Tag Archives: Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

What is there to say about queen bee Cindy Sherman? For 30 years she has starred in all of her photographs and yet they reveal nothing about her. For they are anything but self-portraits. Rather, her collection of pictures toss a molotov cocktail through the stained-glass window of photographic truth.

We recently happened upon this rare interview with Cindy Sherman, produced by Art21. In it she reveals how dressing up in character began as a kind of performance and evolved into her earliest photographic series such as Bus Riders (1976), Untitled Film Stills (1977-80), and the untitled rear screen projections (1980).

Through her myriad of guises, metamorphosing from a busty Marilyn Monroe to a cowgirl to a forlorn clown, she examines issues about gender, identity and power. Often with the simplest of means – a camera, a wig, makeup, location, an outfit – but always freighted with self-reflexive irony, Sherman chosen heroines pursue this with overt anarchy energy presenting ambiguous but memorable characters that suggest complex social and cultural realities lived out beyond the frame. SEO Experts search engine marketing . Having developed an aesthetic and artistic language of their own, they interrogate public images, from kitsch (film stills and centerfolds) to art history (Old Masters and Surrealism) to green-screen technology and the latest advances in digital photography.

But of course that’s not the only advance she has made. Sherman’s Untitled #96 from 1981 – more commonly referred to as ‘Orange Sweater’ – passed all records for photography, and was sold for $3.89 million in Spring this year. According to Art Info, the buyer was New York dealer Philippe Segalot, and the underbidder was Per Skarstedt, also a New York dealer. Christie’s confirmed that this was a record for a photograph at auction, previously held by Andreas Gursky’s 99 Cent II Diptychon, which fetched $3.35 million in 2006. Sherman recently had another high profile sale, with her work Untitled #153, from 1985 reaching $2.7 million in late 2010. Needless to say, the price of a photograph should never be the measure of value but nobody can deny her stature and influence on the medium, the esteem with which she is held by critics and curators, and the prestigious collections that contain her work.

Below is another video, this time comprising a panel discussion on the occasion of her retrospective survey at MoMA that finished back in June. It features artists, working in a variety of mediums, as they consider Cindy Sherman’s influence on contemporary art practice. Panelists include George Condo, Kalup Linzy, Elizabeth Peyton, and Collier Schorr. It is moderated by exhibition organiser Eva Respini, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, MoMA.

Francesca Woodman Retrospective at the Guggenheim

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Exhibition Photos by David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

The first comprehensive survey of work from the extremely brief but prolific career of American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) to be shown in North America is now on view at the Guggenheim Museum (through June 13, 2012).

More than thirty years after Woodman’s suicide at the age of 22–often one of the first things people recall about the artist–the exhibition offers an occasion for the “historical reconsideration of her work and its reception.”

Over 120 vintage photographs on view were culled from her estate of 800 prints and over 10,000 negatives, which is managed by her parents. They span her early experimental responses to class assignments completed while she was still enrolled at RISD in the mid-seventies, to the large-scale blueprint studies of her Temple project from 1980. The exhibition also includes six of her recently discovered and rarely seen short videos, as well as two of her artist books.

Her black-and-white images, dark, ethereal and moody, softened and blurred through the use of a long exposure time, are remarkably coherent explorations of herself, and sometimes other women, in very particular environments.

The Times‘ Ken Johnson calls it a “borderline kitschy style, a heady mix of Victorian Gothic, Surrealism and 19th-century spirit photography,” exploring the non-documentary realm of photography in a manner reminiscent of some of her contemporaries, including Cindy Sherman.

They were taken mostly with a medium format 6×6 camera and printed at 8×10″ or smaller, adding a timeless or antique quality, and necessitating a physically intimate viewing experience.

So “strong, particular, personal and tragic,” is her work, British art dealer Anthony d’Offay, who acquired 18 of her prints from the artist’s boyfriend, says in a video interview, “that you have to confront elements of yourself which perhaps sometimes you’ve avoided.”


On Friday, May 18, 2012, the Guggenheim is hosting a symposium on “Art in the 1970s: Through the Lens of Francesca Woodman,” examining the relationship between the still and moving image in Woodman’s and other artists’ production during the 1970s, particularly as associated with Post-Minimalism, performance, and video, organized by Jennifer Blessing, Senior Curator, Photography.

Francesca Woodman is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where the exhibition was on view earlier this year. You can find a video walkthrough of that show shot on January 2, 2012 on YouTube.

Read more about Woodman’s “deeply personal photographic revelations” in critic David Levi Strauss’ Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics (Aperture 2003).

View a slideshow of images from the exhibition at Guggenheim on The New York Times website, after which you can read Ken Johnson’s review of the show.

