New York ‘socialites’ pose in Nicholas Ghesquière’s designs for Balenciaga

Cindy ShermanUntitled, 2007 / 2008(MP# CS--459)
Cindy Sherman, United States b. 1954 / Untitled #459 2007–08 / Chromogenic colour print / 152.9 x 102.2cm / Image courtesy: The artist and Metro Pictures

Audiences currently have the rare opportunity to view a wide array of character studies constructed by renowned photographer Cindy Sherman. The exhibition focuses on Sherman’s photographs produced in the 21st Century, including a series made in collaboration with the fashion house Balenciaga.


Installation views, Cindy Sherman, GOMA 2016

Sherman has received acclaim for her ability to bridge the gap between the fashion and art worlds in her photographic work. She has collaborated with a number of reputable fashion houses. In 1994, Sherman worked with Japanese fashion house Comme des Garҫons, resulting in an ad campaign featuring Sherman wearing Rei Kawakubo’s renowned designs within eerie, other-worldly settings. In 2006, Sherman was commissioned to work with fashion photographer Juergen Teller to create images for an advertising campaign for Marc Jacobs. The portraits for the campaign feature Sherman and Teller dressed in garments designed by Marc Jacobs, posing as a number of different ordinary social types, ranging from office workers to truckers.1 The bizarre and ‘ugly’ images that Sherman has created with different fashion houses and magazines contrast with the typically beautiful pictures that are normally projected by the fashion world.

In 2007 Sherman was commissioned by French Vogue to create photographs featuring Nicholas Ghesquière’s designs for Balenciaga. These images where then reworked by the artist for the photographic series ‘Balenciaga’ 2007-08. New York socialites, all portrayed by Sherman, pose against digitally inserted blurry night club backgrounds. Despite the designer clothes and trendy setting, the images stand in opposition to the carefully styled shoots that you would typically encounter when reading a high-end fashion magazine. This can be attributed to the garish facial expressions of the characters which distract our focus from the clothes that they are wearing.

Cindy Sherman, United States b. 1954 / Untitled #462 2007–08 / Chromogenic colour print / 158.6 x 177.8 cm / Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery /© The artist

These artworks resemble paparazzi shots, emphasising the narcissistic nature of the world these characters occupy. In Untitled #462, two fashionista’s wearing designer clothes and heavy makeup are pictured posing in a night club in Tribeca, SoHo or some other lively part of Manhattan. Despite the glitz and the glamour of the clothes and the setting, there is a comedic aspect to these works. The middle-aged women are desperately trying to look like they are in the prime of their life and having a good time. Much like the actors in Sherman’s ‘head shots’ 2000-02 series, the women in ‘Balenciaga’ desire the unattainable – to appear younger and cooler. They are relying on make-up, plastic surgery and youthful clothing to transport them back to their twenties. This is typified in Untitled #461, in which Sherman wearing a blond wig, a low cut shirt embellished with green frills, and a pout is set against a vibrant background of overlapping glaring coloured lights, reminiscent of a dance floor. Try as they might, the women in this series cannot escape the reality of middle age, which is has already encroached upon them.

1  Horyn, Cathy, “When Is a Fashion Ad Not a Fashion Ad?”, The New York Times, April 10, 2008, (accessed April 14, 2016).

Cindy ShermanUntitled, 2007 / 2008(MP# CS--461)
Cindy Sherman, United States b. 1954 / Untitled #461 2007–08 / Chromogenic colour print / 154.3 x 122.6cm / Image courtesy: The artist and Metro Pictures

‘Cindy Sherman’ | Until 3 October 2016 | Ticketed
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Further Information

Cindy Sherman Up Late | Ticketed
5.30pm – 10.00pm | Fridays 1 July; 9, 16, 23, 30 September
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Sundays with Cindy
28 August | 25 September

GOMA Talks Cindy Sherman | Free
6.30pm Thursday 21 and 28 July
Join us for discussions on contemporary feminism.

‘In Character’ Cinema Program | Until 28 August 2016 | Ticketed
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