Posts Tagged ‘Cindy Sherman

08
Sep
14

Exhibition: ‘Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors’ at Kunsthaus Zürich

Exhibition dates: 6th June – 4th September 2014

 

I remember some time in the dim distant past when Cindy Sherman’s photographs actually had relevance and were important in and of themselves… but perhaps my memory is playing tricks with me. Memory is a strange thing for we remember only fragments of fragments, like an echo chamber, a distant echo of something (the construction of identity and gender) that was once cutting edge, now overtaken by reality itself – on the red carpet, in the cosmetic surgery offices, in the media mags. Once there may have been an original, an original Cindy Sherman, an original idea, but now there just seems to be pastiche after pastiche of a Sherman nobody is sure ever really existed.

There are certainly some horrors among this posting, images that I wish I had never seen, and never really wish to see again. As the amount of ‘Untitled’ works rises (untitled is such a cop out!) the numbers, and the body count, become irrelevant. The early work, through the 80s to the early 90s, had important things to say but now the artist formally know as Sherman is earth mother goddess to all, and ancestral trickster to many. Enough please!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Kunsthaus Zürich for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of 'Cindy Sherman - Untitled Horrors' at Kunsthaus Zürich

 

Installation view of Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors at Kunsthaus Zürich
Photo: Lena Huber

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #93' 1981

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #93
1981
Chromogenic color print
61 × 121.9 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #122 1983

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #122
1983
Chromogenic color print
89.5 × 54 cm
Vanmoerkerke Collection, Belgium
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #129' 1983

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #129
1983
Chromogenic color print
89.7 × 59.3 cm
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, Donation: The New Carlsberg Foundation
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New Yor

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #146' 1985

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #146
1985
Chromogenic color print
184.2 × 125.4 cm
Skarstedt Gallery, New York
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #153' 1985

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #153
1985
Chromogenic color print
170.8 × 125.7 cm
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #170' 1987

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #170
1987
Chromogenic color print
179.1 x 120.7 cm
Collection Metro Pictures, New York
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #216' 1989

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #216
1989
Chromogenic color print
221.3 × 142.5 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

 

“From 6 June to 14 September 2014, the Kunsthaus Zürich plays host to a major retrospective featuring American artist Cindy Sherman (b. 1954). Sherman is one of the leading exponents of staged photography. In her work she deals with issues of identity, (gender) roles and physicality, almost always using herself as the model. Cindy Sherman’s earliest works were created in 1975. Preceding the celebrated ‘Untitled Film Stills’ (1977-1980), these photographs were produced at home using an external shutter release, yet they were already concerned with the issues of identity and role play that are central to her oeuvre. The exhibition Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors includes a selection of these early and rarely shown works as well as her latest pieces, some of them monumental and covering entire walls. Sherman references the techniques and forms of advertising, cinema and classical painting.

THE THREATENING HEART OF UNTITLED HORRORS

The principal focus of the overview, which has been compiled by the Kunsthaus together with the artist, is the threatening and grotesque. The retrospective’s subtitle, ‘Untitled Horrors’, is partly a reference to the exhibition’s content, but also a play on the fact that Cindy Sherman invariably labels her photos ‘Untitled’. She leaves it to the viewer to read the pictures in their own way, inviting them to develop the stories behind them as they see fit, and come up with their own titles.

110 WORKS IN TOTAL

The presentation includes all the key works from the various phases of Cindy Sherman’s artistic career. Iconic pieces from the early period, such as the famous ‘Untitled Film Stills’ series, reminiscent of Italian Neo-Realism and American film noir, appear alongside the later photographs of ‘Hollywood/Hampton Types’ (2000-2002), while the ‘Clowns’ (2003-2004) encounter the ‘Sex Pictures’ series from 1992. These juxtapositions reveal the remarkable consistency with which, throughout her long career, the artist has engaged with fundamental issues of human existence and repeatedly explored new avenues of formal expression. Curated by Mirjam Varadinis and created in association with the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, the 110-work presentation dispenses with a linear or chronological approach, choosing instead to create unexpected combinations that shed new light on the oeuvre of this important artist and her exploration of the self through film and photography.”

Text from the Kunsthaus Zürich website

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #235' 1987-1991

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #235
1987-1991
Chromogenic color print
228.6 × 152.4 cm
Private collection, courtesy Segalot LP, New York
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #304' 1994

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #304
1994
Chromogenic color print
154.9 × 104.1 cm
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #324' 1996

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #324
1996
Chromogenic color print
146.7 × 99.1 cm
Collection Metro Pictures & Skarstedt Gallery
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #348' 1999

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #348
1999
Gelatin silver print
97,8 × 66 cm
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #352' 2000

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #352
2000
Chromogenic color print
68.6 × 45.7 cm
Collection Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #363 (Bus Riders I)' 1976/2000

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #363 (Bus Riders I)
1976/2000
Gelatin silver print
18.9 x 12.7 cm
Tate; purchased with funds provided by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, 2001
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #420' 2004

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #420
2004
Chromogenic color print (2-teilig)
Each: 182.4 × 115.8 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #458' 2007-2008

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #458
2007-2008
Chromogenic color print
195 × 147 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #544' 2010 / 2012

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #544
2010 / 2012
Chromogenic color print
172.7 × 254 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #549-C' 2010

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #549-C
2010
Pigment / print on PhotoTex, adhesive fabric,
Dimensions variable
© Cindy Sherman. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

 

Kunsthaus Zürich
Heimplatz 1
CH–8001 Zurich

Opening hours:
Tue/Fri–Sun 10 am – 6 pm
Wed/Thu 10 am – 8 pm

Kunsthaus Zürich website

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17
Aug
14

Exhibition: ‘People In A River Landscape: August Sander And The Photography Of The Present From The Lothar Schirmer Collection’ at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich

Exhibition dates: 2nd April – 24th August 2014

 

What a fascinating exhibition this looks to be… I wish I could see it!
Quite a few Sander photographs I have never seen before in the posting.
Sander is another photographer that would be near the top of my list.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Pinakothek der Moderne for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

August Sander. 'Stadtwald [Urban Forest]' c. 1938

 

August Sander
Stadtwald [Urban Forest]
c. 1938
Gelatin silver print
23 x 29 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'Children in the city' 1930

 

August Sander
Children in the city
1930
Gelatin silver print
21.3 x 26 cm (sheet)
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'Alter Posthof in Bacharach' 1926

 

August Sander
Alter Posthof in Bacharach
1926
Gelatin silver print
15.3 x 21.4 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

Sander-Die-Familie-WEB

 

August Sander
Die Familie in der Generation
1912
Gelatin silver print
21.5 x 28.6 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'Deutz Bridge, Rhine in winter' 1937

 

August Sander
Deutz Bridge, Rhine in winter
1937
Gelatin silver print
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'The Rhine near Boppard, Osterspey' 1938

 

August Sander
The Rhine near Boppard, Osterspey
1938
Gelatin silver print
22.9 x 29.3 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

Andreas Gursky. 'The Rhine II' 1999

 

Andreas Gursky
The Rhine II
1999
Chromogenic print
1564 x 3083 mm

 

August Sander. 'View from the Mülheim Bridge, Sunrise' 1938

 

August Sander
View from the Mülheim Bridge, Sunrise
1938
Gelatin silver print
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

 

August Sander’s epochal cycle People of the 20th Century is considered one of the most important works in the history of art and photography of the last century.

Sander’s photographic typology of German society did not only fascinate artists, writers and philosophers of that period but, at the same time, formed an important point of reference for the artistic concept contemporary photographers had of themselves. This is also reflected in the Munich publisher Lothar Schirmer’s photographic collection, the starting point of which was a group of some 80 works by Sander comprising not only portraits, but also landscapes and urban pictures, acquired in the early 1970s.

