When thinking about postmodern art, people usually imagine inexplicable pictures drawn in a peculiar manner, absurd installations or inconceivable sculptures. But it's not only the style and content of modern masterpieces that are striking. As technology evolves and new gadgets appear, artists choose new means to create their works. One of such technological devices is camera. Photography is extremely popular nowadays. Professional photographers and amateurs present thousands of pictures every day, and it’s extremely difficult to stand out of the crowd. However, Cindy Sherman managed to do that.
Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) is one of the most influential American contemporary artists and the author of the most expensive photograph ever. For 30 years, she has been acting like a model for her own pictures. In her photos, she appears in roles of different personas, which one can see on TV, in magazines, on the Internet and, of course, in real life. You can never see a portrait of her, though. Apart from the photographer's job, Cindy copes with costumes and makeup and deals with decorations too.
Cindy Sherman was born in New York and has 4 elder siblings. She started applying makeup as a teenager to look prettier, but later, she realized it helps her to completely change the appearance. She studied visual arts at Buffalo State College, but eventually, abandoned painting and took up photography, which helped her to concentrate more on the idea of a picture. Cindy’s first black- and-white collection Untitled Film Stills brought her fame and recognition. In her later photo shoots Back screen (1980) and Freaks (1986), she continued the motifs of ‘B’ movies. As Deana Mitchell says, “…her art deals with female stereotypes, and they are portraits not of how she sees herself but how she sees men seeing women” (Mitchell 2012).
Her works are often untitled, which adds some mystery and ambiguity. She says it's up to a viewer how to figure out the work which speaks for itself. According to Grace Gluek, “Close-cropped and close up, they portray young women in various roles, from a sultry seductress to a frightened, vulnerable victim who might have just been raped” (Gluek 2003). Some of her pictures contain grotesque motifs due to plastic elements, dolls and body parts used as additional decorations.
The photo under analysis is also untitled, #466. It’s a chromogenic color print, 8' 1 1/8 x 63 15/16" (246.7 x 162.4 cm). In the picture, one can see a woman in bright clothes. The first thing that comes to your mind is that the woman looks very luxurious. She is wearing a long turquoise robe with silver print and expensive accessories. Her posture indicates her high social rank – her hand on her hip, head straight. Something on her face leaves you under the impression that she looks down on you – her lips are strongly pressed, her look is haughty and serious. The picture is very realistic; there’s no feeling that the woman is sitting for her portrait. Her body is slightly turned left, and it seems that in a second, she will go away without saying a word. The background is also very clear. It is a mansion with a patio. The columns and arches remind of Moroccan houses. She stands in an empty porch. The house looks huge, but she seems to be the only person there. It is hard to determine the epoch in which the woman lives, but judging from her shoes, manicure and platinum blond hair, we can assume it is nowadays. The picture is well complemented by an expensive frame. I chose it because it was not like the other picture of the author. It was not grotesque, and the woman in it was very realistic. I had the feeling that it was not a photo, but a real person.
To conclude, photography is not as easy as it seems to be. On the one hand, there is no need to concentrate on technology of drawing, but on the other, there is much emphasis on the content. Cindy Sherman made her picture very simple and realistic, but sophisticated. # 466 conveys emotions and feeling of the author, but, at the same time, is enigmatic and mysterious.