CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


BARTSCH, Anna-Maria
The Selfie - Art or Expression of the “Stupidity of the Masses”?

Session 18 Media and Visuality

Department of Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximilians University München


Selfies are everywhere. When it comes to Selfies one has to understand that this is quite obviously a new and common form of cultural life. Historically, self-portraying is exclusively reserved for the artist, i.e. the painter. Nowadays, everyone quasi acts like an artist insofar as the Selfie enables any subject to create an „illusional picture“ of oneself. This leads to the question of whether a Selfie is to be considered a simple social phenomenon or whether there is an aesthetic value in Selfies. If so, then Selfies should be seen as a new kind of art-form that is the result of scientific development. In this case, as was the case with the function self-portraits played in art history, one has to suppose a shift in how the subject views itself in the world. This is due to the new medium and technology which in turn abolish the restrictions created through temporal and spatial borders. In this sense, a Selfie can be considered a modern manner of distraction, insofar as it releases the subject from self-reflection, it disengages him. Instead, by posting a Selfie on Social Networks like Twitter, one can switch from self-reflection to reflections on and by others. If the Selfie is understood as an aesthetic phenomenon, it functions similar to classical paintings or photographs did, in order to express the peculiar relationship between humans and world. My contribution aims to discuss the status of Selfies in the aesthetic context, in order to develop an account of the relationship between art and new media. Is it that Selfies — as Charles Baudelaire claimed in the case of photographs — are an expression of a „Dummheit der Menge“(stupidity of the masses) or are Selfies to be considered aesthetically valuable? 

BARTSCH, Anna-Maria  


10/2013 -ongoing

Teaching Assistent at Department of Philosophy Munich

10/2011- 03/2012

Study at École Normale Supérieure Paris and Paris X -Université Nanterre Paris (France)

10/2010- 09/2012

Ludwig- Maximilians- Universität München

Transdisciplinary Study „Historische Kunst- und Bilddiskurse“ with a Scholarship of the „Elite Network of Bavaria“

Degree: Master of Arts with Honors (1,0)
10/2005- 04/2010
Friedrich- Schiller- University Jena and Bauhaus- University Weimar Study of Philosophy and Fine Arts (Staatsexamen)



Visiting Research Fellow at Brown University Providence, Prof. Paul Guyer

04/2015 - 07/2015

Fellowship at „Interdisziplinären Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung Halle/ Saale“

05/2014 - 06/2014
Associate Fellow at „Kunsthistorisches Institut - Max-Planck-Institut“ Florence (IT) 09/2013 - 12/2012
Visiting Scholarship at Columbia University New York
10/2013 - 06/2016
PhD - Scholarship „Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung“


General interest in History of Philosophy, especially 17th, 18th, and 19th century continental philosophy, Kant and German Idealism

Aesthetics and questions in the Philosophy of Art in relation to ethical questions, as well as questions about the emotions and human nature