Exhibition on view:
March 13 – June 13, 2012

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
(at 89th Street)
New York, NY 10128-0173

Cindy Sherman Retrospective

Untitled Film Still #14, 1978 © Cindy Sherman

Exhibition on view:
Present–June 11, 2012

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St
New York City, NY
(212) 708-9400

Cindy Sherman, a traveling exhibition of one of the most important contemporary artists, is being presented in New York City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Cindy Sherman has built an international reputation, photographing herself in a variety of semblances and personas. Her subject matter is topical, humorous, and confrontational. She holds a mirror up to contemporary society, referencing visual culture: movies, magazines, television, the internet, and art history.

The exhibition features 150 photographs from public and private collections, some over-sized and site-specific and others never-before-seen. One of the highlights is her black-and-white body of work, Untitled Film Stills, where the artist became the stereotypical female featured in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood and film noir. An illustrated catalog accompanies the show along with a series of films that were of great artistic influence to Sherman.

The next stops for Cindy Sherman will be The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (July 14–October 7, 2012), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (November 10, 2012–February 17, 2013), and The Dallas Museum of Art (March 17, 2013–June 9, 2013).

Sherman is featured in Aperture issues 200 and 169. Her photographs can also be seen in The New York Times Magazine Photographs.

Chuck Close: A Couple of Ways of Doing Something

Courtesy Market Street Productions

“While photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent,” Chuck Close says in the clip above for the “Artists & Alchemists” documentary feature, “I think it is the hardest medium in which to have a distinctive personal vision.”

Known for his unparalleled attention to detail in hyperrealist portraiture, Close explains in conveying that vision his predilection for using immensely revealing daguerreotypes, plates that capture just about the widest possible range of highlights and shadows with the use of strobe lights that capture quite literately the power of the sun.

This clip offers a bit of background on the labor intensive process that went into his series A Couple of Ways of Doing Something, on view at the Wichita Art Museum through this Sunday, April 15, 2012. The series features fifteen massive prints of the artist’s world-renowned friends (Cindy Sherman, Philip Glass, James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, to name a few) presented with microscopic intimacy, each alongside a poem by Bob Holman. The work was inspired in part by a collaborative series of lithographs done by poet/curator Frank O’Hara and artist Larry Rivers in the late 50s, as Close explains briefly in the accompanying interview from the 2006 Aperture monograph A Couple of Ways of Doing Something with Lyle Rexer, author of the Edge of Vision.

As photography moves forward becoming more widespread and accessible, in an era when the premium put on absolute originality is largely in question, sometimes reaching back for precedent can be as fruitful as rediscovering archaic technology. Or as Close puts it, “In 1840 virtually everything I love about photography was already there.”

Chuck Close: A Couple of Ways of Doing Something
Through Sunday, April 15, 2012
$7 adults, $5 seniors, and FREE for children

Wichita Art Museum
1400 West Museum Boulevard
Wichita, Kansas
(316) 268-4980


Katie Shapiro

Spring is in the air and Katie Shapiro has lept into April taking no prisioners. Her work seems to be everywhere this month with exhibitions including, In Proximity, curated by Miles Coolidge, at the Ann Gallery running through April 28th, she is on the walls at the Photography Now 2012 Exhibition jurored by Natasha Egan at The Center for Photography at Woodstock, and is part of an exhibition that kicks off MOPLA (The Month of Photography in Los Angeles), Pro’jekt LA (Part1): Progress and Regress. LPV Magazine featured her work in Issue #2, and an interview accompanies the work.

from Apart/Together

Katie lives and works in Los Angeles. She received a BFA in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts and her work investigates the territories that surround her, always inspired by what is held deep within her subjects. Katie recently shared a new project (Pilgrimage) with me, and needless to say, I’m a big fan. The simplicity of the concept of is smart and perfectly executed.

From Portraits

In Pilgrimage, I employ the codes of performance-based self-portraiture to depict myself and my partner, a native Texan, in National Parks from the Channel Islands to Big Bend. We become progressively more cowboy-like as we approach Texas. I have staged these double portraits in U.S. National Parks in an effort to bring an often idealized and taken-for-granted history into the present. The New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s great social welfare program, included expansion of the National Parks systems through the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the Parks offer the classic American sanctuary, but with the looming threat of closures and budgetary cuts, they also evidence a country in distress. Taking cues from sources as varied as Cindy Sherman’s film stills and Ansel Adams’ exploration of the West, my work seeks a synthesis of nature and culture, tempering deeply felt emotions with self-conscious irony.



Photographs by Jen Davis, Essay by Hannah Frieser

Flak Photo is proud to feature this gallery in support of Light Work's Looking and Looking, a two-person exhibition featuring photographs from Amy Elkins and Jen Davis. That project explored the dialogue between these artists regarding identity, body image, and the male and female gaze. The following essay accompanies Davis' photos in Contact Sheet 165, a catalog produced for the exhibition. For more information and to order a copy for your personal collection, visit LightWork.org.


