The Cindy Sherman show at MoMA

Recently, I was in NYC and went to a mesmerizing retrospective at the MoMA, “Cindy Sherman,” a show that spans the career of this prolific artist who, for three decades, has proceeded to investigate photography and self-portraiture subverting them.

Using techniques of collage as well as inspiration from painting, sculpture, theater, assemblage, she plays with images, particularly those of women.

Posing as her own model, the artist captures herself in, as the MoMA press states: ” a range of guises and personas which are at turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting. With an arsenal of wigs, costumes, makeup, prosthetics, and props, Sherman has deftly altered her physique and surroundings to create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from screen siren to clown to aging socialite.”

In the words of The New York Times critic, Roberta Smith, Sherman “comes across here as an increasingly vehement avenging angel waging a kind of war with the camera, using it to expose what might be called both the tyranny and the inner lives of images, especially the images of women that bombard and shape all of us at every turn.” (See the NYT review of Sherman’s show).


While I wandered through the show fascinated, I couldn’t help wondering about the personal dimension which the show doesn’t overtly address. Cindy’s work is a one-woman extravaganza. She famously toils alone in her studio without assistants, performing all pre- and post-production work herself, acting as photographer, model, stylist, costume designer and editor, and thereby producing an enormous body of self-portraiture.

What does this method and resultant volume of work say about Cindy, the woman-chameleon, the subject-object of years of inventive investigation, and her interior view of herself?


For Cindy Sherman’s latest exhibitions and works you can click here.

6 thoughts on “The Cindy Sherman show at MoMA

  1. Nicely put. I love Sherman’s work. A fortunate opportunity to view her retrospective, fir sur. I once held the belief she was merely a narcissist but then I realized I was the one. Maybe she believes to have something right she must do it her self.

    1. Did you see it? It’s a great exhibition although I do agree with the critic from the New York Times that it was a little uneven in what it showed and how it showed it (i.e. the clown pictures could have used their own room).

  2. great commentary, Natasha. I saw some of her work at the Broad wing of LACMA a couple of years ago. Did you know Libby Lumpkin? she’s the one who told me about CS back in the ’80s.

    1. Thanks Eileen.
      No, I didn’t know LL (or I don’t remember her name). I find CS fascinating and love the society portraits especially.

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