Sunday Evening Reflection: Cindy Sherman

“The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told.”

Cindy Sherman

A year ago, on October 26, 2019, Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition, Cindy Sherman, opened with great fanfare. I had marked this event several months in advance, as this exhibition was an exploration of Cindy Sherman’s journey from the mid-1970’s to the present day, including selections from each of her major series, some of which had been created as recently as 2019.

“Everyone thinks these are self-portraits but they aren’t meant to be. I just use myself as a model because I know I can push myself to extremes, make each shot as ugly or goofy or silly as possible.”

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman challenges us to reflect upon individual identity, fashion trends, societal conventions, and transitions that come with aging. I visited the exhibition several times, each visit giving me a greater understanding of her work within the wider flow of creativity. Her imagination and brilliant way of presenting her appearance was breathtaking.

In the last week of the exhibition, without the knowledge that within a few days the WHO would announce the COVID-19 pandemic, I came to say goodbye to Cindy Sherman. As I look back at my photos, these many months later, there is an added poignancy in my reflection. We are now experiencing a new reality, a fundamental examination of personal identity and community engagement.

Thank you for joining me on my “virtual”return to Cindy Sherman’s exhibition. For more photos link into my Cindy Sherman SmugMug Gallery

“I think people are more apt to believe photographs, especially if it’s something fantastic. They’re willing to be more gullible. Sometimes they want fantasy. Even if they know it’s fake they can believe anything. People are accustomed to being told what to believe in.”

Cindy Sherman

53 Comments Add yours

  1. 24irises says:

    Enjoyed your presentation of her work ….very interesting and provocative ! It was wonderful to have a virtual visit to this gallery. Thank you Sent from Sharon’s device

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    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you joined me, Sharon! So much has happened over these past months. When I look back, I’m seeing Cindy Sherman’s artwork from an entirely different perspective – it has taken on new meaning. Sending hugs your way.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Rebecca,
    thank you very much to introduce Cindy Sherman to us. We didn’t know her work before. We especially like the last quote.
    With warm greetings and hugs from the cold sea
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Sending Vancouver sunshine your way, but I’m afraid there is a cold wind brewing on our side of the world, too. BRRRR….. Thank you for joining me at the Vancouver Art Gallery. With every visit, I found more meaning within the photos. The notations were helpful in providing background and reasons for each series, but I have learned that art reaches out and touches us in unique ways, depending upon our circumstances, location, etc. I thought of our discussion on colour when I viewed the photos. Sending many hugs and love to my dear, dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Klausbernd says:

        Thank you very much, dear Rebecca.
        Art touches us in ways depending on location and other circumstances. These circumstances influence what we see in which way. Like the Campbell soup can which is perceived as art standing in the Museum.
        We have nearly no wind, light clouds and around 15 degrees.
        Big hugs and lots of love for our dear friend
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Dave Astor says:

    Rebecca, a wonderful experience to see your panoramic presentation about this stunning pre-Covid exhibit. The way Cindy Sherman takes on various personas is amazing and thought-provoking. (The Vancouver Art Gallery looks like quite an impressive building — outside and in.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      As I look back, I think the Cindy Sherman exhibition was serendipitous, reminding me that we have many parts to our lives and we are always in transition. I love our Art Gallery, which was first opened in 1931 at a different location. In 1983, it moved to the current building, which was originally a neo-classical courthouse building, designed by Victoria,B.C. architect Sir Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935) who was originally from Yorkshire, England. They say he was a “colouful figure” which comes out in his brilliant architecture designs. He also designed Victoria’s Legislative Assembly buildings and the iconic Empress Hotel. There are plans to move again, but I have a feeling it will take some time and a considerable amount of money to bring the “new building” plans, which are very exciting, to fruition.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Meg says:

    Thank you for this virtual presentation – it makes it possible to keep learning and engaging!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you, Meg. I agree wholeheartedly, it is indeed possible to keep learning and engaging. We are living in a time where virtual connection has become the new reality. How we relate within this milieu is unfolding as we go along. We live in uncertain times, that demands our highest participation. So glad that we connected.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. What a lovely post and a great introd to Cindy Sherman AND even better, her images.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Oh Shehanne, I am delighted that you joined me. With your imagination, you would have been fascinated by how Cindy Sherman acts out many female roles in her works, leaving obvious flaws in her enactments and including impossible, even playful details that give more emphasis to what many commentators note as “charade.” There is both angst and humour – she is able to balance the two. But I did enjoy overhearing some of the comments and gasps that were made by fellow visitors. Art makes us think and reflect. Sending many hugs your way.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It absolutely does. and good for her for being unafraid in all she does. Many many hugs to you.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Ms Frances says:

