Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum

The Bruce Museum’s major winter exhibition features Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum, focusing on a number of key moments in the artist’s remarkable career.

The exhibition, on view January 29, 2011 – April 23, 2011, will highlight the humor, artifice, and phantasmagoric re-fashioning that has made Sherman such an important figure for contemporary art. Among the most influential artists at work today, Sherman employs images of herself to explore various personae and address issues both topical and timeless. Since Ms. Sherman’s art is well represented in local collections and sought-after worldwide, we expect this to be an exceptionally popular exhibition.

Cindy Sherman, “Untitled,” 1981. Color photograph, 24 x 48 inches, Edition of 10. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures

Although Sherman is the model for her photographs, she is essentially serving as the material for her work, as an actress in a scene. She is adamant that the photographs are not self-portraits and that they do not represent her or herself role playing. Cindy Sherman serves as her own model, as well as photographer, stylist, make-up person, allowing her to work alone in her studio. She employs herself to explore various personae and addresses topical issues of the contemporary world while examining the roles of women and the artist.

Throughout her long career, Sherman has continually appropriated and confronted numerous visual genres, including the film still, centerfold, historical portrait, and fashion photography. Sherman’s photographs imitate these representational tropes, using them to challenge images in popular culture and the mass media. Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum focuses on a number of key moments in the artist’s remarkable career.

The show opens with a selection of photographs from Sherman’s landmark series of Untitled Film Stills (1977-80). Perhaps the most well known and recognizable works of Sherman’s career, these black-and-white photographs seem to depict stills for films that never existed. In each of these photographs, Sherman places herself in the role of various female character types from B-movies and film noir. By turning the camera on herself, Sherman raises challenging and important questions about the role of women in society and the representation of cultural stereotypes.

The exhibition follows Sherman’s subsequent career through several of her major series, including the Centerfolds, Disasters and Fairy Tales, the History Portraits, Clowns, the Women from California series, and her most recent works, the Rich Women series. In each of these series, the artist continues to manipulate and reprogram her appearance to adopt multiple roles. In 1981, Sherman simultaneously imitated and challenged men’s magazine centerfolds in a series of photographs commissioned, but never used, by Artforum. These large-scale photographs adopt the saturated colors, close-cropping and overhead camera angles of the centerfold, while depicting the artist in various female roles, both familiar and unexpected.

Sherman’s later series explore an ever-expanding assortment of archetypal roles and social types. The artist’s Disasters and Fairy Tales (1985-1989) are more fantastical and grotesque than her earlier work. Sherman dons complex disguises and prostheses in these twisted fairy tales, intentionally taking on increasingly frightening and deformed personae. In the late 1980s, Sherman turned to Old Master paintings for inspiration. These History Portraits (1988-1990) depict the artist dressed as figures from famous works by Caravaggio, Raphael, and others. The Rich Women series showcases Sherman’s newest cast of characters who are immediately recognizable as belonging to the upper echelons of society. These photographs of aging speak to issues of class and presentation.

Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum is organized by the Bruce Museum and is curated by the Museum’s Adjunct Curator, Kenneth E. Silver. The exhibition will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue with contributions by Mr. Silver and Bruce Museum Executive Director Peter Sutton, as well as an interview with Linda Nochlin, pioneering feminist art historian and Lila Acheson Wallace Professor at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, who discusses Sherman’s fascinating oeuvre at length. The exhibition and its catalogue are underwritten by UBS, The Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and a Committee of Honor under the leadership of Linda and Steve Munger, Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, and Barbara Dalio. Additional support has been provided by the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund.

Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830-7157
Phone: 203.869.0376

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published.