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Cindy Sherman

Text from American Visions : The Epic History of Art in America

Identity art did yield some images of real intensity, such as Cindy Sherman's often ferociously ironic photographs starring herself in different roles. Sherman (b. 1954) began with small black-and-white prints in the late 1970s, showing herself in fifties outfits, enacting fragments of an otherwise indecipherable narrative as housewife or glamor girl, modeled on film stills of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren, and exploring the various stereotypes of women. These had a quiet, ironic grip on the theme of identity-as-construct, the sense that when a person's costumes and props are taken away, there is (as Gertrude Stein famously said of Oakland, California, where she grew up) no there there. Later in the 1980s Sherman's work expanded into the baroque horrors of the vanitas. She made huge Cibachrome prints in which, grotesquely made up and extravagantly costumed, she parodied images from art history. An element of sexual terror entered some of these.


 


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