From top left: “I know a lot of people in the entertainment business.” Untitled #474. 2008. Chromogenic color print, 7’ 6 3/4” x 60”(230.5 x 152.4 cm). “On her first trip to the big city, our heroine suspects she is being followed.” Untitled Film Still #21. 1978. Gelatin silver print, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2”(19.1 x 24.1 cm). “Will I ever find true love?” An image from Sherman’s centerfold series. Untitled #96. 1981. Chromogenic color print, 24 x 47 15/16 (61 x 121.9 cm). high fashion itself. One photo shows four young women (all Cindy Sherman, of course) at what could be a party for a gallery opening or fashion show. Identically dressed and holding red plastic drink cups, they display a sort of forced gaiety, with toothy smiles and expressions of excitement. The photo was commissioned by Vogue Paris, and Sherman wears a Balenciaga dress. We are free to think what we want, but it seems that Sherman is critiquing the fashion scene and the red carpet mentality it fosters. In another picture, we see a wealthy, middle-aged woman in a sequined couture dress. She has on tasteful gold jewelry and stands in front of a display of what might be celebrity publicity shots. Perhaps the pictures are of an earlier generation, but this woman is a survivor. She is confident, comfortable and famous. And she is Cindy Sherman. This exhibition travels to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (July 14 to Oct. 7, 2012), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Nov. 10, 2012 to Feb. 17, 2013) and Dallas Museum of Art (March 17 to June 9, 2013).
THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK. © 2012 CINDY SHERMAN.
languidly into the distance. The character clutches a newspaper clipping that has advertisements for “singles,” suggesting a failed romance. The pose, perhaps based loosely on a Playboy spread, makes us ask whether a clothed woman is not more interesting by far than a naked one. In Sherman’s photos, the body parts are hidden but her characters’ souls are exposed. In the late-’80s, Sherman posed herself in the guise of famous portraits from art history. In elaborate costumes, she is a nursing Renaissance Madonna or a bald (male) Italian aristocrat. She seems to suggest that photography is a serious rival to the art of painting. Sherman is not a narcissist, concerned only with her own image. She started photographing herself simply because no model was willing to sit for the six hours she needs to make a single picture. Sherman performs every role herself: model, wardrober, hairdresser, photographer, a fact that helps make sense of the varied disguises in the pictures. Perhaps Sherman is commenting on the different roles we all play as we live our lives: worker, daughter, mother and so forth. In each role we behave—and appear—differently. trip through this exhibit also shows the way the science of photography has evolved over recent decades. In the ’70s, Sherman took 23 small pictures of herself against a white curtain in the style of a photo booth. In them, she progressively changes from a woman with glasses (we would guess Sherman as herself) to a Geisha, and finally a film star. These are simple black-and-white photos made from contact prints. In her recent “society” portraits, Sherman poses in front of a green screen so that she can later fill in whatever background she wants (in several cases, The Cloisters museum in New York). She also uses Photoshop to move her eyes closer together, to make herself look older, or to appear heavier. Sherman has mastered the modern techniques and one suspects she will continue to use all the latest special effects. A key to understanding Sherman’s relationship to fashion is buried in a side room in the middle of her MoMA show. A stop-action movie she made in the ‘70s shows Sherman as a cut-out paper doll in her underwear. The doll selects paper clothes to try on, and admires herself. Essentially, this is Sherman playing dress-up, something she has done with great success for the last 35 years. More recently, Sherman seems to have been examining the world of
The Magazine of Life's Celebrations!