Narcissism it would seem is an occupational hazard for artists, from Edvard Munch to Egon Schiele from Van Gogh to Matisse, all have indulged. For as Australian artist Rick Amor said “The artist paints self portraits because the model is always there – and free.”
Rebadged in the 21st Century as “selfies” they have become one of social media’s staples. And New York artist Jeanette Hayes has adopted this phenomenon as her own. As she quipped in an interview with The Paper’s Carlos Santolalla, “Warhol and Picasso would have been excellent with social media. I bet Rembrandt would have loved taking selfies. He painted tons of self portraits. But these artists didn't have it, and I do, so I'll take enough selfies for all of us.”
She got her first i-phone when she was 17 and reportedly checks it every 15 minutes. “My first Smartphone was the i-phone, the very first i-phone that came out. I’d just started college and I loved thosegirls, “she says.
Hayes now has accounts with Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook which she updates several times a day. "I don't keep a traditional sketchbook. I think of the internet as my sketchbook," she has said. A boon for her thousands of followers as she builds her brand; they can watch her creative process on a day to day basis.
Now, four years out of art school, where she stayed awake during art history lectures, Hayes career has started to flourish. Her paintings are combination of copied historical masterpieces and up to the minute renderings of images from the internet. “I think of these works as master study, with commentary," she says.
Although she is expanding her repertoire with multimedia applications and video works like her latest solo exhibition at the 55 Gansevoort Street Gallery. This American Life is a 30 minute looped, selfie-filled video chronicle of what she considers the year's best moments captured on Instagram, Vine, and her own i-phone. And if the trailer for this short film is anything to go by the fast lane is the destination.
This American Life is on show at 55 Gansevoort Street until the 5th of January and like the internet viewable 24/7.