Utermohlen, William (American, 1933-2007)

Self-Portrait (Red)

Reference Type:
In this image artist William Utermohlen, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, represented his head in an extremely poignant and expressive way. The eyes are almost unreadable—he is not looking at us, but slightly upwards at something outside our field of vision. Or perhaps he is not focusing on anything in the physical world. Maybe he has turned his sight inwards to consider what is going on in the part of his brain that is affected with Alzheimer’s, which is emphasized by a distinct outline surrounding his forehead. The rest of his face, and his hair, are activated by diagonally oriented lines, which add to the energy created in the chaotic background and perhaps reflect his state of mind. The jarring patches of orange-brown, bright yellow, and green that Utermohlen added to his face intensify the feeling of disharmony. Red and green are complementary colors that when placed next to one another both clash and make each other look more vivid, an effect that contributes to the overall distressing mood of the self-portrait. Notes by Mariann Smith
Mental Disorders
Patient Experience
Collection Poilleux, Paris