Great Job, Internet!: PBS offers a surprisingly artsy history of the infamous selfie

The selfie is often maligned as everything that is wrong the current century. It is vain, silly, narcissistic, frivolous, etc. But hold on: Setting aside the fact that artists have been painting pictures of themselves for thousands of years, often famously, it is important to note that the photographic self portrait is as old as photography itself. Every time Kim Kardashian snaps an arm’s-length picture of herself with a smartphone, she is participating in a proud, noble tradition dating back to the mid-1800s. In a new episode of its webseries The Art Assignment, PBS now offers “The Art History Of The Selfie.” Host Sarah Urist Green traces the history of the selfie all the way back to the early, experimental days of photography when self-portraits were sometimes less a conscious choice than a necessity. As the decades rolled by and photography became more advanced, artists started using photographic self-portraits …

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