The earliest self-portraits go back to the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Probably even earlier than that. The Cro-Magnon cave paintings sometimes have stencils of the artists' hands. Since they probably didnt have mirrors then, I would submit that those hands were a form of self-portrait.
There has to be some level of conceit in the making of a self-portrait. Or is it insecurity; a fear of just vanishing into oblivion? Of course any artist's work can be considered a mixture of conceit and insecurity, but the self-portrait is another kettle of sandtrout altogether, there's something else other than the paradox of conceit-insecurity. It's the artist trying to capture some lost and fleeting something in the his or her soul. Or it's the artist just saving money--models arent cheap and they need to practice.
Or maybe it's none of those. Maybe they do it because it's fun.
My impression of a grouper fish. Grouper fish like to hang out
with starfish. Because theyre grouper fish. (Mitch Hedberg)
Smaa-a-a-aaash. My tribute to Jack Kirby.
In a reflective mood.