SELFIE TO SELF-EXPRESSION at the Saatchi Gallery

“Why are all those people standing with their back to the Eiffel Tower?” I wondered out loud on a visit to Paris a few years ago.  “They are taking selfies”, I was informed by two barely ten year olds.  Everywhere you go now, it seems that somebody will be pointing a camera phone at themselves to record their visit.  Now the Saatchi Gallery has decided to put on the first exhibition devoted to the selfie or Saatchi Selfie.  Where better to take the teens?

Saatchi selfie

The first room is filled with images of old-school selfies, those painted with brushes and paint by artists.  This being the twenty-first century, the paintings are not the actual paintings on canvas but photos of them displayed on what looks like giant phone screens.  You are encouraged to vote for your favourite by touching the screen and are rewarded by a big heart.

Saatchi selfie

One vast room is devoted to thousands of images of people using Skype, FaceTime and the like.  Not only can you see them, you can hear them too: its like sitting in the middle of a call centre and hearing one end of lots of conversations.  The projector even projects on you, casting your shadow on the display, making you become a part of it.  All very clever.

saatchi selfie

There are pictures of people taking selfies and lots of those selfies themselves.  I confess that one of my favourites is a piece of fake news.  Alison Jackson is well known for a her photographs that look like paparazzi shots but are actually cleverly composed using actors.  This shot of hers purporting to show Donald Trump taking a selfie with some Miss Universe contestants is great, we can believe it, but at the same time there are tiny details that go just too far over the top.

It’s not just humans that take selfies; this macaque monkey is the first known animal to knowingly take its own photo.  I notice with dismay that he has got the smiling and looking into the lens thing on his first attempt, unlike my own sorry attempts.  Maybe if I asked the macaque, he could take a photo of me?

31 March 2017 – 30 May 2017
Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, SW3 4RY
Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Wander Mum


  1. April 7, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    Van Gogh – An early pioneer (no pun intended) of the selfie! πŸ˜€ Looks like a fascinating exhibition. #CulturedKids

      • April 7, 2017 / 4:26 pm

        Right, that’s it. You’ve sold me. I’m looking for a home exchange family in London right now! (Can’t afford the hotels with four kids in tow…)

  2. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    April 7, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    This looks absolutely brilliant – such a clever concept. I can’t get the hang of selfies and my husband is worse as he doesn’t know what part of the phone to look at.

    • Catherine
      April 7, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      That’s my problem I try all directions and still look deranged

  3. Wherejogoes
    April 7, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    What a brilliant idea for an exhibition! The world has gone selfie mad so it’s a really interesting theme to discuss. Why do people feel they haven’t been somewhere if they haven’t got a selfie?
    It’s the FOMO generations! #culturedkids

  4. April 8, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    This looks like such a fun exhibition – and I’m not even that keen on selfies πŸ™‚

    • Catherine
      April 9, 2017 / 7:35 am

      I’m so bad at selfies that Now I’m thinking maybe there might be a YouTube video that will transform me into a taller, slimmer, more beautiful selfie friendly person!

      • April 9, 2017 / 7:40 am

        Hah! If you find it please link it πŸ™‚

  5. April 9, 2017 / 1:55 pm

    Oh I really like the look of this, love the Macaque picture! Also great when exhibitions are free too! #culturedkids

  6. April 10, 2017 / 9:35 am

    Ah, now this is somewhere I need to visit! The selfie’s such a fascinating thing. And I wonder what animal urges prompts both humans and monkeys to do it? Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      April 10, 2017 / 9:58 am

      The age profile of visitors was interesting too, much younger than other galleries

  7. April 10, 2017 / 2:06 pm

    This looks like a fun exhibition – and quite an interesting thing to examine, the self-portrait. I think my son would really enjoy it. #culturedkids

  8. April 11, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    So….that macaque is definitely way cooler than I am! πŸ˜‰

    What a fun exhibit for the young – and the slightly not to young who just want to try and figure out what all this selfie business is about! πŸ˜‰

  9. April 11, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    I totally watch this documentary on my last flight about that monkey! The photographer got sued because people were arguing that the image belonged to the monkey lol. Of course YEARS later, a judge threw out the case. The monkey took the photographer’s camera and went at it, taking tons of selfies lol. #citytripping

  10. April 11, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    Now there’s a great idea for an exhibition, especially that macaque monkey’s “entry”! Certainly caught my eye πŸ™‚ A great way to get teens to an art gallery as well. #CityTripping

  11. tracystravels10
    April 11, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Great idea for an exhibition!! Love the idea – the monkey is fantastic! #citytripping

  12. April 11, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    Interesting. I’m no good at selfies myself mind you, but I quite enjoy other people’s.

  13. Kat
    April 12, 2017 / 8:45 am

    The macaque monkey selfie is classic! I had always thought it was a photo-shopped picture until the photographer shared in the news how he got this monkey to do a selfie. Maybe it’s monkey see, monkey do? πŸ™‚ #Citytripping

  14. April 12, 2017 / 9:15 am

    What a great way to combine art with modern culture, and make some comments about society too That macaque nailed it.

  15. April 20, 2017 / 9:18 pm

    This looks like a entertaining and fun exhibition, I would just love it. And I also feel your frustration about the macaque nailing that shot. Beginner’s luck, I hope. #CulturedKids

  16. April 24, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Looks like a great exhibition for parents and their teens: the grown ups can learn about this relatively new craze while the kids can learn about the history of it. I’m going to try to drag my kids to the Portrait Gallery but if that’s not a success this might be a good back up!

    • Catherine
      April 24, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      Tricky decision, I love the Portrait Gallery

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