Cindy Sherman invents personas and tableaus that examine the construction of identity, the nature of representation and the artifice of photography. She assumes multiple roles of photographer, model, makeup artist, hairdresser and stylist. Whether portraying a career girl, a blonde bombshell, a fashion victim, a clown or a society lady of a certain age- she has created a provocative body of work that resonates deeply in our visual culture.
I went to her exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, and it was fascinating. It is so widely creative that it completely stretched the boundaries of my own creativity. I like that. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it. For starters, it would be fun to watch her observe others, because clearly, she doesn’t miss a thing. The level of detail is unbelievable. Some of these photos are horrifically hilarious. She can express her views through a single photograph… something I don’t think I have ever seen. She can look like a man, look like an older woman, look like a dead person even. How does she think of these things?!
She views fashion as a daily form of masquerade that communicates culture, gender, and class. Fashion has been a constant source of inspiration for Sherman and a leading ingredient in the creation of her work.
Above are a few selections from the 2008 society portraits series, a hat tip to financial collapse of 2008, the end of an era of opulence. These images are huge and magnificent, and the viewer can’t help but walk right up to them for a closer inspection. They are perfectly visible from across a large room, but a closer look reveals not so pretty details. They seem at once tragic and vulgar. The figures are not based on specific women (yeah right…) but the artist has made them look entirely familiar in their struggle with the impossible standards of beauty that prevail in a youth and status obsessed culture.
The psychological weight of these pictures comes through the unrelenting honesty of their description of aging, the tell-tale signs of cosmetic alteration, and the small details that belie the characters attempts to project a polished and elegant appearance.
Cindy Sherman has set the record for the highest priced photograph sale, with a winning bid coming in at a cool 3.9 million for one photo at a Christies Auction. If you would like to read more about this incredibly talented, imaginative artist, here is her bio. All I can say is, I think I need to go see this exhibit again…