This batch of works, acquired from the artist’s estate back in the 1970s, comprises not only more than 40 originals of Sander’s famous portraits, including masterpieces such as the Stammmappe focussing on farmers in Westerwald, the portrait of the artist Heinrich Hoerle in the austere style of New Objectivity and Handlanger, with its impressive visual directness, but also a rare group of lesser known Rhineland landscapes and vedute of Cologne from the 1930s. Precisely the last two groups of works mentioned are enduring proof that Sander’s vision of an equally authentic and veritable document of the times was not only to be limited to people within their social and societal structure but should also include their immediate surroundings, the landscape and the urban environment – an aspect that, for a long time, was given little attention in analyses of the photographer’s work since his death in April, fifty years ago.

In view of the undisputed importance of Sander’s portraits, it is surpising that a more extensive selection of the photographer’s work is only now to be seen in the exhibition People in a River Landscape – and that in Munich too, although there were in fact a number of links between the artist and the city. Sander’s pioneering photography book, Antlitz der Zeit, was published in 1929 by the Munich-based Kurt Wolff Verlag; one year later, his works were to be seen in the exhibition Das Lichtbild – one of the rare presentations of Sander’s works anywhere before 1933; and in the 1960s and ’70s his extensive estate was stored not far from Munich.

Sander’s photographs from this collection will be exhibited for the first time in their entirety and be displayed in dialogue with works by contemporary artists such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall. The selection will be extended by a rare group of extraordinary photographs taken in Berlin by Heinrich Zille in the late 19th /early 20th century and enlarged by Thomas Struth almost 100 years later.

The exhibition presents a both representative and focussed cross section of Sander’s photographic oeuvre. At the same time it shows the medium of photography in a wider perspective by placing individual groups of works by Sander in dialogue with those of contemporary artists. Starting with a typology by Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose encyclopaedically structured work can be regarded as an immediate successor to Sander’s photographic credo, the selection – supplemented by works from the holdings of the Sammlung Moderne Kunst – includes Andreas Gursky’s Rhine picture, urban views by Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall and portraits by Thomas Ruff and Cindy Sherman, among others. The interplay between the past and the present, between small-format, black-and-white prints and colour images the size of large canvases, between austere documentary works and staged and digitally processed pictures, not only illustrates the immediate relevance of Sander’s concept, far beyond any temporal or formal distinctions, but also how photography has become established as an artistic form of expression in its own right within the context of contemporary art. This topic will be explored in greater depth in the accompanying series of lectures Why Photography Matters, at which the artists Hilla Becher and Thomas Struth, as well as the art historians Wolfgang Kemp and Michael Fried will be speaking. As a modest homage to another historical precursor, the exhibition finishes with a rare group of photographs of Berlin by Heinrich Zille taken at the turn of the century, which Thomas Struth enlarged and reinterpreted in 1985 using the original negatives.”

Press release from the Pinakothek der Moderne website

 

Jeff Wall. 'The Thinker' 1986

 

Jeff Wall
The Thinker
1986
Large-format slides in lightbox
216 x 229 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
Courtesy of the artist
© Jeff Wall

 

August Sander. 'Handlanger [Odd-job man]' 1928

 

August Sander
Handlanger [Odd-job man]
1928
Gelatin silver print
43.0 x 28.5 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #127' 1983

 

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #127
1983
© Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel München

 

August Sander. 'The Architect [Hans Poelzig]' 1929

 

August Sander
The Architect [Hans Poelzig]
1929
Gelatin silver print
40 x 29.8 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

Thomas Ruff. 'Portrait (T. Ruff)' [Selfportrait] 1987

 

Thomas Ruff
Portrait (T. Ruff) [Selfportrait]
1987
C-Print/Diasec
210 x 165 cm
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'Der erdgebundene Mensch' [The Earthbound Human] 1910

 

August Sander
Der erdgebundene Mensch [The Earthbound Human]
1910
Gelatin silver print
29.2 x 23.1 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

August Sander. 'Bauernpaar - Zucht und Harmonie' [Peasant Couple - Breeding and Harmony] 1912

 

August Sander
Bauernpaar – Zucht und Harmonie [Peasant Couple - Breeding and Harmony]
1912
Gelatin silver print
29.5 x 23.1 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

Thomas Struth. 'Alte Pinakothek, Self-portrait, Munich' 2000

 

Thomas Struth
Alte Pinakothek, Self-portrait, Munich
2000
© Thomas Struth / Courtesy Schirmer/Mosel München

 

August Sander. 'Painter [Heinrich Hoerle]' 1928

 

August Sander
Painter [Heinrich Hoerle]
1928
Gelatin silver print
59.3 x 47.7 cm
Lothar Schirmer Collection, Munich
© The Photographic Collection, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archive, Cologne, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

 

 

Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Strasse 40
Munich

Opening hours:
Daily except Monday 10am – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm

Pinakothek der Moderne website

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24
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Louise Lawler. Adjusted’ at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Exhibition dates: 11th October 2013 – 26th January 2014

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Complex and polyglot, conceptual and analytical, but simultaneously ironically light, elegiac, and unfathomable. Abstract, non-evaluative, impartial presentations and suggestive settings gazing toward the fringes of art. Strongly shaped by institutional critique, the works are casual (causal?) sociological commentaries reflecting on aesthetic, economic, and historical factors in art.

Apparently…

But do you like them?

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Marcus

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Many thankx to the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Lawler-this-drawing-is-for-sale-WEB

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Louise Lawler
Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris
1985
Gelatin silver print
39.5 x 59 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985 is a gelatine silver print showing a corner in a Paris room. The image is a careful composition of vertical and horizontal lines made up by architectural features in the background and, in the foreground, a square-edged leather covered chair on the right and a group of framed artworks, stacked against the wall, on the left. A free-standing ashtray in the image centre firmly anchors the composition on its vertical-horizontal axis: its narrow metal tube stand creating a strong vertical line and the ashtray repeating the horizontal plane of the chair arm below it. One artwork is visible in its entirety: a drawing by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) showing two women, one standing and one reclining, both holding books. Propped on a much larger frame that is turned towards the wall, the image – Etude pour La Lecture, 1923 – reinforces the combination of horizontal and vertical elements in Lawler’s picture. Below it, a painting of an organic form, also by Léger (La Racine, 1934), is partially visible behind the arm of the chair. (Text from the Tate website)

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Louise Lawler (Holzer, Nadin and Other Artists) 'Baby Blue' 1981

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Louise Lawler
(Holzer, Nadin and Other Artists)
Baby Blue
1981
Cibachrome (museum box)
28 1/2 x 37 1/4 x 1 inches
72.40 x 94.60 x 2.50 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

Top left: Edward Weston photographs of his son Neil Weston

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Louise Lawler. '16' 1985

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Louise Lawler
16
1985
Cibachrome (museum box)
27 x 39-5/8 inches
68.60 x 100.60 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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Louise Lawler. 'I-O (adjusted to fit)' 1993/98

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Louise Lawler
I-O (adjusted to fit)
1993/98
Cibachrome (museum box)
19 5/16 x 23 3/8 inches
49,10 x 59,40 cm (410.1)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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Louise Lawler. 'Taking Place - Il m'aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout' (He loves me, a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all) 2008/2009

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Louise Lawler
Taking Place – Il m’aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout (He loves me, a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all)
2008/2009
Cibachrome face mounted to plexiglass on 2″ museum box
47 3/4 x 55 3/4 inches
121.30 x 141.60 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Louise Lawler. 'Salon Hodler' 1992/1993

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Louise Lawler
Salon Hodler
1992/1993
Cibachrome
58 1/2 x 49 1/4 inches
148.60 x 125.10 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Louise Lawler. 'Unsentimental' 1999/2000

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Louise Lawler
Unsentimental
1999/2000
Cibachrome
120.7 x 144.8 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Louise Lawler. 'Pollock and Tureen (traced)' 1984/2013; Louise Lawler. 'Salon Hodler (traced)' 1992/1993/2013

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Louise Lawler
Pollock and Tureen (traced)
1984/2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

Louise Lawler
Salon Hodler (traced)
1992/1993/2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

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Louise Lawler. 'Hand On Her Back (traced)' 1997/1998

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Louise Lawler
Hand On Her Back (traced)
1997/1998/2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

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“The Museum Ludwig is hosting the first comprehensive exhibition in Germany of the American Conceptual artist Louise Lawler (born 1947, lives and works in New York). The exhibition comprises around 80 works, which are positioned throughout the entire building, thus engendering surprising situations through their encounters with the Museum Ludwig’s permanent collection. In addition, a new series of ten “tracings” has been created for the show – outline drawings that are reminiscent of children’s coloring books and draw on earlier works by Lawler. Furthermore, the artist has agreed to create two new, large-format “stretches” for the Museum Ludwig. These are photos that she has printed out on self-adhesive vinyl film and whose proportions she tailors to the space in question – even if that means deforming the motifs. Lawler’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta 12, the Whitney Biennial 2008, and recently in a large overview at the Wexner Art Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Louise Lawler photographs works by other artists and captures them in their various contexts: in museums, in private collections, at auctions, or in storage. Her works illustrate just how much the meaning of art is influenced by how it is presented and by the attendant circumstances in the institutions where it is located. Her analytical and at times ironic approach is revealing, but by no means evaluative, such as when her view of an abstract work by Jackson Pollock correlates with the way she looks at a decorative soup tureen.

