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Rembrandt and his Self Portraits

One of the most fascinating things about mirrors is that they have traditionally been the only way we can see what we look like. At True Mirror, we dont think this is actually true, since what we look like depends on what we are doing and how we interact. The backwards mirror distorts our expresssions and thus how we interact, both from a physical and from a personal sense...we really have an alter ego in the mirror.

So over the years, artists have been using mirrors to paint their self-portraits, and this altered view is all we have to know them. Rembrandt is a great example of the amazing difference between true image annd altered reverse image, and if you examine his self portraits in a mirror, you will see an amazing new view of Rembrandt, more likely to be what he actually looked like, since the mirror view will "unreverse" the portrait.

The effect is subtle but telling...if you examine the following two montages of Rembrandt, the first is the way we normally see the self-portraits. The second is the same montage but reversed...when you look at both of them, ask yourself which feels more "real", or more normal...the backwards image is by definition not normal, and because Rembrandt was such a good painter, he captures himself very well.

Regular Self-Portraits

Reversed Self-Portraits

BBC radio recently did a story on this effect - here is the description:
Artists and writers reflect on the self-portraits of the Dutch master, who was born 400 years ago. Presenter and philosopher Nigel Warburton explores why, throughout his career, Rembrandt was so fascinated with representing his own features. click here for the current link (requires Real Audio).

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