Women Artists and the Female Form
"The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told."
Cindy Sherman is an American born artist (b.1954) who grew up in Long Island. Her family was not particularly involved with the arts, so she developed her interest in the arts during her college days. She began with painting, but felt frustrated with its limitations and decided to pursue photography. She is one of the most esteemed photographers of the late twentieth century. Her work spans from the 1970s as a student in Buffalo to present day. Sherman portrays many facets and personas of the female identity throughout her photographs. With the exception of a few series in the 1980’s and 1990’s which featured disturbing and visceral images of doll parts, organic material, and human fluids, she is the sole subject of her photographs, which is fascinating in itself as it eliminates the usual chemistry depicted in and between the artist and subject. With her extensive and skilled use of wigs, prosthetics, makeup, costumes, and digital editing, she transforms herself into a myriad of personas and identities. “For Sherman the camera is a tool with which to explore the condition of representation and the myth that the photograph is an index of reality” (Slatkin page 266).
Sherman has enjoyed critical as well as financial success as an artist, with her work commanding high prices. In 1996 the Museum of Modern Art in New York purchased a complete series from her for one million dollars. In 1999, the average price of one of her photographs was $20,000 to $50,000 and one of her photographs from the series Film Stills fetched a cool $190,000 from a Christie’s auction. In 2011 Sherman’s 1981 portrait sold at a Christie’s auction for $3,890,500, breaking the record for highest price paid for a photograph in the world. She’s exhibited worldwide and continues to grow in popularity.
Eva Respini, Associate Curator, and Lucy Gallun, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, organized Sherman’s exhibition which was at MoMA February 26-June 11, 2012. The exhibition was not on the Photography Floor, but on the sixth floor, which is dedicated to special exhibitions. After leaving MoMA in June, the exhibition then traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, then the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and finally at the Dallas Museum of Art.
It appears Respini’s goal was to provide a retrospective into Cindy Sherman’s 38 year long career and to showcase some of her most famous series. The concept of her development as an artist and what themes she utilizes in her work was addressed as well. On the sixth floor of MoMA, the Special Exhibitions floor, Sherman’s exhibition features over 170 photographs organized into eleven galleries and one large scale photographic mural as the beginning. The mural is eighteen feet high, and touches floor to ceiling. Five of the eleven...