The self-portrait has not always existed in the history of art. Absent in antiquity and with first examples traceable back to the Middle Ages, it was only during the Renaissance that self-portraiture became a genre of art it its own right. It was then that artists began to express an awareness of their own value, placing themselves at the centre of the painting with a gaze that would evolve over the following centuries, allowing us a glimpse at artists such as Albrecht Durer, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Goya, Van Gogh, Schiele, Frieda Kahlo, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.
In recent decades, the self-portrait has ceased to belong exclusively to artists. Everyone is invited to portray themselves even from early school years, and there is no lack of tools or spaces with which a self-portrait can be achieved. The categories of political, religious, sexual and cultural belonging, that in the past defined a secure perimeter for a person’s notion of identity, have now faded. Moreover, the Internet has created a universally accessible and free space for self-expression. Everyone is invited to create a representation of one’s self in a space of free fluctuation, a space in which identity becomes a design object. And this concept of identity and image as design is reiterated through the choices everyone makes when it comes to how they choose to adorn their bodies and the spaces to inhabit, through objects, devices, clothes, physical locations, and virtual spaces. We are all ‘curators’ of ourselves, self-designers expressing ourselves through the consumption of products or experiences of our choosing and through the ways in which we communicate these choices to others.