Photographer Cindy Sherman at the Tate Modern

A museum I visited in London called the Tate Modern had a series of portraits in the “States of Flux” exhibit, created by Cindy Sherman. This series stood out to me among the other pieces of art, and I thought I’d share it with all of you. This work of art is a series of portrait, black and white photographs, in which Cindy Sherman is the subject in each image. However, it seems like the subject of each image are different people. Sherman changes her makeup and facial expression in each portrait so much that each portrait looks like people of different ages and gender.

According to the “cindysherman” website, her biography says, that or a work of art to be considered a portrait, the artist must have intent to portray a specific, actual person. This can be communicated through such techniques as naming a specific person in the title of the work or creating an image in which the physical likeness leads to an emotional individuality unique to a specific person. While these criteria are not the only ways of connoting a portrait, they are just two examples of how Sherman carefully communicates to the viewer that these works are not meant to depict Cindy Sherman the person. By titling each of the photographs "Untitled", as well as numbering them, Sherman depersonalizes the images.

Wikipedia says: Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress—and, of course, model. Bus Riders (1976/2000) are a series of photographs that feature the artist as a variety of meticulously observed characters. The photographs were shot in 1976 but, like another series entitled Murder Mystery People, not printed or exhibited until 2000 and are among the artist's earliest work. Sherman uses elaborate costumes and make-up to transform her identity for each image, but is photographed in a sparse, obviously staged setting with a wooden chair standing in for the bus seat. In her landmark 69 photograph series, the Complete Untitled Film Stills, (1977–1980; although the 1997 traveling MOCA retrospective included five straight-on head shots dated 1975) Sherman appeared as B-movie, foreign film and film noir style actresses. When asked if she considers herself to be acting in her photographs, Sherman said, “I never thought I was acting. When I became involved with close-ups I needed more information in the expression. I couldn’t depend on background or atmosphere. I wanted the story to come from the face. Somehow the acting just happened.”

Although Sherman does not consider her work feminist, many of her photo-series, like the 1981 Centerfolds, call attention to the stereotyping of women in films, television and magazines. When talking about one of her centerfold pictures Cindy stated, "In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn't think of them as victims at the time... But I suppose... Obviously I'm trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation."

 

 

 

 

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