Louise Lawler, who embarked on her oeuvre in the late 1970s, belongs to the broader field of the “Pictures Generation,” which also includes Sherrie Levine, Jack Goldstein, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman. At the same time, her beginnings were also strongly shaped by the institutional critique of the early 1970s, and consequently her works were initially interpreted as sociological commentaries reflecting on aesthetic, economic, and historical factors in art. Yet beyond this, her photographs illustrate to this day that an impartial presentation of art simply does not exist; they reveal the ideological implications inherent in the suggestive settings given to artworks, which would otherwise scarcely be visible. Lawler directs her gaze toward the fringes of art, as it were, creating subtle commentaries of a poetic casualness via compositions that distinguish themselves by their formal approach as well as by their eccentricity.

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Louise Lawler. 'Pink and Yellow and Black II (Green Coca Cola Bottles) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail' 1999

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Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black II (Green Coca Cola Bottles) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail
1999
Cibachrome (museum box)
26 5/8 x 26 5/8 inches
67.60 x 67.60 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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Louise Lawler. 'Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail' 1999

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Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail
1999
Cibachrome (museum box)
38 3/4 x 32 1/2 inches
98,40 x 82,60 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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Foreword

To describe Louise Lawler’s artistic practice is not easy: it is complex and polyglot, conceptual and analytical, but simultaneously ironically light, elegiac, and unfathomable. Lawler eyes the incidental, undermining the economy of attention, dislocating hierarchies, and querying, with the air of critical nonchalance, the system of art and its institutions. When works of art, arranged based on their colors and forms like flowers, unashamedly reveal the tastes and values of their owners, or sculptures held in gloomy depots are deprived of the attention they deserve, then Lawler’s works are a means of redress – what is not visible is given visibility. Her camera registers not only the life of artworks (after they have left the artists’ studios) in museums, corporate collections, depots, or at auctions, it also penetrates the most intimate abodes of the collectors, intruding even into their bedrooms. Lawler’s practice here is ambivalent, hardly judgmental, but constantly interested in poetic ambiguities, fractured harmony, and suggestive relationships. Her work does not seek out the essence of art but looks for compulsions, rules, and their readability. Incidental contiguities, formal-aesthetic analogies, but also savage thought shape the work of Louise Lawler, which had its beginnings in the late 1970s in the context of appropriation art and followed in the footsteps of the practice of institutional critique, which has been all too often discursively co-opted. Almost forty years later a differentiated perspective on this subtle work opens up, a work that does not understand melancholy and postmodernist criticality as a contradiction and unfolds its potency precisely in subtle unsharpness.

We are delighted that with Adjusted Louise Lawler has put together such an extensive survey of her work for the very first time, a show that covers the early conceptual and performative relics, the so-called ephemera, as well as a wide-ranging selection of photographic works and the latest wall works. Although the greater part of her oeuvre is photographic, it becomes clear that Lawler is not a photographer. She uses the medium as a means to appropriate situations and, in resolute focusing, to let the things which would otherwise remain unarticulated speak for themselves. Her exhibition title, Adjusted, which is to be understood as referring to her large format wallpapers adjusted to fit the given circumstances, is the distant echo of a critical practice fully aware that adjusting is a dialectic process where there are neither winners nor losers, neither conquerors nor conquered.

Louise Lawler’s exhibition Adjusted opens simultaneously with the new presentation of the collection Not Yet Titled. New and Forever at Museum Ludwig, which emphasizes the provisional nature of art historical narratives and presentations, colliding with the claim to eternity raised by the institution of the museum. Lawler’s exhibition spans the entire building, intervenes in the contexts of the collection, and spreads itself out, then retreats, or functions plainly and simply as a casual commentary. The reflectivity of her work, its context-specific changeability, presents the provisional as a quality constitutive for art, which in the process makes it clear just how much circumstances determine the way of looking at things.”

Excerpt from the Foreword by Philipp Kaiser

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Louise Lawler. 'Life After 1945 (Hats)' 2006/2007

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Louise Lawler
Life After 1945 (Hats)
2006/2007
Cibachrome (mounted on museum box)
27 1/4 x 22 3/4 inches
69.20 x 57.80 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

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Louise Lawler. 'Chandelier' 2001/2007

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Louise Lawler
Chandelier
2001/2007
Cibachrome (mounted on museum box)
19 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches
48,90 x 39,40 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin and London

(Lucio Fontana)

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Louise Lawler. 'Nude' 2002/2003

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Louise Lawler
Nude
2002/2003
Cibachrome (museum mounted)
59.5 x 47.5 inches
151.10 x 120.70 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Gerhard Richter. Ema (Nude on a Staircase) 1966, 200 cm x 130 cm, Oil on canvas)

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Louise Lawler. 'Still Life (Napkins)' 2003

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Louise Lawler
Still Life (Napkins)
2003
Digital cibachrome on aluminum museum box
19-3/4 x 14-1/4 inches
50.20 x 36.20 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Louise Lawler. 'WAR IS TERROR' 2001/2003 (Julia Margaret Cameron)

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Louise Lawler
WAR IS TERROR
2001/2003
Cibachrome (museum mounted)
30 x 25-3/4 inches
76,20 x 65,40 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Julia Margaret Cameron)

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Louise Lawler. 'Monogram' 1984

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Louise Lawler
Monogram
1984
Cibachrome, type on wall (sometimes)
(image) 39 1/2 x 28 inches
100,30 x 71,10 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Jasper Johns)

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Louise Lawler. 'Portrait' 1982

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Louise Lawler
Portrait
1982
Cibachrome
19 x 19 inches
48.30 x 48.30 cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

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Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art
1095 Budapest Komor Marcell Street 1
Hungary 06 1 555-3444

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 – 20.00
Closed on Mondays

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art website

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07
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Yasumasa Morimura: Theater of the Self’ at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Exhibition dates: 6th October 2013 – 12th January 2014

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Cindy Sherman, eat your actress out…

A fascinating, erudite analysis of the difference between Edouard Manet’s Olympia and Yasumasa Morimura’s Futago can be found on the seemingly anonymous Hoegen: Thoughts About Gender, Sex And Sexuality web page (excerpt below). If you can find an author’s name it would be appreciated!

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Many thankx to The Andy Warhol Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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“In Anne D’Alleva’s article concerning reception theory, she draws upon several scholars of art and literature to discuss the importance of not only the artist, but also of the viewer. She discusses the symbiotic relationship that must exist and the merits of the ideal viewer. The two artworks that she mentions to support her arguments are Edouard Manet’s Olympia and Ysumasa Morimura’s Futago. These two artworks are prime examples of works that establish an ideal viewer, or viewers, as well as a mirror stage. These two theories assist the art historian to go beyond the biography of the artist and question the relationship of the image and it’s audience.

