A Face to the World, By Laura Cumming

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The Independent Culture

"There has never been much money or glory in it" - but the self-portrait comes from, and speaks to, a level of inwardness that no other genre can attain.

Far from an academic trudge in the gallery from school to school, Laura Cumming's spiral tour of the self-portrait through time, form and character – from van Eyck to van Gogh, Dürer to Warhol, Rembrandt to Kahlo – deserves a place of honour on every art lover's shelf.

Tenderly, creatively written, jargon- and waffle-free, the book wears deep learning with an unaffected grace but touches – via themed chapters on mirrors, victims or loners - on truths beyond the protocols of art criticism. We close the studio door with the ailing Carracci, in 1604, striving to show himself as we all are: "a work in progress".

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