As Seen On ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’: A Self-Portrait by a Real Comedian

As self-portraits go, this one is very flattering.

Larry David and Jeff Garlin in Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–24). Photo: Screen grab.

In season nine, episode four of Curb Your Enthusiasm, an award-winning HBO sitcom loosely based on the sometimes mundane, sometimes surreal daily life of showrunner and Seinfeld creator Larry David, Larry attends an art exhibition hosted by his friend, the late actor Richard Lewis. Lewis, dressed to impressed, proudly shows off a self-portrait which he says he just sold to a restaurant.

“Who’s that?” Larry asks, staring quizzically at the painting.

“What do you think a self-portrait means?” Richard responds, annoyed. “Yeah, that’s me.”

David and his friend-slash-manager Jeff Garlin burst out laughing. “That’s like you from 50 years ago,” Richard exclaims, noting the portrait’s admittedly youthful look. “Maybe you could paint me with hair.”

An elderly man standing next to his self-portrait, depicting a younger man.

Richard Lewis in Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–24). Photo: Screen grab.

Because the real-world celebrities that appear on Curb Your Enthusiasm play fictionalized versions of themselves, it can be hard to tell what’s scripted and what’s real. There is no information online to suggest that Richard Lewis was interested in painting, and although he shared a tweet showcasing his “self-portrait” to his followers with the caption “Artist: Richard Lewis,” it is unclear if this was meant as a confirmation of authorship or a reference to the plot of the episode.

Lewis’ self-portrait is not the only artwork to appear in the exhibition. Also present, elsewhere in the gallery space, are paintings in the style of abstract painter Mark Rothko. Their inclusion is deliberate, as a central conflict in the episode sees an unimpressed Larry accuse Richard, who sports a Nehru jacket, of pompousness and artistic vanity. (Richard has, after all, installed wall texts that read like: “Art is my milk of magnesia. Society is my ipecac.”)

Wall text in a gallery that reads "Richard Lewis, Into the Void, 2017... We cannot conquer Mars until we conquer the true final frontier: our minds."

Wall text from Richard Lewis’s art exhibition, “Life in Pictures,” in Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–24). Photo: Screen grab.

“Are you vying for the title of the Most Pretentious Man in the World?” Larry asks, adding he’d like Richard to explain some of his more non-representational work.

“I never showed you my paintings at home because I knew you’d just mock me and destroy me,” Richard answers, not without reason. “Do you understand any of this?” he asks Larry about the artwork in the gallery, to which Larry, of course, responds with a huffy no.

Lewis, who struck up a friendship with David when both of them were doing stand-up comedy, has been a part of Curb Your Enthusiasm since the first season aired in 2000, not long after David parted ways with the production of Seinfeld. He remained a recurring character until 2021, when he announced he was stepping away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

The show’s 12th and final season, which released shortly before Lewis’ passing in February 2024, credits him only once, for episode seven. Although Lewis does not appear in this episode in-person, a portrait of him—painted by David’s in-show girlfriend Renee, played by Garcelle Beauvais—can be seen in the background.


As Seen On explores the paintings and sculptures that have made it to the big and small screens—from a Bond villain’s heisted canvas to the Sopranos’ taste for Renaissance artworks. More than just set decor, these visual works play pivotal roles in on-screen narratives, when not stealing the show.

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