Just as Wolfgang Iser believes there is an implied reader for literature, one must believe that there is an implied viewer of Edouard Manet’s Olympia and a different implied viewer for Yasumasa Morimura’s Futago (114). In the case of Manet’s Olympia, one might believe the ideal implied viewer is a white and wealthy man of the upper class. This ideal viewer would appreciate, or maybe question, the bold gaze of Olympia, and possibly even recognize her as the popular courtesan (116)…

The ideal viewer for Morimura’s photograph is not as easy to define.  One might make the presumption that Morimura desires the same ideal viewer of Manet, so that they can simply see the work differently. Also, one could assume that he intended his painting to be viewed by Asian, upper class homosexuals who have seen Manet’s Olymia and want to connect on a more personal level. Either of these audiences may be ideal.

According to Ernest Kris, art “requires the participation of both artist and spectator.” (110) Therefore, there must be something that establishes a relationship of the ideal viewer and the photograph of Yasumasa Morimura. Since it is a photograph, and not a painting, there is a humanistic connection that is not present in Manet’s Olympia that ultimately assists the creation of an image-audience relationship. The gaze is not a representation of a gaze but the actual gaze of Morimura establishing a deeper relationship with the ideal viewer of the artist and subject. Since the ideal audience is harder to define for Morimura’s photograph, the establishing element of the relationship between the ideal viewer and the artwork are also hard to define. If the ideal viewer is exactly that of Manet’s: a white, wealthy, upper-class man, then the “shock factor” of the image is multiplied. The ideal viewer has just begun to accept this shocking image of a nude female daring to look at her viewer when Morimura decided to change the race, gender, and possibly the sexual orientation of the subject of the artwork. This assumption, however, provides that the viewer come with “pre-understanding” as described by Roman Ingarden (113); in this case, a memory of Manet’s Olympia. If one assumes that this image is meant for the common man, this relationship is established through the use of photography, the universal and common way to capture images. If one assumes the connection between the inclusive group of Asian, male, homosexuals, then the establishment of the relationship is directly associated with the subject and artist…

The reception theory of Ernest Gombrich states the importance of perception is clearly prevalent within these works (113). The artists have taken their own interpretations of these works, but one must value the fact that their ideal viewers can be similar and have similar perceptions. The differences of their individual perceptions provide for the differences between their viewers. However, the perception of the viewer, whether ideal or not, is the ultimate reflection of the artwork in the culture.

Clearly, the mirror stage is present in these two images. The viewer does not seem to view their self in the artwork directly, but they do feel a connection to the work.  Morimura most definitely used Manet’s Olympia as a basis image for his Futago. Although some details are incongruous, the overall effect of Futago is a mirrored image of the whole self of Olympia. There are several differences in these paintings that one may attribute to race and gender that affect the dynamics of the mirror effect. Most obviously, Morimura, who was his own subject in his photographic rendition of Manet’s Olympia, is a man. This affects the mirror image of the body. He is leaner, has no curves and is more muscular. Also, his race affects skin color as well as the some of the details of the picture. He has clearly chosen a kimono to replace the intricate shawl, and a seated, waving cat to replace standing one – both of these depictions have significance in Asian culture (116). Cultural implications are evident.

Overall, these two images reflect Anne D’Avelia’s idea that that two similar artworks can have two different implied viewers. Also, they can mirror each other in certain respects, but diverge in others. These help reinforce D’Avelia notes that gender, expression, details, and race, all play roles in developing the image-audience relationship. They also reflect our class work exploring the troubling of gender norms and the gaze.”

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'Portrait (Futago)' 1988

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Yasumasa Morimura
Portrait (Futago)
1988
Color photograph
82 ¾ x 118 inches
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; A.W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund, 92.108

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'To My Little Sister: for Cindy Sherman' 1998

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Yasumasa Morimura
To My Little Sister: for Cindy Sherman
1998
Ilfochrome print mounted on aluminum
55 x 31 inches
Private Collection, New York

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'Doublonnage (Marcel)' 1988

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Yasumasa Morimura
Doublonnage (Marcel)
1988
Color photograph
59 x 47 ¼ inches
Private Collection, New York

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Art History

Yasumasa Morimura’s reprisals of European masterpieces are, at once, acts of homage and parody. Painstakingly realized, his photographic reconstructions of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Edouard Manet, among others, bring compositional questions together with those pertaining to race, gender and sexuality. In doing so, they reveal both the aesthetics and the politics embedded in the art historical canon.

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Actresses

This section of the exhibition focuses on Morimura’s restaging of scenes from award winning films featuring Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Jodie Foster and many others. It is notable that the artist’s impersonations are not anonymous but well-known stars, archetypes of Hollywood’s leading ladies. As stated in their titles, each work is a self-portrait and together they propose a range of possibilities for the artist’s own identity. Morimura has stated, “My own self-definition includes this entire zone of possibilities. When I apply this way of thinking to making a self-portrait, it becomes what I call an ‘open self-portrait.'”

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'M's Self-portrait No.15' 1995

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Yasumasa Morimura
M’s Self-portrait No.15
1995
Gelatin silver print
18 ½ x 21 ¼ inches (framed)
Collection of the artist, on deposit at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'Self-portrait (Actress)/after Elizabeth Taylor 1' 1996

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Yasumasa Morimura
Self-portrait (Actress)/after Elizabeth Taylor 1
1996
Ilfochrome print mounted to plexiglass
47 ¼ x 37 ¼ inches
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

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Morimura_Self-Portrait_BW_After-Marilyn_Monroe_1996-WEB

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Yasumasa Morimura
M’s self-portrait No. 56/B 9 (or “as Marilyn Monroe”)
1996
Gelatin silver print
Edition 6 of 10
11 ¾ x 14 inches

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“For more than three decades Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura has forged an extraordinary body of work that reimagines the visual culture of the West, as well as that of his native Japan. Whether portraying Elizabeth Taylor, Mao Zedong or Andy Warhol, Morimura’s iconic images examine the practice of photography while also claiming a space for the self in historical narratives. The artist inserts himself as the subject(s) in all of his works. The exhibition, Yasumasa Morimura: Theater of the Self, is a retrospective of Morimura’s 30 year career covering his fascination with the self-portrait, celebrity, gay and transgendered life, art history, and popular culture align him closely with the work of Andy Warhol. Morimura has described himself as Warhol’s “conceptual son.”

Developed in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition focuses on three important bodies of work: his celebrated “Art History” photographs in which he painstakingly restages European masterpieces; “Requiem” in which Morimura recreates iconic photographs relating to political and cultural life; and the “Actors” series in which he assumes the personae of Hollywood luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Audrey Hepburn.

Milton Fine Curator of Art, Nicholas Chambers states, “Including almost 100 images, many of which have never before been seen in the United States, Theater of the Self offers audiences an in-depth view of Morimura’s work. His pictures reveal a sophisticated form of engagement with the worlds of celebrity, art and the mass media that is at once celebration and critique, homage and parody, and has the effect of questioning the nature of the individual’s relationship to culture-at-large.””

Press release from The Warhol website

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Requiem

The artworks comprising the Requiem Series are derived from photographic sources and depict prominent masculine figures in moments of triumph or transition. Substituting himself for ideologues, dictators and creative thinkers, Morimura reflects on what these figures represent for the broader culture and on the role of photography in celebrating, demonizing or memorializing them.

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'A Requiem: Vietnam War 1968 - 1991' 1991/2006

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Yasumasa Morimura
A Requiem: Vietnam War 1968 – 1991
1991/2006
Gelatin silver print

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'A Requiem: Theater of Creativity / Andy Warhol in Motion' 2010

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Yasumasa Morimura
A Requiem: Theater of Creativity / Andy Warhol in Motion
2010
Digital video, black and white, silent, 3:58 minutes
Collection of the artist

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'A Requiem: Mishima 1970' 2006

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Yasumasa Morimura
A Requiem: Mishima 1970
2006
Digital video, color, sound, 7:42 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'A Requiem: Red Dream/ Mao' 2007

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Yasumasa Morimura
A Requiem: Red Dream / Mao
2007
C- print mounted on alpolic
59 x 47 ¼ inches
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

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Yasumasa Morimura. 'A Requiem: Oswald, 1963' 2006

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Yasumasa Morimura
A Requiem: Oswald, 1963
2006
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

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The Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212-5890
T: 412.237.8300

Opening hours:
Monday closed
Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 5pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 5pm

The Andy Warhol Museum website

Yasumasa Morimura: Theater of the Self exhibition microsite

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19
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors’ at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 22nd September 2013

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Like a mouthful of cinders.

