Self Portraits for Leslie Laskey's 90th Birthday

In 2011, seventy-three of Leslie Laskey’s many friends prepared self-portraits in his honor. They were presented to him at his ninetieth birthday “Celebration Weekend” in September 2011. Other events during that weekend included the opening of Leslie’s retrospective exhibition at Steinberg Gallery at Washington University in St. Louis, the opening of his one-man show titled S.E.N.T. (Security Envelopes Now Tampered) at Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, a private showing of these self-portraits, and a party at the Columbia Foundation.

The following is the introduction to Studio L’s publication of these self portraits, written by Warren Ashworth on behalf of the Studio L board:

The assignment was simple. Send a self-portrait in celebration of your friend Leslie’s 90th birthday on an 11 × 17 ground with your name on it somewhere.

Fully seventy three entries were received and are presented in this volume. Leslie Laskey has always been partial to the self-portrait assignment. How amusing it would have been to mount these current self-portraits with the ones many of us did for him all those years ago.

Assigning such a project always brings surprises since some of us are less inclined to introspection than our peers and would never otherwise dream of engaging our face in the mirror for anything more than a cursory check on the progress of graying hair or the disappearance thereof.

One aspect of these images that is markedly different from our youth is the preponderance of glasses. It is interesting to note how people handle the representation of this facial feature not present at birth. One example by Dennis Cope has a real pair secured to his drawing.

Some artists are much more given to the subject of themselves than others. While Rembrandt regularly reflected on himself in paintings and drawings, Velázquez could barely be bothered. Few self-portraits of him exist. One, from his youthful sojourn in Rome, is not even finished; his shirt has been left in grey ground color and his features are only roughly hinted. It gives the impression he just was not interested. Yet, his presence in Las Meninas in front of what would have been the largest mirror in the world (at the time) has suited posterity quite admirably.

Thus, with this little book, seventy three of us say hello to posterity and beg its indulgence.