From Selfie to Self-Expression

Art Free
4 out of 5 stars
(11user reviews)
From Selfie to Self-Expression
Juno Calypso, 'Honeymoon Suite', 2015. Courtesy of the artist and TJ Boulting Gallery.

Love them or loath them, there's no avoiding the selfie. As an instantaneous form of self-portraiture, they're now an integral part of image-making in the twenty-first century. This exhibition charts the selfie's evolution – from the oil self-portraits of Old Masters like Rembrandt to the modern-day posing of Kim Kardashian et al. 

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When I left this exhibition, I wasn't sure whether I'd witnessed a playful, clever review of the state of modern image production, or whether I was witnessing a manifestation of the end of days. I'm still not sure.

It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the installations, and that everything included is there to spark some serious debate. Whatever your opinion of selfie culture, however, the curator has done a very good job of drawing parallels with portraiture from art history, so the exhibition isn't a study in isolated tackiness.

There's a mix of photography from established artists, large scale installation work, and, of course, both researched and crowd-sourced selfies. As a whole show it has a good balance to it.

Selfie to Self-Expression is worth seeing so you can wrap your own opinions around it. The issues it deals with are too contentious for any one reviewer to offer a definitive statement on, so I'm not going to try to. I don't know if I loved or hated it, but I definitely engaged with it. It is worth your time.


Thought provoking and universal, this exhibition is reflective of a massive element of contemporary society: the selfie. Spread across five rooms and representing the selfie in different ways this exhibition makes one think about this huge part of life and how we all take part in it. 

The first room contained large projections of famous paintings and each had an iphone next to it with their face on a tinder profile, which you could of course like. I thought this was hilarious and a great start to the exhibition. Being able to interact with the art is always an interesting thing and I thought using tinder as a platform to do so to images of Rembrandt and Picasso was very clever.

You then moved on to another room which had depictions of sexism, domestic abuse and stereotypes. I found this room particularly powerful as it shows how strong an image can be and again, how thought provoking. I believe society often shys away from important topics like these, so to see the face of an abused woman shows how we must confront these problems and how modern technology and ideas have enabled women and victims of domestic abuse to make some sort of interaction with the world about what is happening to them. I found the whole thing very moving and think it is important to see.

Furthermore, what I assumed to be the main part of the exhibition was underwhelming and a tad stressful. The third room was a projection of hundreds of people talking on a webcam from all over the world. I found it confusing, unnecessary and loud. It is for this reason that I am giving the exhibition a four rather than a five as I do not think it fitted in with the rest of the exhibition. 

Anyway, enough negatives! This is a fabulous free exhibition which should be seen as we as Londoners are very lucky to have access to so many wonderful and modern collections in the big old city.


I'm still in doubt whether this can actually be called an 'art' exhibition or not, as it is more like a self expression selfies' display (as it displays people's auto portraits and selfies), paired with interactive opportunities for self expression from the part of viewers. What I liked most indeed is the opportunity that the spectator has to take pictures using props like "magic" mirrors with embedded filters, sensors that transform your picture into an oil painting, or even a series of mechanic pop pons that thanks to sensors placed above them, can actually reproduce your moved through its mechanic mechanisms. This is surely the exhibition for you if you're into contemporary or performative art. I would have appreciated more explanations though. However, it's free, so go and have a look and spend half an hour of fun taking "Instagrammable" pictures!

Moving images of paintings and rooms filled with glorified idiots smiling. A sad, poor excuse for an exhibition.


Now here’s an 'art' exhibition to fuel a debate! Charting the evolution of the selfie, can this instant form of self-portrait be considered art in the same way as, say, a Da Vinci? A Van Gogh? The work of a modern photographer?

It is essentially an exhibition of selfies. But what makes this exhibition intriguing is the creative twist that people put into their selfies whether it be using props, composition or filters. There are also interactive elements and a huge room showing a video of thousands looking back at you, the camera, people taking pictures - a pretty surreal room.

Whatever you views on selfies, From Selfie to Expression is exhibition we can all get into and understand. Plenty of food for thought, and who knows, you might even be swayed?

It’s also a free exhibition - well worth visiting.


This exhibition is one of the best I’ve seen this year and it’s free. It’s a diverse display of the self portrait. When you first enter you are met with screens of traditional painted portraits which allow you to ‘like’ them. Then you are led to a collection of selfies in the format that we know and love, from images of modern artists like Tracey Emin to an eclectic collection of all types of selfie – the first photo selfie, dangerous ones, spoofed ones, famous ones (many from award ceremonies) and fun ones. The gallery has put a huge amount of thought in what they wanted to display and it looks awesome. The interactive displays are a real show stopper. Check out any works from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Christopher Baker whose works create your own ultimate selfie opportunity. This is a fun and fascinating exhibition that will provide endless material for your social media.


Great exhibition, mixture of interactive mediums, photographic prints and digital media. Every room is difference from the rest! Highly recommend!

Yes this is frivolous but underneath the superficial celebrity obsessed veneer there's a clever & satirical look at this modern phenomena & links to our historical narcisstic tendencies. This is so well curated. I was engaged immediately with the self portraits of some of history's most iconic painters. I was wandering around with a big smile on my face & even laughed out loud at some of the more outrageous & witty pieces. It's interactive too- especially on the 1st floor- I was utterly enthralled by the Pom poms! A fabulous, modern & fun exhibition.


visited the Saatchi Gallery for the first time at the weekend, and struck gold. The Selfie to Self-Expression Exhibition was on. 10 galleries taking you on the journey of the selfie, from the self portraits of Van Gogh and Picasso to the famous celebrity selfie of all time taken at the Oscars. There were also some very interesting interactive art that you could move using sensors and mirrors. I enjoyed every bit of this exhibition, the topic is so relevant to society today and the set up was clever and thought provoking. I particularly enjoyed the first gallery which allowed you to like some of the first ever 'selfies' via a mobile phone. 


A joint effort between the gallery director Nigel Hurst and Saatchi himself definitely deserves a visit to Sloane Square. This is an exhibit that spans half a millennium, taking in Van Gogh and Rembrandt  to Warhol and Emin. It is quite strange to see the self portraits from the Old Masters reproduced as Instagram like artworks bordered by heart shaped  approval symbols. There are some interesting installations. The most memorable were the mock celebrity pieces. As an outsider to the 'selfie' craze it certainly explored the themes on why these are so eagerly practiced, mainly because of empowerment, technique, control of self-image as well as the suspected motive of instant gratification. 

Really good fun, lots to see, and plenty of opportunities to take selfies. Free too.