Cindy Sherman’s return as the model

Cindy ShermanUntitled, 2000(MP# CS--353)
Cindy Sherman / Untitled #353 2000 / Image courtesy: The artist and Metro Pictures, New York / © The artist

Cindy Sherman is renowned for her mastery of masquerade; her own image is at the centre of an inspiring array of character studies, developed over decades. Sherman gained international recognition in the 1970s for inhabiting female tropes found in the mass media. Widely collected since this time, her artworks can now be found in major public museums around the world. In her photographs, Sherman expands on contemporary society’s fascination with aspiration and narcissism, as well as the associated emotional fragility. In an era obsessed with self-image, Sherman’s work continues to influence generations of artists working in photography and video.

Since 2000, the artist’s return as the model is at the centre of her artworks, for which she is also the costume designer, make-up artist and, of course, photographer. These images are not self-portraits, rather, they represent the clichéd figures we might come across in our daily lives, as well as in the pages of fashion magazines, and in the world of film and television and social media. Sherman’s acute observations are at times confronting, uncanny and humorous, however, they are also empathetic. In these images, we recognise the risks we face in falling victim to social pressures, together with our own desire to project a particular image, often in spite of our better judgment.

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Installation view of ‘Cindy Sherman’, Gallery of Modern Art, 2016

Sherman has transitioned from film to digital photography. ‘Cindy Sherman’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, presents an insight into the artist’s growing confidence in using digital software to manipulate and embellish her photographs. The 56 large‑scale photographs on display, and the imposing murals at the centre of the exhibition present the artist’s perspective on the synthetic aspects of our pervasive image culture and the constructed nature of identity. Sherman creates photographs that are a piercing response to contemporary society.

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‘Cindy Sherman’ / Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) / 28 May – 3 October 2016