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Many thankx to the Astrup Fearnley Museet for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #92' 1981

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #92
1981
Chromogenic colour print
61 x 121.9 cm
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #167' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #167
1985
Chromogenic colour print
150 x 225 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled Film Still #32' 1979

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #32
1979
Gelatin silver print
69.5 x 87.2 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #150' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #150
1985
Chromogenic colour print
121 x 163.8 cm
Collection of Cynthia and Abe Steinberger

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled Film Still #56' 1980

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Cindy Sherman 
Untitled Film Still #56
1980
Gelatin silver print
15.5 x 22.8 cm
Moderna Museet
Donation from The American Friends of the Moderna Museet, Inc., 2010

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“Cindy Sherman (born 1954) is one of the leading and most influential artists of our time. She belongs to a generation of postmodern artists who redefined the photograph and its place in an ever more visually oriented culture. Taking female roles in photographic representations as her starting point, Sherman creates recognizable pictures that mirror the human condition in its many nuances. Sherman’s pictures became key works in a time of turbulence for the very concept of art, and continue to challenge concepts of representation, identity and portrait.

Cindy Sherman’s allegorical pictures reflect our own conception of the world and open up for new interpretations of familiar phenomena. She uses herself as a model and eqally portrays film stars and pin-up girls, as well as abnormal monsters from fantasy worlds. Sherman’s assertive use of masks, wigs and prosthetics has a disturbing effect, which is further reinforced in pictures where the human presence is gradually reduced in favour of posed dolls or traces of waste and decay.

The exhibition Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors has been composed to emphasise the disturbing, grotesque and disquieting sides of Sherman’s pictures. These are aspects that are visible in her exploration of well-established photographic genres such as film stills, fashion photography or classic portraits, as well as in series with titles such as Fairy Tales, Disasters, Sex Pictures, Civil War and Horror & Surrealist. This exhibition seeks to highlight these key aspects in her artistry and to examine their relevance through a dedicated selection of works from the beginning of her career in the mid-1970s up to the present day.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a richly illustrated catalogue is being published in cooperation with art publishers Hatje Cantz Verlag. The idea behind the catalogue is to explore and examine the more disquieting sides of Sherman’s art by inviting contributions from authors who have touched on similar themes in their own works. Contributors are well-known artists, dramatists and authors including Lars Norén, Miranda July, Sibylle Berg, Sjón, Sara Stridsberg, Karl Ove Knausgård and Kathy Acker.”

Press release from the Astrup Fearnley Museet website

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #402' 2000

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #402
2000
Chromogenic colour print
88 x 60 cm
Astrup Fearnley Samlingen / Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #132' 1984

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #132
1984
Chromogenic colour print
176.3 x 119.2 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #199-A' 1989

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #199-A
1989
Chromogenic colour print
63.3 x 45.7 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #152' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #152
1985
Chromogenic colour print
184.2 x 125.4 cm
Astrup Fearnley Samlingen/ Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #470' 2008

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #470
2008
Chromogenic colour print
216.5 x 147.5 cm
Acquired with founding from The American Friends of the Moderna Museet Inc.,

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Astrup Fearnley Museet
Strandpromenaden 2
0252 Oslo
T: +47 22 93 60 60

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 12-17
Thursday 12-19
Saturday, Sunday 11-17
Mondays closed

Astrup Fearnley Museet website

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20
Oct
12

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th September – 11th November 2012

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Installation photographs of the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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Details of one of Gregory Crewdson’s works from the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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“The American middle-class nightmare: nothing is clean, orderly, idyllic, or romantic. In his perfectly staged, hyperrealistic tableaux, photographer Gregory Crewdson reveals the claustrophobic limbo and abyss of spiritual repression that is the typical suburb. Here, hushed-up violence, alienation, isolation, and emptiness are nothing new or unfamiliar, but rather part of the everyday neighbourhood experience.”

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Gregory Crewdson, In a Lonely Place, Abrams Publishing, New York, 2011

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“I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.”

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Gregory Crewdson

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Downfall of a dream: (n)framing the enigma in Gregory Crewdson’s
Beneath the Roses

After the excoriating, unreasonably subjective diatribe by Robert Nelson in The Age newspaper (“Unreal stills, unmoving images” Wednesday October 17 2012) I hope this piece of writing will offer greater insight into the work of this internationally renowned artist. With some reservations, I like Crewsdon’s work, I like it a lot – as do the crowds of people flocking to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy to see the exhibition. Never have I seen so many people at the CCP looking at contemporary photography before and that can only be a good thing.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. The early series Fireflies are small silver gelatin photographs that capture “the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night.” These are minor works that fail to transcend the ephemeral nature of photography, fail to light the imagination of the viewer when looking at these scenes of dusky desire and discontinuous lives. The series of beautiful photographs titled Sanctuary (2010) evidence the “ruin of the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini.” Wonderful photographs of doorways, temples, dilapidated stage sets with excellent use of soft miasmic light creating an atmosphere of de/generation (as though a half-remembered version of Rome had passed down through the generations) interfaced with contemporary Rome as backdrop. The digital prints show no strong specular highlights, no deep blacks but a series of transmutable grey and mid tones that add to the overall feeling of romantic ruin. It is a pity that these photographs are not printed as silver gelatin photographs, for they would have had much more depth of feeling than they presently possess. They just feel a little “thin” to me to sustain the weight of atmosphere required of them.

But it is the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) that has made Crewdson truly famous. Shot using a large format camera, Crewdson makes large-scale photographs of elaborate and meticulously staged tableaux, which have been described as “micro-epics” that probe the dark corners of the psyche. Working in the manner of a film director, he leads a production crew, which includes a director of photography, special effects and lighting teams, casting director and actors. He typically makes several exposures that he later digitally combines to produce the final image. Photographs in the series of “brief encounters” include external dioramas (shot in a down at heel Western Massachusetts town), where Crewdson shuts down streets and lights the whole scene; to interior dialogues where houses are built on sound stages and the artist can control every detail of the production. Influences on these works include, but are not limited to:

David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo), Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters), the paintings of Edward Hopper, Diane Arbus (the detritus of her photographic interiors), film noir, psychoanalysis, American suburbia, the American dream, the photographs of Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and surrealism. Concepts that you could link to the work include loneliness, alienation, apathy, resignation, mystery, contemplation and confusion, identity, desire, memory and imagination.

