There are a couple things that influenced the appearance of today's self-portrait.
I read with great interest about the recent death of American artist Cy Twombly. Frankly, I know very little about the man and his art, but while I would never have claimed him as an influence or artistic "hero", I do find his work to be quite interesting. I've stated on numerous occasions that I love art which appears loose and aggressive, and Twombly's scribbles definitely fit into that category. Interestingly enough, while it's hard to see it in much of his work, Twombly held the classical art of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (and their successors, the artists of the Renaissance) in very high regard.
Conversely, I read an article last night that questioned the use of the word quality when judging an artwork. In other words: what exactly is quality, and who makes the decision whether anything (artwork or otherwise) meets the standard? In most cases, quality in the visual arts is judged on the merits of the European (particularly Renaissance) model of what is good and what is not. Obviously the art made in those cultures had a relevance to the societies that made them, but should they still be used to set the guidelines for the quality of today's art?
I found all of this fascinating. Is today's self-portrait a quality work of art? By many people's standards, it couldn't even be considered a self-portrait because it doesn't include my likeness. But the aggressive marks, the use of color, and the words are all things I felt at the time I was making this artwork. A common and probably overused phrase comes to mind: Don't judge a book by its cover. In this instance, don't even look at the cover; just look at what's inside.
#260 July 7, 2011, Ebony pencil and acrylic on paper