The name Cindy Sherman has become ubiquitous with contemporary photography, with a prolific career spanning more than thirty years that has included major solo and group exhibitions at institutions like the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. On February 26, one of the largest retrospectives of Sherman’s career opens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, with more than 180 photographs that span the entirety of her career. Sherman has manipulated and extended the medium of photography to such a dizzying degree over her career, that it can be difficult to neatly categorize her oeuvre, but Roberta Smith in The New York Times review of the retrospective concisely outlined Sherman’s work as having “consistently and provocatively turned photography against itself.”
The majority of Sherman’s work is self-portraiture, where she dramatically alters her appearance through costume, makeup, and pose; often drawing on iconic film imagery or individuals, like her famous impersonation of Marilyn Monroe. During her career, starting primarily with her now iconic series Untitled Film Stills, Sherman has embodied, distorted and broken down a myriad of female stereotypes from a diverse selection of cultural references. In the “performance” of stereotypes present in her images, Sherman often seems to relish in ambiguity; often presenting seemingly “easy” or “safe” portrayals of femininity in which something is off, which confronts the viewer with a distorted representation of hyper-saturated stereotypes.
Sherman’s massive retrospective will stay at MoMA until June, before starting a national tour that will take the exhibition to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Paddle8 members can view available works by Sherman’s long-time dealer, Metro Pictures, on Paddle8.com