Yasumasa Morimura, An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns), 2001, color photograph

Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), This Is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection makes its debut at the San Jose Museum of Art. This exhibition features LACMA’s stellar permanent holdings of photography and offers a compelling look at the primacy and variety of expressions within self-portraiture from the vantage of the “Age of the Selfie.”


“In their self-portraits, artists evoke not only who they are as people and what ideas they are exploring, but also who we are as a culture,” writes Deborah Irmas, photography historian and guest curator of the exhibition. “By presenting themselves, these artists allow us to look beyond them, to gain a deeper understanding of what it means for people to live in a complex world of images.” With the selfie firmly in place, it is a particularly prescient moment to revisit the enduring pursuit of the photographic self.


This Is Not a Selfie includes some of the most iconic and groundbreaking images in photographic history produced by artists such as Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Alfred Stieglitz, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition traces themes of self-reflection, performance, confrontation, and memory from early nineteenth-century experiments through contemporary digital techniques in sixty-six outstanding photographic self-portraits drawn entirely from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection, the most significant collection of the subject in the United States.