    This is a very interesting take on a recent view of style, some of the photos are so characteristic of the things women wore at that time and still do!. I find it interesting that she was not scared to use herself as a model or take photos of herself for the outside world to see. Her comment about photographs is intriguing. I am glad that you were able to see her exhibition. I am sure this virus has made it hard to attend.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am very pleased I was able to see Cindy Sherman’s exhibition several times before it closed on March 8, 2020. The Art Gallery has reopened cautiously. Yes, the pandemic has changed the way we interact within our environment. Libraries, art galleries, museums, playhouses have had to redefine their delivery systems over the past months. They have done exceptional work and I admire all who have brought music, art, dance, poetry and books to our doorsteps.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ms Frances says:

        The Arts and other special Presences have made great and positive efforts in this difficult time.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Intriguing self-portraits, Rebecca!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      A perfect description – “intriguing”, Jennifer. I agree wholeheartedly. Interestingly, Cindy Sherman maintains that she doesn’t view her photography as self-portraits. Her thought – “People assume that a self-portrait is narcissistic and you’re trying to reveal something about yourself: fantasies or autobiographical information. In fact, none of my work is about me or my private life” – challenges me to see the world via the lens of the artist. I continue to learn and learn and learn…. Thank you for stopping by – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, I understood what she was trying to say about that. I don’t see it as narcissistic at all. Talent is talent, and I’m always interested in seeing different examples of self-expression, in any form. Thanks, Rebecca!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        I confess, the first time I saw the exhibition, I felt it WAS narcissistic. And then, I opened my mind to what was in front of me. Modern art has nuances that I am just beginning to understand and appreciate. Whenever I find myself dismissing an artwork, I remind myself with this question: “Would I have been like those people living in Monet’s time who criticized his paintings and considered all impressionists as radicals?” YIKES. I continue to learn and learn and learn!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I look at it this way: compare it to the performing arts. Is a singer or dancer or actor or musician a narcissist when the spotlight is on him or her? No, he or she is interpreting an art form. That’s how I see Cindy Sherman or anyone of her ilk. Oh my, yes, there is so much to learn, and to appreciate!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The photographs didn’t appear to be self-portraits to me, but rather theatre.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Paul Andruss says:

    I liked Cindy’s quote at the very end- appropriate given the times we are living through.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I agree, Paul – the quote was indeed perfect for our time. I’m so glad that you joined me for Cindy Sherman’s exhibition. While there were many background notations that accompanied the presentations, it was the stories embedded in the portraits that spoke to me and brought back images from my personal experience. It seemed to call for stories over stories, challenging me to think, to consider, to reflect.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Jean-Jacques says:

    Pardon my north-American vulgarity… but “WOW” what an extraordinary and non-usual artist, most exciting to say the least. She laughing good heartedly at our enjoyably enjoying human silliness.It truly says so of her quote “People are accustomed to being told what to believe in.” Again the appropriate vulgar WOW, if that is not the world mankind self-created, I am not on planet earth!
    Being one among the most silly earthlings, let me confirm undoubtedly that I love her work which speaks tons of truth. She and her artistic talent ‘bouleversant’ are to be forever fixed on my mind, ever so representative of what the Googles, Amazons, Facebook s, etc. have made of our world and for the most part, that mankind generation who mustl survive.
    I do love that Cindy Sherman…!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I knew you would love Cindy Sherman. Her photography drew me back for more than one visit, each time giving me an accelerated understanding of how she positions, angst, humour, horror, stories, symbolism, colour and visual stories, to “wake up” viewers. She does not hide from controversy as she transitions from series to series. Your poem “Emotions – held loopholes -“ says it best:

      “Emotions
      Held loopholes,
      Shape hyperbole
      For who venture,
      To cause disorder,
      In naive people’s soul.”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Your comment about what social media has made of our world is so on-point, Jean-Jacques.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ms Frances says:

    💕🌿🌷🌷🦋⚘🌹🌿💕

    Liked by 2 people

  11. J.D. Riso says:

    Beautiful quirky exhibition. And fabulous self-portrait of yourself! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I knew you would enjoy Cindy Sherman. She speaks her truth in a dramatic way, does she not? I read a July 2016 interview with The Guardian to better understand her artwork. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/03/cindy-sherman-interview-retrospective-motivation

