Today is the birthday of conceptual portrait photographer and film director Cindy Sherman. Sherman was born in New Jersey USA 1954. She received the MacArthur award in 1995 and currently lives and works in New York. She studied visual art at Buffalo State college, abandoning painting for photography.
“I didn’t want to make ‘high’ art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”
Although a lot Sherman’s work involve the use of stereotyping women in advertising, media and film, she does not stereotype her work, she does say this about her work:-
“The work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff.”
Her work involves taking series of photographs of herself in costume. For example in 2003 her series consisted of photographs of herself as clown. In 1981 an early series ‘Centrefolds’ considered women’s roles in film magazine and television;-
“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”
Sherman’s narrative work always has dark or sad undertones within it. She always maintains that her photographs are not self portraits, even though the pictures are all of herself. Sherman always plays a ‘type’ – a fictional type;- a housewife, socialite, – B movie actresses. She both hides herself within her work, yet reveals herself at the same time. It is a game of hide and seek where she sometimes disappears:-
“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear”
Her work is both thought-provoking and evocative. As well as directing and modeling, she has also collaborated on advertisements with designer Marc Jacobs and designed album covers for the band American Babes in Toyland.
If I knew what the picture was going to be like I wouldn’t make it. It was almost like it was made already.. the challenge is more about trying to make what you can’t think of.”
Information about Sherman and her work can be found here and on her website here
images are from here, here here and here
video by innertubevideo with thanks!
Also born on this day Paul Cezannne – read my post here
6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Cindy Sherman!”
The idea of being the “star'” in her own work? Who does not aspire to that? These women could be anyone and I don’t think it gives us, as women any role to fit into as we all create who and what we are. That is what I see her doing. Thanks for this interesting post.
I don’t think the idea is to be the star of her own work at all Leslie and I don’t think we as women always choose the role we ‘fit’ into and that is the point of her work. All art including conceptual art, where the idea is the key factor, interests me and I shall be putting more on my blog as well as abstract work. I realise I can’t please everybody, but I must be true to myself 🙂 Glad you found the post interesting and your comment and opinion is always appreciated 🙂
Perhaps I don’t word myself correctly. I know it was not the intent of the artist to be a “star” but anyone who acts out a part in any drama is the “star”. The other part of what I said is that we only play those roles if we think we do. Someone else’s perception.
Point taken Leslie, but ‘star’s are only ordinary people, it’s others which elevate them. They are only playing a role, acting out a part – there’s a real person in there and that’s what the artist is trying to show – a dichotomy of what we see and what we don’t see real/unreal.
I will confess that I’m not a huge fan of Cindy Sherman’s art. Her work became the very thing she says she’s against which is art as commodity. And as a man, I don’t completely buy into this view of woman as victim either. What ever happened to free will?
Free will? Even women buy into stereotyping whilst crying ‘freedom’. For example having the ‘right’ and the ‘choice’ of filling perfectly healthy breasts with silicone. Then choosing to exploit these – for men. Very liberated…… but their ‘choice’ I suppose. Victim or Victor? Double edged sword. To each his/her own I say 🙂