By Jason Good, published on May 7, 2013 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
1: This Is Not an Arm (Ceci n'est pas un bras)
In this image, the photographer challenges us to imagine who an arm belongs to. Its position suggests that the arm's owner might be unconscious. Is this a crime photo? In fact, there's nothing to imply the arm is attached to anyone. Is it even an arm at all? The subject's slow-developing ambiguity is what renders the piece so groundbreaking.
Why did the artist cut off his left foot in his first known self-portrait? Scholars suggest he deemed it more important to include his brother's crumpled shirt and the rug beneath—signs he had infiltrated his sibling's space. What might he be signaling? Is he ready to sleep in the same room as his brother? Or could this be the warning flare of a planned bedroom coup?
A self-portrait that appears to have been taken while falling, this work is kinetic. The viewer is left guessing at the events leading up to this moment. Some scholars speculate that seconds earlier the artist attempted to kick an iPad from his brother's hands. Others propose he was simply flailing to avoid putting on socks. Either way, he's captured raw emotion.
Many experience vertigo in the face of this image showing life from the artist's perspective. Imagine being so close to someone's thigh all day. Yet we wonder why children fuss? The work rapidly establishes this boy as the voice of his generation, a bellowing spirit around which all toddlers can rally. It includes the tips of the artist's red-stockinged feet. Red for revolution.