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In this essay, Rafael Romero D. analyzes the significance of the self-portraits rendered by the Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón between 1910 and 1954. He states that it is Reverón who raises the genre of self-portrait to the “stature of an artwork” in Venezuelan painting. According to the analysis of the changes in the artist’s style during the different periods in which he creates his self-portraits, the works express explorations that are both artistic and psychogenic. It is an art life in which the artist is both subject and object of it. The critic distinguishes three periods in the artist’s self-portraits; the first is his early or student period in 1910. In a second period starting in 1933, during which his pictorial investigations are linked to his emotional journey, we see gestural strokes that are predominantly white. Finally, in the third period, which begins in 1947 and lasts until 1951, the artist creates self-portraits with dolls.
This essay by the critic and museologist Rafael Romero D. represents one of the first texts about Reverón’s work focused on one specific theme—in this case, the self-portrait. Similarly, to date, it is the only essay written by a Venezuelan critic on the self-portrait genre in the work of Armando Reverón (1889–1954); that is why it is so important. In general, there are very few specialized essays written on any specific theme in Reverón’s work. There is actually only one other essay on his self-portraits: “El espejo,” by the English curator and critic John Elderfield (text included in the catalogue Armando Reverón. El lugar de los objetos (Caracas: Fundación Galería de Arte Nacional, 2001) written more than ten years after Romero’s piece.
Romero’s text is key to studies of Reverón for the clear definition of chronological periods proposed by the writer and because the author sets forth a central thesis. In his opinion, Reverón’s self-portrait genre has the status of being a “major genre” within the body of the artist’s work, alongside landscapes and figures. This thesis is repeated cogently by Romero when he states that the self-portraits are a “metaphor and matchless document” about the life of this notable Venezuelan art innovator.
[As a supplementary reading, see the biographical document attributed to Armando Reverón “Datos del pintor Armando Reverón,” in the ICAA digital archive (doc. No. 809055) and the main text of the catalogue for the artist’s retrospective (Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 1955), “Armando Reverón o la voluptuosidad en la pintura” by Alfredo Boulton (doc. No. 808768)].