Top: Courbet, Young Girl from Ornans (1842)                               R: David Duncan, Picasso in Cannes (1950's)
Bottom: Courbet, Self-portrait with Striped Collar (1854)

Many great artists I follow use a feature other than the face to identify themselves in pictures that are not self-portraits. Given that all their figures represent the artist, they need a variety of methods to hide and reveal their self-references. Stripes were one of Courbet's favorites. In his paintings he wears striped pants, striped collars and puts similar stripes on other figures (left, above and below.) They mean more than just fashion. At the same time later artists often feel at one with a great predecessor, not only as part of the same tradition but as a sense that they share the same mind. Picasso felt that strongly which is why he had the striped trousers at right custom-made by his local tailor as a sign of his affinity with Courbet.1

Studying photographs of modern artists like Picasso can be helpful because, as is their habit, they sometimes reveal in their life what they hide in their art.  

For more on this subject, visit the theme Artist as Other Artist.


1. Memory Holloway, Making Time: Picasso's Suite 347 (New York: Peter Lang) 2006, p. 13

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