Cindy Sherman’s first UK exhibition since 2007 is small but memorable, curated by the artist and containing three large colour photographs made in 2008. The works continue the artist’s celebrated investigations into notions of gender, beauty and identity—Sherman filling the roles of both artist and model, as she has for the past 30 years.
The works exhibited at Sprüth Magers are both mesmerizing and disconcerting. The subjects of all three portraits are strong, aristocratic women, who tower over viewers while both rejecting the gaze and commanding the space of their gilded frames. The women are dignified and glamorous, but the artist’s obvious staging of each scene undermines their sense of merit. The digitally constructed backgrounds of the photographs are blurry, which purposefully complicates the narrative—instituting premonitions of displaced wealth and status, not matching the women’s arrogant sense of repute.
Aesthetically, the works deviate far from Sherman’s early Film Stills, whose iconic images are ingrained in the minds of every Postmodernist, but they still play with the notions of transformation and dressing up. As viewers, we know that Sherman orchestrates every aspect of her photographs—from hair and makeup to manicured nails—but still we cannot know the relationship of the women to the artist, or their relationship to each other. Each portrait is Untitled, furthering the anonymity and intrigue of Sherman and her subjects. With Sprüth Magers’ Cindy Sherman, the artist does exactly what she set out to do: deftly command her stage.
-- Ashley Vaughan
All images courtesy the artist, Metro Pictures, and Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Images from Top to Bottom:
(Cindy Sherman, Untitled #475, 2008, Farbfotografie, Color photograph, 163,8 x 147,3 cm, 64 1/2 x 58 inches, Edition 6; Cindy Sherman, Untitled #470, 2008, Farbfotografie, Color photograph, 216,5 x 147,3 cm, 82 1/4 x 58 inches, Edition 6; Cindy Sherman, Untitled #466, 2008, Farbfotografie, Color photograph, 246,1 x 162,6 cm, 96 7/8 x 64 inches, Edition 6)