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Cindy Sherman Hardcover – February 29, 2012
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A more than 30-year survey of Sherman's roles in front of the camera (movie star, housewife, aristocrat) and behind it (photographer, art director, stylist). (American Photo)
This overview is the most comprehensive to date because it clearly documents transformations in [Cindy Sherman's] well-known serial self-portraiture. Sherman is celebrated as the quintessential conceptual artist who uses photography. In an essay, exhibition curator Respini describes Sherman as an artist who fully represents today's prevalent "culture of the cultivated self." More adeptly than past writers, Respini firmly situates Sherman among contemporaries like Eleanor Antin, Hannah Wilke, Suzy Lake, and Adrian Piper...Highly recommended. (M. R. Vendryes Choice)
Eva Respini, the curator of the MoMA exhibition and the museum's curator of photography, begins her catalogue essay with some of the misreadings that have dogged Sherman's work, and lists the sucessive waves of critical theories that have claimed the artist as their own, including "postmodernism, feminism, psychoanalytic theories of the male gaze and the culture of the spectacle". (Liz Jobey The Art Newspaper)
Cindy Sherman has explored different kinds of photography, but she has become one of the most lauded artists of her generation for her photographs of her impersonations. Since she arrived on the scene, in a 1980 exhibition, when she was in her mid-twenties, she has come before her own camera in the guise of hundreds of characters, and as an impersonator--which in her case means being a creator of people, and sometimes people-like creatures, who we encounter only in a single photograph--she has been remarkably inventive. (Sanford Schwartz The New York Review of Books)
No feature of a Sherman image is there by accident or as a matter of convenience. These grand backdrops are legacy monuments of the older plutocracy, left as a democratic inheritance, belittling the imagination and attainments of the present-day .01 percent. As her own works have come to count among the prized trophies of that demographic, Sherman seeds into these images a grandeur belonging to a past that no private individual can now claim or master. (Thomas Crow Artforum)
Ever since her student efforts in the 1970s, she has been exploring the complex territory of constructing a self for the camera - a focus that placed her squarely at the forefront of postmodern theory. Nevertheless, it is still surprising to see the great variety of work she has produced from this single-minded inquiry. Her landmark achievement, "Untitled Film Stills," created between 1977 and 1980, surveys the history of women in cinema, using little more than makeup and wigs. (Barbara Pollack ARTnews)
At many points throughout this dense, often exciting show .… we are confronted by an artist with an urgent, singularly personal vision, who for the past 35 years has consistently and provocatively turned photography against itself. She comes across here as an increasingly vehement avenging angel waging a kind of war with the camera, using it to expose what might be called both the tyranny and the inner lives of images, especially the images of women that bombard and shape all of us at every turn.
Although not one of her images qualifies, exactly, as a self-portrait, the Modern's show is above all an inspiring portrait of the artist ceaselessly at work, striving never to repeat herself, always trying to go deeper and further in one direction or another. Her self - remorseless, generous, imaginative and shrewd - is everywhere. (Roberta Smith The New York Times)
Coming into the art world of the seventies, she found more bad fathers: In MoMA's excellent catalogue she speaks to John Waters about being "disgusted … with the art world … the boy artists, the boy painters." (Jerry Saltz New York Magazine)
About the Author
Cindy Sherman is a ground-breaking American photographer, born in 1954. She began her "Film Stills" series at the age of 23, gaining early recognition, and has followed it with remarkable experiments in color photography. Her art has won her wide recognition and praise, and been collected and exhibited by major museums throughout the world since 1980. A major retrospective exhibition of her work was shown at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Dallas Museum of Art. Sherman is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. She is represented by Metro Pictures gallery in New York.
Eva Respini is a former Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York where she contributed to numerous publications including Robert Heinecken: Object Matter (2014); Cindy Sherman (2012); and Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West (2009); Fashioning Fiction in Photography since 1990 (2004).
John Waters is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, and visual artist best known for his cult films, including "Hairspray", "Pink Flamingos", and "Cecil B. DeMented". He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Johanna Burton has served as the director of the graduate program at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.