Cindy Sherman

2/8/12 – Who is Cindy Sherman?

Cindy Sherman has exhibited many of her photographs in galleries and contemporary art spaces across the world. According to Eva Respini, John Waters and Johanna Burton, Sherman is a photographer who uses her self as the model for many of her own shots, which replicate different personalities or personas. Sherman is an individual artist who takes photographs of herself wearing different costumes or outfits in various locations and settings. Respini, Waters and Burton argue that the works of Cindy Sherman relate to the representation of self-image or identity within the mass media.

Sherman’s characters or personas have been influenced by popular culture and digital media, which may question one’s own presence within the urban environment. Sherman’s work may question what is real and what is fake within the contemporary visual culture, which is heavily engrossed with commercialism or mass consumption. (Respini, Waters, Burton, 2012 p. 11 – 14)

Sherman also works with different genres and styles, which feature morbid or ‘grotesque’ imagery. Sherman’s photography often displays clowns or life-sized dolls, which also feature a disturbing and a frightening appearance. One could argue that Sherman creates a unique perspective of her subjects through the angle of the camera, the props and the style of makeup, which establishes a very creative composition.

The reason why I am investigating the works of Cindy Sherman is to determine different styles, genres or compositions, which may provide other ideas for the actual project. I am also using myself as the subject and I am experimenting with different makeup styles in order to create different identities or appearances in relation to the image of the skull in contemporary art. Research into Sherman;s technique, method and style will also assist with the theoretical components of the research.

Cindy Sherman: Fitcher’s Bird 1992

Casie Hermansson explains that Cindy Sherman has created an art book, which displays the artists work within a creative manner. Sherman explores the representation of women within the visual culture through different characters or separate identities.

Hermansson also believes that Sherman’s photography constructs a ‘narrative’ or a ‘storyboard’, which engages with the viewer through the use of props, outfits or costumes. One could argue that Sherman’s work depicts women for different cultures or social backgrounds, which are commonly stereotyped within the contemporary culture and visual media.

Hermansson also mentions one of Sherman’s photographs, which features a skull that is adorned with flowers and jewels. One may relate Sherman’s depiction of the skull with the Vanitas paintings. (Hermansson, 2009 p.167) Faye Dowling also explains that the Vanitas paintings is a traditional European style, which questions life and death through the image of the skull. The skull was used for still life painting, which was also composed with other subjects such as flowers, vases, ornaments and clocks. (Dowling 2011 p.7 – 13)

One could argue that the composition between the floral headdress and the metal jewellery actually creates a dark or a sinister effect. The dark undertones and the background actually adds to this particular effect. Maria Tatar on the other hand, explains that the skull has become a subject ‘beauty’ through the composition between the flowers and the metal jewellery.

According to Tatar, Sherman’s image also creates a composition between life and death, which how questions the depiction of the skull within the visual culture. (Tatar 2004 p. 122)

Respini, Eva, Waters, John & Burton, Johanna. Cindy Sherman.  New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2012 p. 11 – 14

Hermansson, Casie. Bluebeard: A Reader’s Guide to the English Tradition.  Mississippi University Press of Mississippi, 2009. p.167

Dowling, Faye. The Book of Skulls. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011 p. 7 – 13

Tatar, Maria. Secrets Beyond the Door: The Stroy of Bluebeard and His Wives.  New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Image Citations:

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