Posts Tagged 'Cindy Sherman'

Just One (Last) Look

Cindy Sherman’s works are not self-portraits. Despite the fact that all her images feature one model, one photographer, and one make-up artist—all of whom are the artist herself—Sherman’s work constantly denies us access to the “real” Cindy Sherman. According to Gabriel Ritter, the DMA’s Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, “for the most part, Sherman’s works are not introspective images that yield insight into the artist’s psyche. Instead, they are carefully constructed portraits that foreground the plasticity of identity and photography itself.”

Cindy Sherman is the artist who hides in plain sight.

Following is an excerpt from “Cindy Sherman” by Andy Grundberg in Art in America, July 18, 2012:
Of course, Sherman is in her photographs, literally, or at least in the vast majority of them, but the theme of her work is often said to be one of absence: what we see is not Sherman but a repertoire of roles, each reflecting a culturally determined possibility of female identity. This is essentially what has made her a poster child for a coterie of postmodernism’s theory-driven critics.

Yet the emptying out of Sherman as an individual within her work strikes me as misguided and, given the development charted in this emotionally powerful exhibition, just plain wrong…. It has long been apparent…that Sherman’s impetus in making new pictures stems in large part from her reaction to the critical reception of the last batch, her urge to avoid being typecast both as an artist and as a woman.

The acclaimed nationally touring exhibition closes this weekend at the DMA. See the many guises of  Cindy Sherman through Sunday, June 9. Below are a few images from the exhibition, from installation through today.

Jeffrey Grove is the Senior Curator of Special Projects and Research at the DMA.

DMA Athletes in Training

One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to spend one morning every month talking with our fantastic Gallery Attendants about works in the collection. So far, we have discussed European art, shared Personal Responses to works in the collection, written Facebook profiles for photos in the Cindy Sherman exhibition, and compared three vastly different works in our American collection. Last week, we spent time in The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum.

After looking at the discus thrower, the Gallery Attendants were asked to divide into teams of two. Each team had to select a sport and strike a pose that epitomizes an athlete participating in that sport. The rest of us had to guess which sporting event they were re-creating. Their poses were creative, clever, and funny, and we couldn’t resist sharing them with you!

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Shannon Karol is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

Cindy Sherman Doppelgängers

DMA staff members found their inner Cindy Sherman earlier this month when we re-created our popular April Late Night Art Byte: Cindy Sherman Photo Booth. Create your own Cindy Sherman doppelgänger before the exhibition closes on June 9 to receive the limited edition DMA Friends Super Fan: Cindy Sherman Badge! Find out how to earn this badge and bonus points here.

Adam Gingrich is the Marketing Administrative Assistant and Kimberly Daniell is the Public Relations Manager at the DMA.

Cindy Sherman Transformed

On Friday, DMA Late Night visitors stopped by the Tech Lab to dress up and pose in a Cindy Sherman-like scene. Check out their transformations in these photographs taken by Greenhill School photography students and visit the Cindy Sherman exhibition to find the inspiration for the backdrops in the photos below. Stop by the Tech Lab during the Late Night on May 17 to participate in a Body Beautiful-themed Late Night Art Bytes, in celebration of our exhibition The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum.

Because so many visitors stopped by the photobooth, we are still editing images. Check the DMA’s Flickr page throughout the week to see new additions to the group.

Transform yourself at home into Cindy Sherman to earn the DMA Friends Super Fan: Cindy Sherman Badge! Find out how on the DMA Friends Highlights page.

Jessica Fuentes is the C3 Gallery Coordinator at the DMA.

Cindy Sherman: An Actor’s Perspective

The DMA has had several exciting opportunities to collaborate with the Dallas Theater Center in 2013. Last Monday, two of DTC’s fabulous actors joined our docents to share their perspectives on the Cindy Sherman exhibition. Hassan El-Amin and Christie Vela talked about the ways in which they transform themselves as they prepare to take on new roles. This also helped docents think about Cindy Sherman’s process, which includes using make-up, costumes, and props to alter her appearance for photographs.

Christie and Hassan both mentioned that sometimes it’s the little things that help them figure out who a character is. A pair of glasses, a silly vest, or a wig can make you act differently, and that may be just what’s needed to define a character. They also discussed how a costume can serve as a visual cue to the audience about a character’s personality. That costume tells us something about a character from the first moment we see it–Hassan described it as the “pop and sizzle.”

Actors Hassan El-Amin and Christie Vela lead training for the DMA's docents

Actors Hassan El-Amin and Christie Vela lead training for the DMA’s docents

The docents had a lot of questions about how Christie and Hassan mentally prepare for a new role. In a sense, they take on a new persona each time they prepare for a new production. They did say that they have fun inventing a back story for each character–they create little stories that help to explain a character’s personality traits or appearance. Christie described them as “little secrets” that she keeps for herself and maybe doesn’t tell the rest of the cast. The docents had an opportunity to explore this process while looking at Cindy Sherman’s Society Portraits, a series from 2008.

Inventing a persona for one of Cindy Sherman's Society Portraits

Inventing a persona for one of Cindy Sherman’s Society Portraits

Hassan led the docents through the galleries and asked them to describe the women in the series. Our best conversation was about Untitled #474. The group decided that this looked the most like a real society portrait. This woman has put forth a lot of effort with her outfit and makeup, so we know she cares about her appearance. Perhaps she is a woman who knows a lot of famous people, based on the wall of portraits behind her. They finally decided that she was an old-time movie starlet, and she had just had her third facelift in an effort to keep up her good looks. We were able to create a life for her just by looking deeper into what Cindy Sherman was presenting to us in the photograph.