It is not unusual for artists, including photographers, to turn to self-portraits occasionally. Photographers such as Cindy Sherman have built their career on the practice. When Jen Davis started her photographic series Self-Portraits ten years ago, the images struck a public nerve. The photographs were immediately memorable for their sophisticated style as well as for their distinct subject matter, as Davis bared her struggles with the emotional and physical impact of her weight. Her unusual honesty and vulnerability combined with her understanding for careful composition and delicate lighting invited the viewer into her life beyond normal boundaries of privacy.

One of the most iconic images of her early work is the frequently published photograph Pressure Point, which depicts Davis at the beach looking a little lost in a sea of slimmer bodies. As is common in her images, this photograph communicates a real emotion connected to a place or an action, making it easy to sympathize with her situation. From image to image we see Davis in different scenarios engaging in a world that sets her apart from others.

The title of the series makes it clear that Davis is photographing herself, but the viewer has to discern for themselves the authenticity of the images. These are not documentary images photographed at the actual time a situation originally occurred, but each photograph borrows heavily from real moments and showcases very real feelings. Her earlier images are closer to real moments in their depiction of the awkwardness, shyness, or frustration of a woman with a plus-sized body. They show situations that especially women can easily relate to as universal struggles with body image. Her identity struggles are not so different from many young women who find themselves judged by a male gaze as their bodies blossom into maturity. Yet rather than push back against this gaze, Davis turns to quiet self-examination.

The fact that these images are self-portraits alters the way they should be understood. Davis is not being watched and judged by these images, and instead is shaping each scenario both as the author and the subject. While she has little control on how society sees her in daily life, she has unlimited control of how she decides to photograph and present herself. It is her active choice to use a frank and self-inquisitive style in photography to examine concepts of beauty, desire, and body image. “Photography is the medium that I use to tell my story through life,” Davis writes in her artist statement. It is “an outlet for revealing my thoughts and opinions about the society in which we live. A society that dictates beauty based on one’s physical appearance.”

The level of creative freedom that Davis allows herself has gradually expanded over the years. She began the series trying out familiar scenarios in front of the camera until she could better understand her feelings about them. Since then, self-examination has shifted to self-assertion and finally to self-expression. She is no longer that young student searching to find her place and define her identity, but a woman who claims her right to be included in our understanding of beauty.

In a pivotal moment in 2004, she started manufacturing scenarios for the camera based on situations she could potentially find herself in. This lead to the photograph Fantasy No. 1, and later to other constructed realities, such as Steve and I. From there she has started to work desire and sensuality into more images, leading also to the separate photographic series Webcam and I Ask in Exchange.

Davis still uses the camera as a tool to help her understand the world around her. A decade into this project, she finds that her body is changing. As in the past, she continues to photograph through every new circumstance and allows the camera to make sense of it all.

Aperture’s Week in Review: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • LensBlog explores why Rodrigo Abd‘s photograph of a young Syrian boy expressing grief over the death of his father landed on the front page of three of the most prominent national papers in the United States.


Happy Birthday, LightBox: A Year of Great Photography

In its first year, TIME’s photography blog, LightBox, has published well over 500 posts—an average of ten a week. We hope that the strength of LightBox has not only been evident in the quality of the work but also in the variety of photography showcased.

The site’s intent was established from the first post, a multimedia piece about Eugene Richards’ eloquent and moving War is Personal. Original essays by TIME’s contract photographers, most notably James Nachtwey in Japan and Yuri Kozyrev in Libya, set the bar for LightBox in its first weeks—and for photojournalism in general—in an unprecedented year of extraordinary consequence.

Alongside the work of art world luminaries including Rineke Dijkstra and Cindy Sherman was an essay on poverty by Joakim Eskildsen, which continued the tradition of publishing original work, commissioned for TIME, on the site. The eclectic mix of photography published on LightBox has ranged from rediscovered buried treasures (like the work of Joseph Szabo and Stephane Sednaoui) to stories supporting the work of young photographers, through pieces on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund and profiles of photographers like Justin Maxon and Krisanne Johnson, as well the Next Generation photo contest. Alongside the work of professionals both young and old, there was work by amateur practitioners—an astronaut photographer, an accountant photographer of the homeless and the wonderful photographic memories of 1960s pre-Gaddafi Libya by Jehad Nga’s father. There have been the crowd-pleasing, unpublished photos of Johnny Cash and creative galleries edited from the wires, including Two Takes and Surprising Photos. And, of course, there was the daunting undertaking of 365: A Year in Photographs.

In the gallery above, some of TIME’s photo editors reflect on a year of tremendous images and recommend posts that are worth a second look. We’ll also be highlighting selections from more of the staff behind LightBox throughout the day on our Tumblr blog. We welcome suggestions from our readers as well, either in the comments below or on Twitter.

From all of us at LightBox, thanks for being a part of our beginning—and here’s to another year of great photography!