Lecturer Marina Shchedrinskaya—artist, teacher, longtime reader of the Russian State Art Library (RSAL)—sent her listeners on a free flight through a variety of styles, directions, and manners of writing. She demonstrated how to ‘read’ a self-portrait, to hear and understand the artist’s dialogue with himself, with art, and with viewers.
Marina Shchedrinskaya considers the theme of self-portraiture as self-representation of the artist to be insufficiently explored and to be exciting and novel. Official and ceremonial portraits provide signs and clues, while psychological ones require dialogue, they are interactive and dynamic. At the same time, a self-portrait can be read as a fascinating biopic, or its artistic merits simply enjoyed.
The lecture primarily focused on Rembrandt van Rijn—with approximately 80 known self-portraits—and Anatoly Zverev, who, according to some sources, has captured his own image more than 160 times. It became evident that there is a great deal in common between one of the greatest 17th-century Dutch painters and the Soviet avant-garde artist: their self-portraits constitute the biographies of the artists, their difficult paths of explorations, victories, and failures.