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Auto Focus

The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography

Susan Bright

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Surveys established and emerging contemporary photographers through the fascinating lens of self-portraiture


Auto Focus features a dazzling array of photographs by seventy-five of the world's foremost contemporary photographers whose work focuses on self-portraiture. The photography writer and curator Susan Bright provides a clear guide for readers through this significant and dynamic genre, showing how issues of identity - whether national, sexual, racial, personal or artistic - are key to understanding the work of many of today's leading photographers.

Bright's lavishly illustrated, accessible survey is clearly organized into five thematic chapters that deal with diaristic and autobiographical images; pictures of the body; the use of masks and masquerade; the return to studio portraiture and the photographic album; and performance, both public and private. An informative illustrated introduction to the book points to the history of the photographic self-portrait from the 1840s to the late twentieth century, providing an invaluable context for the recent surge in artists' images of themselves.

From intimate images of introspection and those that consciously challenge notions of ethnicity and sexuality, to dramatic, stylized photographs of dream-like scenarios, Auto Focus shows how one of the longest-established artistic genres continues to fascinate artists today.

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'Intriguing … a feast of elaborate photographic reinvention'

'An inspirational tome'
Professional Photographer

'Insightful and commanding … an indispensable modern guide to the long-established art of the self-portrait'
Glass Magazine

'A great compilation of images on a particularly difficult genre of photography … very engaging text'
Amateur Photographer

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.5 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 224 pp

Illustrations: 332

Publication date: 23 August 2010

ISBN: 9780500543894

Contents List

Introduction • Autobiography • Body • Masquerade • Studio & Album Performance

About the Author

Susan Bright is a curator and writer. She has taught extensively in the UK and convened major international conferences and seminars on many aspects of art and photography. She was formerly Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, Curator at the Association of Photographers and Acting Director for the MA Photography (Historic and Contemporary) at Sotheby’s Insitute of Art, London.