Cindy Sherman behind the mask

“In self-reflexive photographs and films, Cindy Sherman invents myriad guises, metamorphosing from Hollywood starlet to clown to society matron. Often with the simplest of means—a camera, a wig, makeup, an outfit—Sherman fashions ambiguous but memorable characters that suggest complex lives that exist outside of the frame. Leaving her works untitled, Sherman refuses to impose descriptive language on her images—relying instead on the viewer’s ability to develop narratives. While rarely revealing her private intentions, Sherman’s investigations have a compelling relationship to public images, from kitsch to art history to green-screen technology.”


The curator of an exhibition of hers, Paul Moorhouse, stated that:

“Transforming her own face with makeup is a habit formed from Cindy Sherman’s earliest photographs,” Moorhouse explains. “But her use of prosthetics and more extreme, theatrical cosmetics after 1985 prepared the ground for combining these two devices. The masks pictures that Sherman created in the mid-1990s took a visual element present in her work from the outset to its inevitable, grotesque conclusion. From earliest times, masks have been connected with protection, deception, enhancement, magic disguise, performance and entertainment. For Sherman, masks are also intimately linked with identity and selfhood: exaggerating, concealing, transforming and delighting.”

Cindy Sherman

“Indeed, one of the most interesting things about this 1995 work is that, unusually, Sherman’s face isn’t actually in the shot. There is nobody behind the mask in this ‘self portrait’; the mask has supplanted Sherman’s own presence entirely. In this way, the picture is more monster movie than screen siren, yet, it still explores the way Sherman, as a woman, is seen and perceived.”



Sherman’s 1987 photograph, Untitled (Doll with Mask), also known as Untitled (Mask Over Baby Doll)

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