Edwin Dickinson

American, 1891–1978

Self-Portrait, 1950

Oil on canvas

11½ x 9½ inches


Dickinson’s drawings and paintings hover between romantic representation and abstract expressionism. The elusive, poetic sensibility present at the dawn of his career persisted throughout his oeuvre, which can be divided into four categories: large semi-abstract symbolic paintings; directly observed premier coups; exceptional drawings; and a series of self-portraits primarily painted in the second half of his life.

Dickinson completed about 28 self-portraits, though few have survived. The majority of them are frontal portraits: full face, looking straight out from the canvas. In 1950, upon his acceptance as a member of the National Academy of Design, Dickinson painted a nude self-portrait that he eventually divided into three separate works. Self-Portrait is the head from the original painting. Here Dickinson presents himself as though a shingle is blowing across his face in high wind. Many of Dickinson’s works demonstrate an affinity with surrealism, juxtaposing disparate objects in the most unlikely situations. The execution of this eccentric relationship distinguishes Self-Portrait.