Monday, February 20, 2012

Cindy Sherman at MoMA

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954) is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential artists in contemporary art. Throughout her career, she has presented a sustained, eloquent, and provocative exploration of the construction of contemporary identity and the nature of representation, drawn from the unlimited supply of images from movies, TV, magazines, the Internet, and art history. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has captured herself in a range of guises and personas which are at turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting. To create her photographs, she assumes multiple roles of photographer, model, makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, and wardrobe mistress. With an arsenal of wigs, costumes, makeup, prosthetics, and props, Sherman has deftly altered her physique and surroundings to create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from screen siren to clown to aging socialite.

Bringing together more than 170 photographs, this retrospective survey traces the artist’s career from the mid 1970s to the present. Highlighted in the exhibition are in-depth presentations of her key series, including the groundbreaking series "Untitled Film Stills" (1977–80), the black-and-white pictures that feature the artist in stereotypical female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, and European art-house films; her ornate history portraits (1989–90), in which the artist poses as aristocrats, clergymen, and milkmaids in the manner of old master paintings; and her larger-than-life society portraits (2008) that address the experience and representation of aging in the context of contemporary obsessions with youth and status. The exhibition will explore dominant themes throughout Sherman’s career, including artifice and fiction; cinema and performance; horror and the grotesque; myth, carnival, and fairy tale; and gender and class identity. Also included are Sherman’s recent photographic murals (2010), which will have their American premiere at MoMA.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #58, 1980

The exhibition opens February 26 and runs until June 11.

MoMA has produced a major publication to accompany the exhibition, obtainable now on Amazon. It weighs in at over 2 kilos, with 264 pages and is just US$37.80.

Published to accompany the first major survey of Cindy Sherman's work in the United States in nearly 15 years, this publication presents a stunning range of work from the groundbreaking artist's 35-year career. Showcasing approximately 180 photographs from the mid-1970s to the present, including new works made for the exhibition and never before published, the volume is a vivid exploration of Sherman's sustained investigation into the construction of contemporary identity and the nature of representation. The book highlights major bodies of work including her seminal Untitled Film Stills (1977-80); centerfolds (1981); history portraits (1989-90); head shots (2000-2002); and two recent series on the experience and representation of aging in the context of contemporary obsessions with youth and status. An essay by curator Eva Respini provides an overview of Sherman's career, weaving together art historical analysis and discussions of the artist's working methods, and a contribution by art historian Johanna Burton offers a critical re-examination of Sherman's work in light of her recent series. A conversation between Cindy Sherman and filmmaker John Waters provides an enlightening view into the creative process.

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