cindy sherman embodies aging screen queens in her most personal show yet

The iconic artist is opening her first show in five years, and this time she's tackling feminine identity from a very intimate perspective.

by Hannah Ongley
04 May 2016, 5:45pm

Cindy Sherman has been turning the camera on herself for over 35 years. The legendary American artist has probably assumed as many job titles as she has constructed identities, as she plays with the inner monologues and surface pretensions of everyone from bus riders to sexy librarians to terrifying clowns. The one thing they all have in common is that none of them are actually her: the enigmatic artist is turned off anything that obvious. And while her new show — her first since 2012 — is another brilliantly gaudy display of her mad costume and makeup stills, it's also probably her most intimate yet. The now-62-year-old Sherman is tackling aged femininity from a very personal perspective. 

The latest portraits have a similar vibe to those from Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, created from 1977 through 1980. In those the artist embodies stereotypical representations of women in film as they existed in B movies and retro art-house cinema. This time Sherman looks to 1920s Old Hollywood glamor via exaggerated makeup, flamboyant costumes, and seductive poses. The garish portraits are made to look like colorized publicity photos of 40s and 50s screen queens like Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow, but they also go deeper than that, addressing the continued complexities of womenhood once women are no longer normally valued for their looks. And while Sherman has never placed much worth on the male gaze, there's little ironic commentary on the subjects this time around. Weirdly, they turn mockable outfits and bad eyebrows into a rather awesome sense of presence and power.

The works are on view at New York City's Metro Pictures from May 5 through June 11.


Text Hannah Ongley
Images courtesy of Metro Pictures

New York
Cindy Sherman
Metro Pictures