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Image of Self Portrait with Rembrandt

John O'Reilly , (Feb 22, 1930–May 20, 2021)

Self Portrait with Rembrandt

4 7/8 x 6 1/4 in.

Medium and Support: Paper and photograph montage
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 1979.26


John O'Reilly (b. 1930) questions the position of the artist in contemporary society and the tradition of art-making through his appropriation of well-known images from the past. He deals with themes of representation and perception as seen throughout art history. By creating collages of photographs, which we unwittingly accept as true, he creates a new reality based on his imagination. In this photograph O'Reilly uses a technique derived from the surrealists, juxtaposing his own nude back against a monumental enlargement of Rembrandt's self-portrait to create this startling incongruity and visual pun. As a 1990 North Carolina Museum of Art exhibition catalogue states, "these collages are more than wry gambols through an art museum. Humor aside, the images seduce and confound the mind, possessing the enigma and visionary authority of dreams. And, like dreams, they order and reconcile conscious experience. The artist, who is a student of both art history and psychoanalysis, acknowledges that 'my own history and the history of art are brought together in these collages.' His art is truly theater of the self, performed in tableaux, each collage a miniature drama where time and space are upended, and where the dramatist, director, and often, lead actor, is John O'Reilly."
Sarah Vure

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