As the artistic phenomenon known as Todd Guberman sadly leaves the world of social media self portraiture behind, he’s left an indelible mark on our newsfeeds over the years. Let us take a brief look back at some of his most monumental works, before he deletes his Facebook and takes his priceless collection of profile pictures with him. Let it be known: An artist of Todd’s caliber is quitting Facebook due to “this lame new Facebook layout,” and Zuckerberg’s graphic design department should be ashamed.
Though not his first work, “Grand Canyon vaca” was one of Todd’s first to garner critical acclaim, with 49 likes within just a few hours (as well as review comments giving highly positive reviews). “Grand Canyon vaca” features Todd gazing off-camera and into the vast depths of the Grand Canyon. The piece mimics traditional Renaissance landscapes, speaking to man’s inherent desire to conquer his environment and the sheer immensity of the Earth from the human perspective. Plus, it shows off how super tan Todd got that summer.
Fellow portraiture artist Maddy Sher went so far as to call the piece “beast” in the comments (and Sher is straight killing it on Instagram lately, btw ).
Though never officially titled, nor awarded any high honors (with only 21 likes since its posting), [Untitled] has nevertheless gained an immense cult following in the years since. “This is a great photo of you,” said noted art reviewer and long-time Todd’s aunt, Mary Gilligan. Initially, the work was met with intense criticism when it was revealed that long-time friend, collaborator, and on-again-off-again girlfriend Kylie Madison was cropped from the piece.
But what great work is without controversy?
The portrait features Todd, smiling at the viewer, one arm outstretched beyond the frame. Brown hair (presumably Kylie’s) is just barely visible at the frame’s edge. Looking at the work, one feels a sense of isolation and separation, but one that always feels purposeful and intentional. It is a choice all artists must make: To wall themselves off in pursuit of their passion. Plus, he and Kylie weren’t dating at the time, so what’s a guy to do?
Kylie, who maintains that Todd’s repurposing of the piece was “super lame, dude,” did not respond to our requests for an interview. Although Facebook messenger indicated that she totally saw it.
A celebration of life and love itself, “Congrats JT and Emily” is Todd’s most popular by far. Gathering 137 likes from all across Todd’s social circles, the piece’s popular appeal should not distract from its intrinsic artistic merit. The image of Todd holding a drink at JT and Emily’s wedding evokes traditional Grecian depictions of a bacchanalia, but updates the iconography for the modern day.
Some have called the work derivative, noting its similarities to previous pieces, such as “So prom was fun” (2010) and “Finally graduated!” (2011). Here though, Todd has truly mastered his craft, communicating the universality and eternal nature of the human capacity for joy and also for totally demolishing an open bar . One cannot help but feel uplifted gazing upon it, whether looking at it specifically or just kind of absentmindedly scrolling through your newsfeed. He also looks pretty good in his suit, a fact he did not hesitate to point out in the comments numerous times.
Considered by many to be the height of Todd’s experimental period, “Casual selfie” takes many of the techniques Todd built upon during this period and perfects them. Other works, such as a pop art appropriation of Dragon Ball Z’s Son Goku and a super-cute portrayal of Todd’s cat Tabby, gained critical approval for their satirical style, but failed to connect with a wider audience. “Casual selfie,” however, featuring Todd’s celebrity look-alike and magician David Blaine, propelled Todd into the annals of art history.
Awarded upwards of 100 likes, “Casual selfie” not only retains Todd’s subversion of the form but uses it to a thematic end. Self-portraiture attempts to capture the true self, but who are we really, when we can be so easily mistaken for another? And in the midst of this identity crisis, what is celebrity? Nothing more than a trick your eyes play—an illusion—but it feels like magic, nonetheless. Many noted the subtleties of the piece, commenting that “woah dude, i thought this was you at first, haha” and “It’s impossible to tell when it’s just a thumbnail, lololololol.” Though tagged repeatedly in the comments section, David Blaine’s official Facebook page has yet to weigh in on this modern masterpiece.
If you’d like to experience Todd’s forthcoming experimentation with the nature of transience, be sure to attend his showings by following him on TikTok at todd420yall. The piece currently on display, entitled “what up,” borrows from the Surrealists and toys playfully with the uncanny: Through the application of a Snapchat filter, Todd made his face look totally weird and scrunched up (early reviews look positive, including multiple replays and even a screenshot or two). Though his Facebook is gone, it looks like we’ll continue to enjoy Todd’s works (sent directly to our phones in the middle of the night for no discernable reason) for many years to come.