Cindy Sherman’s ability to create images that call into question what, exactly, we are trying to say about ourselves has earned her an exalted place in the pantheon of great living artists. “We’re all products of what we want to project to the world,” says the artist, who mines the fertile ground of media and contemporary culture to unwrap that notion, by presenting a copy of reality that exposes undercurrents of anxiety, vulnerability, and objectification.
A major retrospective of Sherman’s work to date, organized by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, opens this month at the Walker Art Center. Cindy Sherman features more than 160 photographs covering all of the artist’s major series, including her most recent work, a series of larger-than-life murals.
Sherman adheres to a fairly straightforward formula. She is both artist and subject, arranging scenes, applying makeup, striking a pose, and, ultimately, capturing the image. The resulting photographs are anything but straightforward or predictable, though. “She continues to reinvent the work over and over,” explains Walker curator Siri Engberg, who is coordinating the Minneapolis leg of the MoMA exhibition.
Sherman’s dedication to the camera set her apart from the start. “While it’s commonplace for contemporary artists to use photography as one element in their work, few have immersed themselves in the medium as completely as Sherman,” says Engberg. Given two of the major themes in Sherman’s work—identity and representation—photography is the ideal medium because it shares a common aesthetic with movies, TV, and other media from which the artist often draws.
Cindy Sherman offers a rare opportunity to engage the entire body of Sherman’s work, populated as it is by a menagerie of characters who inhabit the corners of our collective unconscious. “Sherman is recognized as one of the most important contemporary artists in the last 30 years,” says Engberg. “The work just continues to become more and more interesting over time.” Nov. 10–Feb. 17. Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600, walkerart.org