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Now to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

Another major influence that I will add is that of the great Italian director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life) who shot most of that film on the sets at Cinecittà studios in Rome. It is perhaps no coincidence that Crewdson, on his first overseas film shoot, shot the series Sanctuary at the very same location. Crewdson’s photographs in the series Beneath the Roses are an American form of  “The Sweet Life.” In 1961, the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther praised Fellini’s “brilliantly graphic estimation of a whole swath of society in sad decay and, eventually, a withering commentary on the tragedy of the over-civilized… Fellini is nothing if not fertile, fierce and urbane in calculating the social scene around him and packing it onto the screen. He has an uncanny eye for finding the offbeat and grotesque incident, the gross and bizarre occurrence that exposes a glaring irony. He has, too, a splendid sense of balance and a deliciously sardonic wit that not only guided his cameras but also affected the writing of the script. In sum, it is an awesome picture, licentious in content but moral and vastly sophisticated in its attitude and what it says.”1 The same could equally be said of the Crewdson and his masterpieces in Beneath the Roses. Crewdson is in love with Fellini’s gesture – of the uplifting of the characters and their simultaneous descent into “sweet” hedonism, debauchery and decadence using the metaphor of downfall (downfall links each scene in La Dolce Vita, that of a “downward spiral that Marcello sets in motion when descending the first of several staircases (including ladders) that open and close each major episode.”)2 Crewdson’s “spectacular apocalypses of social enervation”3 mimic Fellini’s gestural flourishes becoming Crewdson’s theme of America’s downfall, America as a moral wasteland. Crewdson’s is “an aesthetic of disparity” that builds up a cumulative impression on the viewer that finds resolution in an “overpowering sense of the disparity between what life has been or could be, and what it actually is.”4

Crewdson’s cinematic encounters are vast and pin sharp when seen in the flesh. No reproduction on the web can do their physical presence justice; it is the details that delight in these productions. You have to get up close and personal with the work. His dystopic landscapes are not narratives as such, not stills taken from a movie (for that implies an ongoing story) but open-ended constructions that allow the viewer to imagine the story for themselves. They do not so much evoke a narrative as invite the viewer to create one for themselves – they are an “invitation” to a narrative, one that explores the anxiety of the (American) imagination, an invitation to empathise with the dramas at play within contemporary environments. For me, Crewdson’s extra ordinary photographs are a form of enigma (a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation), the picture as master puzzle (where all the pieces fit perfectly together in stillness) that contains a riddle or hidden meaning. Clues to this reading can be found in one of the photographs from the series (Blue Period, see detail image, above) where Crewdson deliberately leaves the door of a bedside cupboard open to reveal a “Perfect PICTURE PUZZLE” box inside. The viewer has to really look into the image and understand the significance of this artefact.

Another reading that I have formulated is of the transience of space and time within Crewdson’s series. In the disquieting, anonymous townscapes people look out from their porches (or the verandas are lit and empty), they abandon their cars or walk down desolate streets hardly ever looking directly out at the viewer. The photographs become sites of mystery and wonder hardly anchored (still precisely anchored?) in time and space. This disparity is emphasised in the interior dialogues. The viewer (exterior) looks at a framed doorway or window (exterior) looking into an scene (interior) where the walls are usually covered with floral wallpaper (interior / exterior) upon which hangs a framed image of a Monet-like landscape (exterior) (see detail image, above). Exterior, exterior, interior, interior / exterior, exterior. The trees of the landscape invade the home but are framed; exterior/framed, interior/mind. There is something mysterious going on here, some reflection of an inner state of mind.

In his visual mosaics Crewdson engages our relationship with time and space to challenge the trace of experience. His tableaux act as a kind of threshold or hinge of experience – between interior and exterior, viewer and photograph. His photographs are a form of monism in which two forces (interior / exterior) try to absorb each other but ultimately lead to a state of equilibrium. It is through this “play” that the context of the photographs and their relationship to each other and the viewer are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic as much as information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the body, the world of which it is part and the dream-reason of time.5 This intertextual (n)framing (n meaning unspecified number in mathematics) encourages the viewer to explore the inbetween spaces in the non-narrative / meta-narrative,”and by leaps (intuitive leaps, poetic leaps, leaps of faith)”6 encourage escapism in the imagination of the viewer. It is up to us as viewers to seek the multiple, disparate significances of what is concealed in each photograph as “felt knowledge” (Walter Benjamin), recalling to mind the sensory data placed before our eyes, something that can be experienced but cannot be explained by man: “the single moment of the present amidst the transience of life and searching for some kind of eternal truth.”7

Finally, in a more adverse reading of the photographs from the series Beneath the Roses, I must acknowledge the physically (not mentally) static nature of the images where every detail of the mise-en-scène is fully articulated and locked down: from the perfect trickle of blood running from the woman’s vagina in Blue Period, to the reflections in mirrors, the detritus of living scattered on the bedroom floor, the dirty telephone, packed suitcases and keys in locks to the desolate looks of the participants that never engage with the viewer. Despite allusions of despair, in their efficacy (their static and certain world order), there is no real chthonic madness here, no real messiness of the capture of death, murder and the wastage of human life (famine, AIDS, cancer or the blood running over the pavement in one of Weegee’s murder scenes for example). This is Fellini’s gross and bizarre LITE. Americurbana “is being addressed with the same reserve and elegance that ensures that the institution – artistic, political, what you will – is upheld and never threatened. It is pre-eminently legible, it elicits guilt but not so much as to cause offence.”8 I must also acknowledge the male-orientated viewpoint of the photographs, where men are seated, clothed, lazy or absent and all too often women are doing the washing or cooking, are naked and vulnerable. In their portrayal of (usually) half dressed or naked females the photographs evidence a particularly male view of the world, one that his little empathy or understanding of how a female actually lives in the world. For me this portrait of the feminine simply does not work. The male photographer maintains control (and power) by remaining resolutely (in)visible.

Overall this is a outstanding exhibition that thoroughly deserves that accolades it is receiving. Sitting in the gallery space for an hour and a half and soaking up the atmosphere of these magnificent works has been for me one of the art experiences of 2012. Make sure that you do not miss these mesmerising prophecies.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the artist, Gagosian Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Special thankx to Director of the CCP Naomi Cass and Ms. James McKee from Gagosian Gallery for facilitating the availability of the media images. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

All photographs © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Installation and detail photographs Dr Marcus Bunyan

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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“In a Lonely Place presents selections from three major series by Gregory Crewdson, Fireflies (1996), Beneath the Roses (2003-2008), Sanctuary (2010) and, presented for the first time, the video Field Notes (2009). The exhibition title comes from Nicholas Ray’s 1950s film noir of the same name, one of many films that inspired Crewdson. In a Lonely Place is evocative of an underlying mood-a quiet feeling of alienation and loneliness that links the three series selected by curators Estelle Af Malmborg, Jens Erdman Rasmussen and Felix Hoffmann. In a Lonely Place presents the first comprehensive exhibition of Crewdson’s work in Australia.

In Beneath the Roses, anonymous townscapes, forest clearings and broad, desolate streets are revealed as sites of mystery and wonder; similarly, ostensibly banal interiors become the staging grounds for strange human scenarios. Crewdson’s scenes are tangibly atmospheric: visually alluring and often deeply disquieting. Never anchored precisely in time or place, these and the other narratives of Beneath the Roses are located in the dystopic landscape of the anxious American imagination. Crewdson explores the American psyche and the dramas at play within quotidian environments.

In his most recent series, Sanctuary (2010), Crewdson has taken a new direction, shooting for the first time outside the US. During a trip to Rome, he visited the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini. Crewdson discovered fragments of a past glory, with occasional unexpected views of the surrounding contemporary Roman suburbia. Cinecittà is a lonely place deserted by the film crews who once used the site to recreate settings of ancient Rome, medieval Italy and nineteenth-century New York.

In the intimate photographs of Fireflies, Crewdson portrays the mating ritual of fireflies at dusk, capturing the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night. Unlike the theatrical scale of the Beneath the Roses and Sanctuary series, Fireflies is a quiet meditation on the nature of light and desire, as the images reflect not only upon the fleeting movements of the insects in their intricate mating ritual, but upon the notion of photography itself, in capturing a single ephemeral moment.

Gregory Crewdson received a BA from the State University of New York, Purchase, New York in 1985 and an MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. He is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery and White Cube Gallery.”

Press release from the Gagosian Gallery website

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Installation photographs the series Sanctuary (2010) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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1. Crowther’s review first published in The New York Times, April 20, 1961. In Fava and Vigano, 105 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

2. Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

3. Sultanik, Aaron. Film, a Modern Art. Cranbury, N.J: Cornwall Books, 1986, p.408

4. Richardson, Robert. “Waste Lands: The Breakdown of Order,” in Bondanella (ed.), Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism, p.111 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

5. Bacon, Julie Louise. “Liquid Archive: On Ambivalence,” in Liquid Archive. Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), 2012, p.119

6. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “The Museum – A Refuge for Utopian Thought,” in Rüsen, Jörn; Fehr Michael, and Ramsbrock, Annelie (eds.). Die Unruhe der Kultur: Potentiale des Utopischen. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2004. In German.

