In New York a major exhibition on Cindy Sherman at Hauser & Wirth with more than 100 works

From May 4 to July 29, 2022, the New York branch of Hauser & Wirth Gallery is hosting a major retrospective on Cindy Sherman that examines her earliest and most groundbreaking work, executed between 1977 and 1982.

A major exhibition on Cindy Sherman (Glen Ridge, 1954), a revolutionary U.S. photographer, is on view at Hauser & Wirth in New York from May 4 to July 29, 2022. Especially with her early work, Cindy Sherman revolutionized the role of the camera in artistic practice and opened doors for generations of artists and critics by rethinking photography as an artistic medium. The exhibition, entitled Cindy Sherman. 1977 - 1982, will present more than one hundred works from the photographer’s most revolutionary and influential early series, including complete sets of , Rear Screen Projections Centerfolds, in her first major solo exhibition with the gallery.

Accustomed to working alone, Sherman was not only a photographer but also a makeup artist, hairstylist, stylist and director. Inspired by representations of women in television, film, and advertising, her characters explored a range of female stereotypes (the femme fatale, the career girl, the housewife, and so on) to address the nature of identity and representation in the media in a way that remains striking and relevant to this day. Created over forty years ago, these powerful and enigmatic works are considered milestones in photography and contemporary art history.

Sherman began creating her Untitled Film Stills in the fall of 1977 soon after moving to New York City at the age of twenty-three. This iconic series of black-and-white photographs was originally conceived as a group of still images of films from the career of a single actress. What began as an experiment on a narrative that did not involve other people would evolve into seventy works over the next three years. Inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films, Sherman’s plethora of invented characters and scenarios mimicked the style of footage used by studios to advertise their films. The images are evocative of certain types of characters and genres, but always intentionally ambiguous, leaving room for the viewer to insert themselves into the work and walk away with their own interpretations. The entire set of Untitled Film Stills will be presented together in this exhibition for the first time since his photographs were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the artist’s retrospective exhibition in 2012.

Sherman stopped making the Untitled Film St ills (moreover, the only series Sherman officially titled) in 1980 and began working with color. She then continued to use herself as a model, transforming her appearance with various costumes, makeup and wigs, leaving the narrative of her scenes deliberately vague. However, instead of using existing light and locations, Sherman returned her work to the controlled environment of her studio, posing in front of locations projected on a large screen (a technique made famous in many Alfred Hitchcock films) to create the series now known as Rear Screen Projections. Unlike Untitled Film Stills, with their artificial narratives set in real locations, this series features women no longer constrained by the physical environment.

Around the same time she was making Rear Screen Projections, Sherman was commissioned to create new images for Artforum magazine. Continuing her exploration of the tension between artifice and identity in consumer culture, she responded with a series that clearly referenced the erotic images commonly found in men’s magazines of the time. Reversing the dynamic of the male photographer and the female pin-up assuming both roles, Sherman subverted the genre by replacing the traditional nude woman with fully clothed female subjects reclining in emotionally suggestive but ambivalently distanced poses. The photographs were eventually never published by the magazine for fear of public backlash and instead became a critically acclaimed series of 12 large-scale horizontal color works known as Centerfolds.

Born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Cindy Sherman lives and works in New York City,. Her pioneering work has addressed issues of representation and identity in contemporary media for more than four decades. Rising to prominence in the late 1970s with the Pictures Generation group, along with artists such as Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince and Louise Lawler, Sherman first turned her attention to photography at Buffalo State College, where she studied art in the early 1970s. In 1977, shortly after moving to New York, she began her Untitled Film Stills series. Sherman continued to channel and reconstruct familiar characters known to the collective psyche, often in disturbing ways, and in the mid to late 1980s her visual language began to explore the more grotesque aspects of humanity through the lens of horror and abjectness, as seen in works such as Fairy Tales (1985) and Disasters (1986-89). Such visceral images saw the artist introduce prosthetics and visible mannequins into her work, which would later be used in series such as Sex Pictures (1992) to add layers of artifice in her constructed female identities. Like Sherman’s use of costumes, wigs and makeup, their application was often left uncovered. Her famous History Portraits, begun in 1988, used these theatrical effects to break, rather than support, any sense of illusion.

Since the early 2000s, Sherman has used digital technology to further manipulate his characters. For his Clown series (2003) he added psychedelic backdrops that are both playful and menacing, exploring the disparity between his subject’s outer personality and inner psychology. In her Society Portraits (2008), the artist used a green screen to create grandiose environments for women from the upper echelons of society. In her 2010 series of murals (installed for her retrospective at MoMA in 2012), Sherman presents different characters against a computerized background with wigs, medieval clothing, and no makeup, and instead uses Photoshop to alter her facial features. In his 2016 series Flappers, the viewer is confronted with the vulnerability of the aging process in 1920s Hollywood stars, who pose in glamorous outfits from their early years with exaggerated makeup. In 2017, Sherman began using Instagram to upload portraits that use different apps to alter faces, transforming the artist into a plethora of protagonists in kaleidoscopic settings. Disorienting and disturbing, the posts highlight the dissociative nature of Instagram from reality and the fractured sense of self in modern society that Sherman has uniquely encapsulated since the beginning of his career.

For more information you can visit Hauser & Wirth’s website.

In New York a major exhibition on Cindy Sherman at Hauser & Wirth with more than 100 works
In New York a major exhibition on Cindy Sherman at Hauser & Wirth with more than 100 works

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