This morning, a colleague and I skipped uptown gleefully to attend the press preview for MoMA's retrospective of photographer Cindy Sherman's work. The exhibit was exhaustive in its thoroughness of Sherman's career, which spans close to four decades. There were, of course, her seminal Untitled Film Stills from the 1970s, her breakthrough Centerfolds series, her repulsive, emetic sex pictures of the 1980s, and her most recent works, the Society Portraits. It's worth noting--briefly--that Sherman never titles her works, nor her series, but over time, the've acquired their own soubriquet's via the art world--in Sherman's world, it's up to the viewer to decide the meaning--no written clues are provided, only visual.
While each room seemed to be organized thematically, and somewhat chronologically, there were breaks in formality to explore ongoing themes that affected her work. One such room was dedicated wholly to fashion, and its influence on the photographer. For those unfamiliar with her work, Sherman has crafted an entire career of self-portraiture, yet under the guises of many, many archetypes. Clothing and make-up have weighed heavily on her ouevre, where she simultaneously hides her true self in order to bring forth a blend of elusive-opaque identity and highly specific caricature, oscillating between arch camp and painfully human pretense.
Blah, blah. The real reason I wanted to send my regards to Ms. Sherman--of whom I'm a great admirer--is because she figured out how to make my dream a reality. To never stop playing dress up or dollies, to maintain the joys of suspended disbelief into adulthood. But to do so, Sherman has had to don many a costume--thrift store goodies or Paris couture have all helped fasten her alter egos. Walking through the exhibit, I was reminded that the Zelig-ess has not only become a cult figure to fashion designers, but has, in turn, embraced the worlds of fantasy they create. In fact, Sherman has collaborated with many brands, including Balenciaga (above) and Marc Jacobs (below) on different projects, thus proving that a savvy artist realizes that the bubble has popped, and that no discipline is an island.
Cindy Sherman will be shown at MoMA in New York City from February 26th to June 11th.
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