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #474. 2008. Chromogenic color print, 7' 6 3/4" x 60" (230.5 x 152.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2012 Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #474. 2008. Chromogenic color print, 7′ 6 3/4″ x 60″ (230.5 x 152.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2012 Cindy Sherman

Christie then led the docents in a simple actor exercise. Each docent was asked to select one History Portrait and look at the details that Cindy Sherman has provided for us. Christie pointed out that in theater, everything actors need to know is in the text of a play. We can look at these photographs as a text as well–everything that we need to know is there, and everything has significance. Docents were then asked to think about how this person would walk. Would she lead with her nose, her chest, her hips? Docents walked around the gallery in character, and we tried to guess which photograph they were bringing to life. Once again, the emphasis was on slowing down and looking deeper to discover the hidden traits of these people.

Docents walking like figures from Cindy Sherman's History Portraits

Docents walking like characters from Cindy Sherman’s History Portraits

It was so interesting to hear Hassan and Christie talk about how important the audience is to a performance; I think that’s something a lot of us take for granted. They said as actors, they think of the audience as a partner and they’re interacting with us just as much as they are the other actors on the stage.  It’s interesting to think about how important the viewer is to Cindy Sherman’s photos, too.  Without our interpretations and invented narratives, the photos would just be untitled images in the gallery. Our relationships–either with photos or with actors on stage–help to complete the viewing process and make it fulfilling for everyone involved.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Friday Photos: Emotional Performances

Last month, Shannon Karol and I led a group of K-12 teachers through the Cindy Sherman exhibition.  The goal of this teacher workshop was to encourage educators to explore the artistry of both Cindy Sherman and photography by examining works of art spanning Sherman’s forty year career. We investigated themes of identity and performance as we considered Sherman’s role as photographer, model, art director, make-up artist, and stylist.

We concluded the workshop with a performance-based activity that shed light on Sherman’s artistic process.  Each teacher was given an emotion card and–without revealing their specific emotion–was asked to direct a partner to convey this emotion through facial expressions, body language and costumes. Everyone had a great time dressing up and playing director–take a look at the entertaining results!

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Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Collection Connections: Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, the groundbreaking artist’s retrospective that spans her career from the mid-1970s to the present, is currently on view at the DMA through June 9, 2013. Her photographs derive inspiration from a myriad of sources, including television, film, art history, high society, and cultural stereotypes. These themes, influences, and connections that run throughout her work can also be explored in many seemingly unrelated artworks in the DMA’s permanent collection.

Photography
Like the work of many of her contemporaries, Sherman’s photographs operate in opposition to her modernist predeecssors, like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams, who elevated form over content. Sherman, on the other hand, is more interested in how photography and images shape and exist within contemporary society. In fact, instead of identifying as a photographer, she sees herself as an artist who uses photography.

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #28, 1979, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Fredericka Hunter and Ian Glennie, Houston. (left)
  • Paul Strand, Abstraction, Porch Shadows Connecticut (1915), negative 1915, print 1976, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Joseph W. Gray, M.D. (right)

Female Contemporaries
Sherman cites several women artists, including Hannah Wilke, Lynda Benglis, Eleanor Antin, and Suzy Lake, as role models for bringing their own female bodies into their artistic practice. She also acknowledges the leading role that females, herself included, played in the formation of postmodernist work, observing: “In the later ’80s… what probably did increase the feeling of community was when more women began to get recognized for their work, most of them in photography: Sherrie [Levine], Laurie [Simmons], Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Ess… There was a female solidarity.”

  • Sherrie Levine, After Man Ray (La Fortune): 6, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift. (left)
  • Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund. (upper right)
  • Hannah Wilke, Pink Champagne, 1975, Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. (lower right)

Portraits and Self-Portraits
Though Sherman serves as the model as well as the artist, director, and producer for all her photographs, she is adamant that none of her photographs are self-portraits. In fact, she feels rather detached from the characters she portrays: “It’s not like I’m method acting or anything. I don’t feel that I am that person… I don’t become her.” Along with the varied works below, Sherman tests the traditional definition of portraiture and self-portraiture.

Cindy Sherman - Untitled #89

  • Cindy Sherman, Untitled #89, 1981, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund.
  • Jackie Saccoccio, Portrait (Hermetic), 2012, Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. (left)
  • Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated. (upper right)
  • Jim Dine, Self-Portrait Next to a Colored Window, 1964, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, Contemporary Arts Council Fund. (lower right)

Rococo Influences
Through her partnership with a Limoges porcelain house, Sherman produced a dinnerware and tea service set inspired by Madame de Pompadour. On the DMA’s soup tureen pictured below, Sherman appears dressed up as this famed and influential mistress of King Louis XV. The Museum’s Abduction of Europa was painted by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, the Rococo artist who was named First Painter to King Louis XV in 1770.

  • Cindy Sherman, “Madame de Pompadour (née Poisson)” soup tureen with platter, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund. (left)
  • Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre, The Abduction of Europa, 1750, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund.

Film
Sherman states: “Film has always been more influential to me than the art world.” In fact, her seminal body of work–the Untitled Film Stills produced from 1977 to 1980–visually recalls 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B-movies, and works by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Douglas Sirk. The two artists whose works are shown below found a similar inspiration in film.

  • Marlo Pascual, Untitled, 2009, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund. (left)
  • Luc Tuymans, The Man from Wiels II, 2008, The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAr Benefit Auction Fund. (right)

Alex Vargo
McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching


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