Cindy Sherman: Early Works, 1975-80
- Arabella Bradley
- 2 July 2019
Well-curated selection of early works by one of the most influential artists of the last 40 years
Cindy Sherman is possibly one of the most celebrated self-portrait photographers, and for good reason. Starting out her career in New York, she became immersed in the 'Pictures' generation of the late 1970s – a movement which recognised the photographic medium as a tool to criticise both 'high art' and media culture – and Sherman's practise epitomises those aims.
The well-curated yet small selection of works on show at Stills gives a strong sense of her affinity for adopting different personas from art history, film, and mass culture. The series Untitled (Murder Mystery People) is a perfect example of this: she embodies stereotypical old-Hollywood film characters, using the humour found in dressing up to critique the overuse of such regurgitated images ('The Dashing Leading Man', 'The Detective', 'The Drunken Wife', to name a few).
Doll Clothes, a 16mm film she made in 1975, sees Sherman as a paper doll, being dressed up in various outfits by anonymous hands; emphasising society's power to project the image they want onto the female body. Similarly, the four prints from her series Untitled Film Stills (1977-80) see her mocking the stereotypical presentation of female Hollywood stars in the media.
Sherman's work conveys strong messages about retaining individuality, which – although highly impactful in the 1970s - couldn't be more prevalent to acknowledge today, in a society consumed by conforming to stereotypes and norms fed to us by the media.
Stills, Edinburgh, until Sun 6 Oct.