Cindy Sherman’s works are not self-portraits. Despite the fact that all her images feature one model, one photographer, and one make-up artist—all of whom are the artist herself—Sherman’s work constantly denies us access to the “real” Cindy Sherman. According to Gabriel Ritter, the DMA’s Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, “for the most part, Sherman’s works are not introspective images that yield insight into the artist’s psyche. Instead, they are carefully constructed portraits that foreground the plasticity of identity and photography itself.”
Cindy Sherman is the artist who hides in plain sight.
Following is an excerpt from “Cindy Sherman” by Andy Grundberg in Art in America, July 18, 2012:
Of course, Sherman is in her photographs, literally, or at least in the vast majority of them, but the theme of her work is often said to be one of absence: what we see is not Sherman but a repertoire of roles, each reflecting a culturally determined possibility of female identity. This is essentially what has made her a poster child for a coterie of postmodernism’s theory-driven critics.
Yet the emptying out of Sherman as an individual within her work strikes me as misguided and, given the development charted in this emotionally powerful exhibition, just plain wrong…. It has long been apparent…that Sherman’s impetus in making new pictures stems in large part from her reaction to the critical reception of the last batch, her urge to avoid being typecast both as an artist and as a woman.
The acclaimed nationally touring exhibition closes this weekend at the DMA. See the many guises of Cindy Sherman through Sunday, June 9. Below are a few images from the exhibition, from installation through today.
Jeffrey Grove is the Senior Curator of Special Projects and Research at the DMA.