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Friday, 16 April 2021


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I have seen Cindy Sherman in-person once some years ago. The photo on her Wikipedia profile page most resembles my memory of her appearance.

Sherman is just a few months older than me...very much a contemporary. I can't say I'm engaged by her work as a photographer, although I do salute her (assistants') technical prowess at constructing her conceptual confections so skillfully. I put her in the same group as David LaChapelle, Greg Crewdson, et.al. Not photographers per se, just artists using photography as a medium.

As an artist, however, I do greatly admire her creativity and stamina in the marketplace. Her visual puns and clever tricks have certainly tattooed many of her images in my mind, even though I don't engage with them

Gotta say, I never "got" Cindy either, I always was wowed by the idea that the art world was buying that stuff! I decided to cut her some slack after her self-deprecating turn in John Waters film "Pecker".

I don't 'get' her either but then I belong to the 'witness' tradition of photography and she's a conceptual artist. Her photographs are not about the subjects in the photographs. Her subjects are just a medium, a proprietary visual vocabulary to express her ideas. I don't get her work because I don't share or understand that visual vocabulary. It is a language I have no interest in learning.

More or less immediately after Untitled Film Still and the Bus Riders, Sherman hit on a lighting technique that flattens her face out completely. Then she paints on whatever contours she likes.

She still acts.. a little. But not like she did in the early days.

She's playing dress-up and letting the critics struggle, which they gamely do. Is that "for real?" It seems to be real enough?

I don’t look for artist’s interviews or reading usually what they say about their art, but having said this it was interesting to see what my three favorites had to say—they being Hockney, Arbus and Sherman.
— Sherman is talking about the mechanics (your link was the first time I heard/saw the [real?] Sherman).
— Hockney being interviewed, in a (what do they call it: a coffee table book?) book is very intellectual.
— Arbus—well she committed suicide.
I guess those are three extremes for talking about ones art. In no case, at the level of viewer, do they tell you about their art.

Not, Not, Not my style or do I have interest in seeing anymore of her work, yes I did check her work out. But I give her a Ton of credit for her fame and fortune, good for her. I guess you can make the argument that everything has been photographed and some of it done very well and a lot not done very well. Cindy had a brainstorm and it has clicked with many in the art world, just my 2 cents worth.

I enjoy her creativity. She is a visual artist with something to say. There is a story and at least one character in her images. Not many photographers could do what she does. Anybody can walk the streets and shoot hundreds of photos hoping for that one lucky shot. Sherman creates her lucky shots. With the longevity and popularity of her work, she has carved out her place in photographic history. Whether you like her or not, she’s got style, talent and financial success in a field where only a very small percentage of participants ever succeed.

I so much agree with you. I did not get it neither, but this does absolutely NOT mean that her work is not good. I remember when I was a little child, accustomed to the nice sounds of Mozart, when I heard a recording of Boris Godunov. I nearly vomited. Guess what: It is now one of my favourite operas. I just was not accustomed to the Russian melodic then.

[I know what you mean. When my brother first played "Mingus Ah Um" for me, one of the great masterpieces of jazz, I felt there was something deeply wrong about it--it troubled me--and I also felt sure that it was "difficult" music. Now I can't even recover those feelings. It's among (many) favorite jazz albums, one I thoroughly enjoy at every rehearing, a familiar old friend, tuneful and beautiful. And I just cannot even comprehend any more how I once considered it "difficult"! --Mike]

I would call her a kind of very skilled caricaturist, who at their best are equal to any artist working with human subjects, drawing out certain truths. But she works in the fiction world, so in a way her creations are like the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I was going to compare her to a skilled photoshop user who just happens to work in the physical world, but I think it's more than that.

"What Does Cindy Sherman Look Like?" She looks quite likeable and very normal for an "artist".

Do I get her work? Yes, but not the prices that it commands.

Do I like it? Not really.

Do I admire Cindy Sherman? Hell Yes! Cindy has found a way to save thousands in model fees.

farmers or hunters..
knives or spoons

I never "got" Cindy Sherman either until me and a photographer friend took in a huge retrospective of hers at Fotografiska in Stockholm. We were both wowed by her work.

This other time I went to see an exhibition of Scholler portraits and the one portrait that, to me, was the absolutely most interesting one of them all was the portrait of Cindy Sherman. I stared at it for a good while and as I walked away I mused that finally I had seen the "real" Cindy Sherman.

Moments later I understood that I was fooling myself. Is there even a photograph of the "real" Cindy Sherman?

Thanks for featuring the comment by Zyni Moe.

Liked her stuff straight away, and was pleased to have found her. But then the prosthetics grew wilder, and though some photographs I saw in an exhibition of her recent stuff in London just before lockdown were kind of appealing, nothing recent comes close to the emotion in scenes like this, in my opinion.

Untitled Film Still #48 (1979)

Sherman is amazing, immediately speaking to me when I saw her work decades ago. What's there to "get"? It's obvious (as the Au Pairs sang).

Thanks to Zyni Moë for making it real.

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