Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Cindy Sherman Retrospective

Sherman Murals

Although I largely talk about theater, I enjoy discussing artistic culture in all forms (except ballet--ballet can just die for all I care) and had the great pleasure of attending the opening of the Cindy Sherman show at MOMA.  Also in attendance was Eric Bogosian, a guy in a coonskin hat and kid rocking the Robert Pattinson look so hard (and frankly succeeding more than most).

Coonskin Hat. Manhattan 2012. Clearly a sign of Armageddon
It was a scene.  And not my natural habitat.  Serious fashionistas, the skinnys, the Europeans, the tragically hip, the people trying too hard, and people who of course brought their children.  It was worth it for the people-watching alone but I was really there for the art.  I had not seen much of Sherman's work since the Film Stills so seeing a retrospective that included more recent pieces was great.  For someone who has spent a lifetime focused on depictions of women in American society using herself as the model, she continues to reinvent her approach and style.  As she has aged, she has also found different characters to inhabit.  Aging at times seemed to be part of the subject matter--women trying to avoid aging with make-up and surgery and turning into grotesques.

From Centerfolds. My family TOTALLY had that linoeleum
There was one abstract series from the 80's and 90's in reaction to the AIDS epidemic depicting vomit, decay, rotting flesh.  It was mesmerizing and nauseating.  There was one where it seemed it be pile of melted flesh with eyeballs and teeth poking out--possibly made of chocolate and caramel. Hope the under 8 year old set enjoyed that.

I think my favorite was the Centerfolds series.  From disturbing to ethereal, they each had such a rich narrative back story to them.  Bringing your own assumptions to the work they spoke volumes about how we look at women and their emotions.

I think I favor her narrative works more than those that are focused on turning obvious portraiture traditions upside-down.  But her Old Masters series was impressive.  Manipulating color photography to try and recreate certain eras of painting portraiture and then adding plastic breasts and other pieces of obvious artifice to upend expectations.

A great show to check out.

From a series on Fashion

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