The first major Australian solo exhibition in more than 15 years of work by the renowned New York-based artist Cindy Sherman will be on display at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 3 October 2016.
Cindy Sherman is one of the most recognised and influential artists of our time, who across her career has produced an astonishing number of character studies, experimenting with costume, prosthetics, makeup and digital photography to embellish and manipulate photographs in which she enacts her subjects in highly constructed images.
Sherman gained international recognition in the 1970s for inhabiting female tropes found in the mass media. Renowned for her mastery of masquerade; her own image is at the centre of an inspiring array of character studies, developed over decades. Widely collected since this time, her artworks can now be found in major public museums around the world.
In her photographs, Sherman expands on contemporary society’s fascination with aspiration and narcissism, as well as the associated emotional fragility. In an era obsessed with self-image, Sherman’s work continues to influence generations of artists working in photography and video.
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Director (QAGOMA) Chris Saines said in addition to six important photographic series produced by the American artist since 2000, the exhibition will feature an entirely new body of work created this year and shown for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Consistently featuring in major exhibitions and collections around the world and working alongside prominent fashion houses, Sherman’s practice is both broad and ambitious, and continues to challenge and transform our understanding of photography and the phenomenon of contemporary portraiture,” said Mr Saines.
By focusing on Sherman’s work since 2000, this exhibition charts the artist’s return as the model at the centre of her artworks, for which she is also the costume designer, make-up artist and, of course, photographer. These images are not self-portraits, rather, they represent the cliche?d figures we might come across in our daily lives, as well as in the pages of fashion magazines, and in the world of film and television and social media.
Sherman’s acute observations are at times confronting, uncanny and humorous, but they are also empathetic. In these images, we recognise the risks we face in falling victim to social pressures, together with our own desire to project a particular image, often in spite of our better judgment.
The exhibition includes more than 50 large-scale works drawn from public and private collections – such as the much written about series ‘head shots’ 2000-02 and the darker ‘clowns’ series from 2003–04, made in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA.
Also featured are Sherman’s ‘society portraits’ from 2008, an immense mural whose 5 metre-tall cast of characters loom large over gallery visitors, and two subversive fashion house collaborations, the Vogue-commissioned ‘Balenciaga’ 2007–08, and ‘Chanel’ 2010–2013 in which the artist mines the fashion house’s haute couture archives.
Ellie Buttrose, QAGOMA’s Associate Curator of Contemporary International Art said Cindy Sherman focused on the artist’s return as ‘the model’ after a long period in which she remained behind the camera. This stage of her career coincides with Sherman’s embrace of digital technologies that allow her to create elaborate backgrounds and work at a more imposing scale.
“Sherman’s work sets out to capture the essence of ‘a type’ in her meticulously staged photographs. By posing as her own subject, she is able to enter the characters and explore the humour behind exaggerated stereotypes,” said Ms Buttrose. “Sherman’s practice is influenced by pop culture, by the characters and types we see every day in an image saturated world.”
Shown for the first time outside of the United States, the exhibition will feature Sherman’s newest work, the 2016 series printed directly onto metal, that references early Hollywood and the excesses of the Roaring Twenties.
“These character studies evoke the languor of Depression-era greats, film stars such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich,” said Ms Buttrose.
Queensland Art Gallery – Gallery of Modern Art, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Exhibition continues to 3 October 2016
Admission fees apply
For more information, visit: www.qagoma.qld.gov.au for details.
Image: Cindy Sherman, United States b. 1954, Untitled #462 2007–08. Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery © The artist