In New Work, Cindy Sherman Becomes Women of a Certain Age


By Stephanie Murg Comment

cindy sherman.jpgChameleonlike artist Cindy Sherman is back with her first exhibition of new work since 2004. On view through December 23 at New York’s Metro Pictures gallery is a series of color photographs of Sherman in the guise of upper-class ladies of a certain age: here the taftan-clad grand dame wafting through her villa, there a whirl of sparkly accessories and leathery skin in the hotel ballroom. Exploring ideas of beauty, self-image, and aging, Sherman nails an aesthetic that fashion designer Michael Kors has described as “very M.O.B. [mother-of-the-bride],” as shown in the spot-on lavender taffeta tableau at right. Shot against a green screen, the portraits are often an awkward match for their worldly backgrounds, which only heightens the disquieting effect that is a Sherman trademark. How did this new series come about? Sherman explained in a recent interview with Paper magazine editor David Hershkovits:

Well, a friend had been turning me on to some characters on websites. There’s this one called Brenda Dickson—she was a soap opera star who’s sort of infamous now on YouTube, where people mock her website. She has a video on her website which is all about how to look as effortlessly beautiful as she looks. And she doesn’t look at all effortless! She just looks so over-the-top. Originally the posing stuff came from work I did last year for French Vogue. They were meant to look like snapshots at parties. You know, people trying to look so eager to look good for the camera. I liked these older women trying to look good and dignified and over-the-top. Just the idea of these rich ladies who pose in ball gowns in their living rooms with their toddlers—it just looks so ridiculous.