“We live in the age of the selfie,” Jerry Saltz wrote in 2014.
A few short years ago, one could say that people were still primarily interested in recording what was in front of them. Then, all of a sudden, people were turning their cameras around and taking pictures of themselves.
But as it happens, Jean Pigozzi (born 1952)—Italian businessman, art collector, philanthropist and photographer—has been taking selfies for more than 40 years (even though he is neither an American nor a millennial)! If the selfie is still in its “Neolithic phase,” as Saltz suggested, Pigozzi’s photographs represent a previously unknown Paleolithic one, with Pigozzi taking selfies as early as the 1970s.
Jean Pigozzi: ME + CO brings this unique body of work together for the first time. The book includes dozens of famous faces, such as those of Mick Jagger, Faye Dunaway, Mel Brooks, Andy Warhol and Lady Gaga, all pressed against Pigozzi’s face; Pigozzi also poses with the belly of a Turkish belly dancer, a busload of Japanese tourists and a stuffed dog. Pigozzi’s collected selfies are fascinating and fun, both for their strangely contemporary quality and for their old-school innocence.