First a caveat, I have never really understood the fascination that so many people have with Cindy Sherman’s work, or been able to fully recognise the genius that so many others see. A genius that has elevated her to iconic status and wide recognition as one of the most important contemporary artists.
Perhaps because of the above, I was really looking forward to seeing this major show at MOMA. Perhaps it would help me appreciate what I’ve been missing? I had the privilege of a curatorial tour through a closed MOMA. (If you love MOMA during the day, when it’s bustling and often overcrowded, just think how great it is completely empty. It really is wonderful.)
The curator of the show, Eva Respini, gave us a great tour and was eloquent, and stimulating, without over-complicating or over-analysing the work on show.
We were led through what is a very intelligently and beautifully laid out retrospective. Even as a non-fan it was hard to not be impressed by the amount and scale of work on show and the numerous personalities and guises that Sherman adopts for her work (Sherman is both model, stylist and photographer for all her work).
My favourites of her work however hasn’t changed. It remains the series of fictional film scenes (“Untitled Film Stills 1977 – 1980”) where she shows herself as the leading lady or protagonist, and her more recent larger-scale portraits of herself in guises of powerful, sophisticated yet vain older women. (‘Society Portraits’ 2008) Uncharacteristically cased in gilded, as opposed to more modern, frames these works are undeniably striking.
(My least favourite body of Cindy Sherman works also remains the same, and are the series of macabre images, often of a sexual nature, that seem provocative for the sole purpose of being provocative.)
Anybody who loves Cindy Sherman’s work will adore this show. Anybody who just wants to learn more about Cindy and her work will at the very least find it worthwhile. I thought it was an excellent show. But sadly I still don’t quite understand the hyperbole and reverence that Cindy Sherman so often gets. Very few of her works move me either emotionally, philosophically or politically and aesthetically I can still think of many many artist’s whose photographs I prefer.