Carla Accardi is one of the most representative figures of abstract art, not only in Italy but internationally. In Rome, she attended the Art Club with her husband Antonio Sanfilippo since 1946, and in 1947 was among the signatories of the Forma 1 group manifesto. During the 1950s, her highly original abstract medium, centred on the serial repetition of a black and white sign-colour, placed her in the sphere of the Informal movement; she took part in numerous exhibitions curated by the critic Michel Tapié in Italy and abroad. During the 1960s, she experimented with the use of new materials, recovering colour, now applied with fluorescent paints and light refraction, almost optical effects. She also introduced sicofoil as a support for painting, a transparent plastic material previously only used in industry.
After the 1970s, having also experimented with the environmental dimension, Accardi returned to working on the format of the painting, again using the canvas as a support. The compositions, such as this Self-portrait, were now structured on large, uniform monochrome backgrounds. The colour was applied with very careful, controlled gestures, the homogeneity of which is emphasised by the choice of vinyl, which gives great compactness to the surface, while maintaining a natural, non-glossy effect. In this composition, wide, sinuous curved lines harmonise with sharp angles and straight lines; the cold cerulean hue is balanced with purplish red; the painting as a whole is in rhythmic harmony with the rough canvas background, deliberately left clearly visible. A serene and balanced image that effectively reflects the full maturity and awareness reached by the artist following a long and successful career.
The work was donated by the artist to the Uffizi Gallery in 2010.