Gagosian Gallery presents a series of recent landscape format photographs by Cindy Sherman. This is her first exhibition with the Paris gallery, following exhibitions in Los Angeles and Rome in previous years.
Working exclusively as her own model for more than thirty years, Sherman endlessly transforms herself to address the complexities of identity through photographs that she controls as author, director, and stylist. A consummate performer, she captures every possible manipulation of her face and body on camera, coaxing the most nuanced expressions from her supple features, and refining every structural detail, from fingernails to props. Revealing myriad assumed identities, from fraught adolescent to suburban housewife to Renaissance aristocrat to modern-day social doyenne, Sherman continues to explore the inexhaustible range of social guises and psychological spaces that women have claimed throughout history.
In Sherman’s latest photographs, recondite female figures stand against vast and inhospitable natural landscapes. Elaborately costumed, they appear at odds with the backdrops of desolate plains, barren trees, and otherworldly wintry terrains. The dynamic between each woman and her alien setting varies; some hint at specific narratives, while in others she appears to have landed quite by chance. In Untitled (#551), she wears a heavily beaded full-length gold and cobalt dress, accented with a high, regal collar. Her spare silk turban and bare face contrast with the sumptuousness of her attire. Her clear blue, ever-watchful regard and her hands lightly clasped in an expectant gesture beckon the viewer to cross into the mossy riverbed at her back. In Untitled (#547), a phantasmal sorceress hovers at the edge of a stormy seascape. Clad in a long black gown and dramatically embellished bolero, she stares vacantly, her sagging, age-worn face framed by long, flowing silver locks. In Untitled (#552), she wears a severe black frock, white gloves and matching ruffled lace collar. With her sharp russet bob and deep scowl, she looks like a disapproving governess or scolding maid from a bygone era. In each image, the female figure looms larger than the surrounding natural world, in a reversal of the Romantic hierarchy.
For this series, Sherman shot the background landscapes on the isles of Capri and Stromboli, in Iceland during the 2010 volcanic eruption, and on Shelter Island, New York. Later she manipulated them digitally to create lush and painterly effects, tweaking rocky seascapes and clouds of volcanic ash to recall Barbizon landscapes or Turner’s ambrosial skies. Then she photographed herself in costume before a green screen in the studio, leaving her face free of makeup, and digitally manipulating it later. This series of photographs evolved from an editorial project for Pop magazine, using clothes from the Chanel archives. The garments range from 1920s haute couture designed by Coco herself to contemporary creations by Karl Lagerfeld; the sumptuous, elegant apparel, with its resplendent fabrics, feathers, ruffling, and beading creates a striking contrast with the bleak intensity of the surrounding landscape. These photographs draw explicit attention to the newly layered artifice of Sherman’s technique, while embracing popular conventions and processes in digital photography.
Cindy Sherman was born in 1954 in New Jersey. She lives and works in New York. Her work has been the subject of countless major international exhibitions including “Cindy Sherman: Retrospective,” the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1997, traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague; Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon; Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto through 2000); “Cindy Sherman,” the Serpentine Gallery, London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2003), and “Cindy Sherman: A Retrospective,” Jeu de Paume, Paris (2006, traveled to Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst, Denmark, and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin through 2007). A touring retrospective opened in February 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and is currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It will travel to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Dallas Museum of Art through June 2013.
From September 14th to October 10th, 2012
4 rue de Ponthieu
75008 Paris – France