7. Kataoka, Mami commenting on the work of Allan Kaprow. “Transient Encounters,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.174

8. Geczy, Adam. “A dish served lukewarm,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.177

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Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
T: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Gagosian Gallery website

Centre for Contemporary Photography website

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08
Jun
12

Exhibition: ‘Cindy Sherman’ at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 11th June 2012

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Ceaselessly inventive, the bodies (literally) of work of Cindy Sherman are a wonder to behold. From film stills to head shots, from history portrait to society portraits, Sherman constantly reinvents herself, her variations of identity exploring “the complexity of representation in a world saturated with images,” her iterations into the construction of femininity and masculinity constantly “provocative, disparaging, empathetic, and mysterious.”

Where to next? Her recent series of digitally altered landscapes and portraits (Cindy Sherman at Metro Pictures, New York, April – June 2012) seem less resolved than her earlier work, becoming almost a pastiche of themselves. Despite their massive size they seem to lack resolution, the great female impersonator of our time relying for effect on Self as feminine earth (m)Other, tricked up in dubious, quasi-ethnic regalia. Sherman is almost sacrosanct with regard to criticism but it’s about time someone said it: these images are pretty awful.

After so many simulacra, so many layerings and expositions of identity isn’t it about time Sherman got back to basics and ditched these grandiose notions of identity sublime. The sublimation (an unconscious defense mechanism by which consciously unacceptable instinctual drives are expressed in personally and socially acceptable channels) of her/Self, her actual body, the energy of her (non) presence is finally starting to wear thin. Will the real Cindy Sherman (if ever there is such a thing) please stand up and tell us: what do you really stand for, where as a human being, is your spirit really at?

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Many thankx to MOMA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Cindy Sherman MOMA installation with photographs from her society portraits (2008) to left and centre

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Cindy Sherman MOMA history portraits (1988-90) installation

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Cindy Sherman MOMA headshots (2000-2002) installation

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21 
1978
Gelatin silver print
7 1/2 x 9 1/2″ (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #6 
1977
Gelatin silver print
9 7/16 x 6 1/2″ (24 x 16.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #56 
1980
Gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 9 7/16″ (16.2 x 24 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder in memory of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd

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Gallery 2

In fall 1977, Sherman began making pictures that would eventually become her groundbreaking Untitled Film Stills. Over three years, the series (presented here in its entirety) grew to comprise a total of seventy black-and-white photographs. Taken as a whole, the Untitled Film Stills – resembling publicity pictures made on movie sets – read like an encyclopedic roster of stereotypical female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films. But while the characters and scenarios may seem familiar, Sherman’s Stills are entirely fictitious; they represent clichés (career girl, bombshell, girl on the run, vamp, housewife, and so on) that are deeply embedded in the cultural imagination. While the pictures can be appreciated individually, much of their significance comes in the endless variation of identities from one photograph to the next. As a group they explore the complexity of representation in a world saturated with images, and refer to the cultural filter of images (moving and still) through which we see the world.

Wall text from the exhibition

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #137 
1984
Chromogenic color print
70 1/2 x 47 3/4″ (179.1 x 121.3 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Purchased with the Alice Newton Osborn Fund, 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #458 
2007-08
Chromogenic color print
6′ 5 3/8″ x 58 1/4″ (196.5 x 148 cm)
Glenstone

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Gallery 3 

Fashion – a daily form of masquerade that communicates culture, gender, and class – has been a constant source of inspiration for Sherman and a leading ingredient in the creation of her work. Throughout her career the artist has completed a number of commissions for fashion designers and magazines, and this gallery gathers many of these works. Sherman’s fashion pictures challenge the industry’s conventions of beauty and grace. Her first such commission, made in 1983, parodies typical fashion photography. Rather than projecting glamour, sex, or wealth, the pictures feature characters that are far from desirable – whether goofy, hysterical, angry, or slightly mad. Later commissions resulted in more extreme images of characters with bloodshot eyes, bruises, and scars. These exaggerated figures reached ostentatious heights in a 2007-08 commission, in which fashion victims – including steely fashion editors, PR mavens, assistant buyers, and wannabe fashionistas – wear clothing designed by Balenciaga and ham it up for the camera. Sherman’s interest in the construction of femininity and the mass circulation of images informs much of her work; the projects that take fashion as their subject illustrate the artist’s fascination with fashion images but also her critique of what they represent.

Wall text from the exhibition

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #424 
2004
Chromogenic color print
53 3/4 x 54 3/4″ (136.5 x 139.1 cm)
Holzer Family Collection

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Gallery 5 

Sherman, who photographs alone in her studio, has used a variety of techniques to suggest different locations and imaginary (sometimes impossible) spaces, extending the narrative possibilities of her images. In her first foray into color, in 1980, the artist photographed herself in front of rear-screen projections of various cityscapes and landscapes, evoking films from the 1950s and 1960s that used similar techniques to create the illusion of a change in location. In later series, such as the head shots (2000-2002), clowns (2003-04), and society portraits (2008), the artist used digital tools to create a variety of environments. The garish fluorescent colors in a clown picture contribute to the disturbing quality of the portrait, while a fairy tale forest provides a dreamy backdrop for a well-to-do lady.

Wall text from the exhibition

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“The Museum of Modern Art presents the exhibition Cindy Sherman, a retrospective tracing the groundbreaking artist’s career from the mid-1970s to the present, from February 26 to June 11, 2012. The exhibition brings together 171 key photographs from the artist’s significant series – including the complete Untitled Film Stills (1977-80), the critically acclaimed centerfolds (1981), and the celebrated history portraits (1988-90) – plus examples from all of her most important bodies of work, ranging from her fashion photography of the early 1980s to the breakthrough sex pictures of 1992 to her 2003-04 clowns and monumental society portraits from 2008. In addition, the exhibition features the American premiere of her 2010 photographic mural. An exhibition of films drawn from MoMA’s collection selected by Sherman will also be presented in the Museum’s theaters in April. Cindy Sherman is organized by Eva Respini, Associate Curator, with Lucy Gallun, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

Cindy Sherman is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential artists of our time and her work is the unchallenged cornerstone of post-modern photography. Masquerading as a myriad of characters in front of her own camera, Sherman creates invented personas and tableaus that examine the construction of identity, the nature of representation, and the artifice of photography. Her works speak to an increasingly image-saturated world, drawing on the unlimited supply of visual material provided by movies, television, magazines, the Internet, and art history.

Ms. Respini says, “To create her photographs, Sherman works unassisted in her studio and assumes multiple roles as photographer, model, art director, make-up artist, hairdresser, and stylist. Whether portraying a career girl or a blond bombshell, a fashion victim or a clown, a French aristocrat or a society lady of a certain age, for over 35 years this relentlessly adventurous artist has created an eloquent and provocative body of work that resonates deeply with our visual culture.” 

The American premiere of Sherman’s recent photographic mural (2010) will be installed outside the galleries on the sixth floor. The mural represents the artist’s first foray into transforming space through site-specific fictive environments. In the mural Sherman transforms her face via digital means, exaggerating her features through Photoshop by elongating her nose, narrowing her eyes, or creating smaller lips. The characters, who sport an odd mix of costumes and are taken from daily life, are elevated to larger-than-life status and tower over the viewer. Set against a decorative toile backdrop, her characters seem like protagonists from their own carnivalesque worlds, where fantasy and reality merge. The emphasis on new work presents an opportunity for reassessment in light of the latest developments in Sherman’s oeuvre.

Entering the galleries, the exhibition strays from a chronological narrative typical of retrospectives, and groups photographs thematically to create new and surprising juxtapositions and to suggest common threads across several series. A gallery devoted to her work made for the fashion industry brings together commissions from 1983 to 2011. Sherman’s interest in the construction of femininity and mass circulation of images informs much of the work that takes fashion as its subject, illustrating not only a fascination with fashion images but also a critical stance against what they represent. A gallery exploring themes of the grotesque focuses on bodies of work from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, including disasters (1986-89) and sex pictures (1992). Sherman’s investigation of macabre narratives followed a trajectory of the physical disintegration of the body, and features prosthetic parts as a stand-in for the human body. A gallery devoted to Sherman’s exploration of myth, carnival, and fairy tales pairs works from her 2003 clowns with her 1985 fairy tales series. These theatrical pictures revel in their own artificiality, with menacing characters and fantastical narratives.

