimomura Crossing the Delaware.

“Individuals featured in Eye to I have approached self-portraiture at various points in history, under unique circumstances, and using different tools, but their representations—especially when seen together—all raise important questions about self-perception and self-reflection,” says Brandon Brame Fortune, Chief Curator Emerita, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “Some artists reveal intimate details of their inner lives through self-portraiture, while others use the genre to obfuscate their private selves or invent alter egos.” 

Featured in Eye to I are self-portraits by prominent figures in the history of portraiture, including Robert Arneson, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Deborah Kass, Elaine de Kooning, Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, Irving Penn, Robert Rauschenberg, Fritz Scholder, Roger Shimomura, Edward Steichen, and many more.

PUBLICATION: Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery has a richly illustrated companion volume that features an introduction by Brandon Brame Fortune and nearly 150 insightful entries on key self-portraits in the museum's collection. The book was published by the National Portrait Gallery, in association with Hirmer Publishers (2019). 336 pages. 175 color plates. 7 x 9 in. Hardcover. $45.00. Distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS: All public programs and events remain cancelled through January 9, 2021 in accordance with Phase 3B of the City of Springfield, MO Road to Recovery Plan. Face masks are required in accordance with City of Springfield, MO ordinance and social distancing is encouraged.

See Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery beginning October 24, 2020 through January 17, 2021. This exhibition has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. and supported in part by Mr. and Mrs. Michael H. Podell. Support for the Springfield Art Museum’s hosting of this exhibition has been provided in part by the Melinda J. McDaniel Charitable Trust. The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.


The Springfield Art Museum is Springfield, Missouri’s oldest cultural institution, founded in 1928. A department of the City of Springfield, the Museum invites you to connect with the world, your community, and yourself through active engagement with art objects. For more information, please visit or contact Joshua Best, Development and Marketing Coordinator at (417) 874-2859 or

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives tell the American story. The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington, DC. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Eye to I: Self-Portraits from the National...
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