Galleries devoted to single bodies of work are interspersed among the thematic rooms. Sherman’s seminal series the Untitled Film Stills, comprising 70 black-and-white photographs made between 1977 and 1980, are presented in their entirety (the complete series is in MoMA’s collection). Made to look like publicity pictures taken on movie sets, the Untitled Film Stills read like an encyclopedic roster of female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films. While the characters and scenarios may seem familiar, Sherman’s Stills are entirely fictitious. Her characters represent deeply embedded clichés (career girl, bombshell, girl on the run, housewife, and so on) and rely on the persistence of recognizable manufactured stereotypes that loom large in the cultural imagination.

Other series presented in depth include Sherman’s 1981 series of 12-color photographs known as the centerfolds. Originally commissioned by Artforum magazine, these send-ups of men’s erotic magazine centerfolds depict characters in a variety of emotional states, ranging from terrified to heartbroken to melancholic. With this series, Sherman plays into the male conditioning of looking at photographs of exposed women, but she turns this on its head by taking on the roles of both (assumed) male photographer and female pinup. The history portraits investigate the relationships between painter and model, and are featured in depth in the exhibition. These theatrical portraits borrow from a number of art historical periods, from Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical. This free-association sampling creates an illusion of familiarity, but not with any one specific era or style (just as the Untitled Film Stillsevoke generic types, not particular films). The subjects (for the first time, many are men) include aristocrats, Madonna and child, clergymen, women of leisure, and milkmaids, who pose with props, elaborate costumes, and obvious prostheses.

Sherman has explored the experience of aging in a youth- and status-obsessed society with several bodies of work made since 2000. For her headshots from 2000-2002 (sometimes called Hollywood/Hamptons), the artist conceived a cast of characters of would-be or has-been actors (in reality secretaries, housewives, or gardeners) posing for headshots to get an acting job. With this series, Sherman underscores the transformative qualities of makeup, hair, expression, and pose, and the recognition of certain stereotypes as powerful transmitters of cultural clichés. Her monumental 2008 society portraits feature women “of a certain age” from the top echelons of society who struggle with today’s impossible standards of beauty. The psychological weight of these pictures comes through in the unrelenting honesty of the description of aging and the small details that belie the attempt to project a certain appearance. In the infinite possibilities of the mutability of identity, these pictures stand out for their ability to be at once provocative, disparaging, empathetic, and mysterious.”

Press release from the MOMA website

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #193 
1989
Chromogenic color print
48 7/8 x 41 15/16″ (124.1 x 106.5 cm)
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #213 
1989
Chromogenic color print
41 1/2 x 33″ (105.4 x 83.8 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #216 
1989
Chromogenic color print
7′ 3 1/8″ x 56 1/8″ (221.3 x 142.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser

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Gallery 7 

Sherman’s history portraits (1988-90) investigate modes of representation in art history and the relationship between painter and model. These classically composed portraits borrow from a number of art-historical periods – Renaissance, baroque, rococo, Neoclassical – and make allusions to paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio, Fragonard, and Ingres (who, like all the Old Masters, were men). This free-association sampling creates a sense of familiarity, but not of any one specific era or style. The subjects (for the first time for Sherman, many are men) include aristocrats, Madonnas with child, clergymen, women of leisure, and milk-maids, who pose with props, costumes, and obvious prostheses. Theatrical and artificial – full of large noses, bulging bellies, squirting breasts, warts, and unibrows – the history portraits are poised between humorous parody and grotesque caricature.

A handful of Sherman’s portraits were inspired by actual paintings. Untitled #224 was made after Caravaggio’s Sick Bacchus (c. 1593), which is commonly believed to be a self-portrait of the artist as the Roman god of wine. In Sherman’s reinterpretation, the numerous layers of representation – a female artist impersonating a male artist impersonating a pagan divinity – create a sense of remove, pastiche, and criticality. Even where Sherman’s pictures offer a gleam of art-historical recognition, she has inserted her own interpretation of the canonized paintings, creating contemporary artifacts of a bygone era.

Wall text from the exhibition

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #359 
2000
Chromogenic color print
30 x 20″ (76.2 x 50.8 cm)
Collection Metro Pictures, New York

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Gallery 8 

After almost a decade of staging still lifes with dolls and props, in her 2000-2002 head-shots series Sherman returned to a more intimate scale and to using herself as a model. The format recalls ID pictures, head shots, or vanity portraits made in garden-variety portrait studios by professional photographers. First exhibited in Beverly Hills, the series explores the cycle of desire and failed ambition that permeates Hollywood. Sherman conceived a cast of would-be or has-been female actors posing for head shots in order to get acting jobs; later, for an exhibition in New York, she added East Coast types. Whichever part of the country they’re from, we’ve seen these women before – on reality television, in soap operas, or at a PTA meeting. With these pictures, Sherman underscores the transformative qualities of makeup, hair, express-ion, and pose, and the power of stereotypes as transmitters of cultural clichés. She projects well-drawn personas: the enormous pouting lips of the woman in Untitled #360 suggest a yearning for youth, while the glittery makeup and purple iridescent dress worn by the character in Untitled #400 indicate an aspiration to reach a certain social status. In her role as both sitter and photographer, Sherman has disrupted the usual power dynamic between model and photographer and created new avenues through which to explore the very apparatus of portrait photography itself.

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #465 
2008
Chromogenic color print
63 3/4 x 57 1/4″ (161.9 x 145.4 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Photography Committee, 2009

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #466
2008
Chromogenic color print

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #474 
2008
Chromogenic color print
7′ 7″ x 60 1/4″ (231.1 x 153 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Michael Lynne, Charles Heilbronn, and the Carol and David Appel Family Fund

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Gallery 10 

Set against opulent backdrops and presented in ornate frames, the characters in Sherman’s 2008 society portraits seem at once tragic and vulgar. The figures are not based on specific women, but the artist has made them look entirely familiar in their struggle with the impossible standards of beauty that prevail in a youth – and status – obsessed culture. At this large scale, it is easy to decipher the characters’ vulnerability behind the makeup, clothes, and jewelry. The psychological weight of these pictures comes through the unrelenting honesty of their description of aging, the tell-tale signs of cosmetic alteration, and the small details that belie the characters’ attempts to project a polished and elegant appearance. Upon careful viewing, they reveal a dark reality lurking beneath the glossy surface of perfection. As with much of her work, in her society portraits Sherman has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to channel the zeitgeist. These well-heeled divas presaged the financial collapse of 2008, the end of an era of opulence – the size of the photographs alone seems a commentary on an age of excess. Among the numerous iterations of contemporary identity, these pictures stand out as at once provocative, disparaging, empathetic, and mysterious.

Wall text from the exhibition

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #475 
2008
Chromogenic color print
7′ 2 3/8″ x 71 1/2″ (219.4 x 181.6 cm)
The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica

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Gallery 11 

Because the majority of Sherman’s pictures feature the artist as model, they showcase a single character. In the 1970s Sherman experimented with cutouts of multiple figures, in her whimsical 1975 stop-motion animated short film Doll Clothes and her rarely seen 1976 collages, which were achieved through a labor-intensive process of cutting and pasting multiple photographs. When Sherman began working digitally in the early 2000s, she was able to more easily incorporate multiple figures in one frame, allowing for a variety of new narrative possibilities. Where the early works chart the movements and gestures of a single character through space, the multiple figures in recent works interact with one another to create tableaus.

Wall text from the exhibition

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The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
T: (212) 708-9400

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Monday, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
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My Favourite Cindy Sherman at MOMA

MOMA website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘The Songs of Eternity’ 1994

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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