      Liked by 3 people

  12. Resa says:

    This looks and feels close to heart for me.
    Glamorous Fantasy… almost and certainly. Not exactly, but I adore the take.
    Never heard of Cindy, so I thank you for this, Rebecca!
    {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I agree – “not exactly.” That is a perfect description , Resa! What seemed familiar to me, was “not exactly” what I thought it was at first glance. By the way, I checked on the AGO and found that Cindy was there in October 1999 – January 2, 2000. What an amazing way to begin a new year, century, millennium. It would be interesting to have seen this retrospective and then be able to compare this retrospective. Alas, we cannot be in two places at once!! https://ago.ca/exhibitions/cindy-sherman-retrospective. Sending hugs and more hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Resa says:

        Will check out the link, thank you!
        Yes, we cannot be in 2 places at once, unless we have figured out the secrets of the universe. Hugs + hugs + hugs!

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you for introducing me to the remarkable work of Cindy Sherman. I found most of the images quite disconcerting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am so glad that you joined me at the Vancouver Art Gallery! Yes – Cindy Sherman’s images were quite disconcerting. And there were some that I didn’t include that were even more disconcerting. I heard many comments from fellow visitors as they tried to understand the portraits – there was both angst and humour within each, which is something of a paradox when found together. Some things take time for me to understand, which is why I came back several times to the exhibition. The quote that came to mind during one visit was by Banksy: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m even more intrigued now. I wonder what kind of ekphrastic poetry her work might inspire.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        Oh Liz, a very good question. Check out this Guardian link for an excellent interview with Cindy Sherman. It gave me insights into how to view her artwork.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I just read the article. There is an awful lot behind her work . . .

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Clanmother says:

        I thought you would enjoy this one!!

        Liked by 2 people

  14. What a wonderful presentation, my dear Rebecca! Thank you so much! Many hugs and wishes for a beautiful day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      So glad you joined me at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Marina. Many hugs coming back. By the way, are you going to have a 2021 calendar?

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Carolyn Page says:

    Rather overwhelming, Rebecca, to think of this woman’s creativity. She was/is her own canvas, so to speak.
    I love her ability to view herself in different hues/dimensions. Not static, but, constantly changing; not upward or greater, but, radiating from a central hub.
    Fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you for you insightful comments. Very well said, Carolyn!!! I especially appreciated the idea of a “central hub” that speaks from the soul of our creative spirit. Your use of the word ‘’radiate” is brilliant. Cindy Sherman chose art, while other use poetry, writing, dance to explore the undiscovered. And think of the sciences … it goes on and on doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting work! And a nicely put together video.

    ✨☀️🙏🕉️♾️☮️🙏☀️✨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you for joining me, Graham. The greatest gift to me is that we have the ability to learn, to explore, to discover and to live boldly.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Mary Jo Malo says:

    Fascinating artist and definitely disturbing. She challenges so many of our assumptions that what we observe is authentic. There’s a certain playfulness, even mockery at times. She reflects the sort of juvenile “dress-up” we engage in as children and often as some adults in the age of endless “selfies.” She’s very creative. Thank you for bringing another exhibit to us, including yourself 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I agree, Mary Jo – Cindy Sherman is fascinating and her artworks creates angst within the viewer in the way she displays cultural values. As for selfies – I read in one article that “Google reports that its Android devices take 93 million selfies per day, and in one poll, 18-to-24-year-olds reported that every third photo they take is a selfie.” YIKES!! I’m glad that you enjoyed the exhibition. It seems like such a long time ago and so many things have happened since March. Sending hugs!!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. She seems like a truly amazing woman. I agree with her quote. Although I take it a step further (most) people aren’t just accustomed to being told what to believe in — they are dependent upon it. :/
    Here’s to continually learning, and to developing great critical thinking skills.
    A lovely exhibit, Rebecca. Thanks for bringing us along. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you for adding your insights, Teagan. What I found fascinating was Cindy Sherman’s ability to transition through the years, using the same format but creating entirely different stories. Some of her work is very difficult to view because she brings you into her world, and prompts an inner dialogue. The idea of redefining, reinventing and discovering ourselves are bordered by soft lines that are constantly in motion. We want to think for ourselves but the urge to belong is so strong within us. I love Marcus Aurelius’s thought on this, which confirms an universal theme: “I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” I read a few articles and note that Cindy’s childhood was difficult, which I believe is a factor in her strength of character. I’m so glad that you joined me – always enjoy your company. Hugs coming back with all speed.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. I had no idea who Sherman was and, after watching the video, did a little google searching. Then I watched the video again. A great post, Rebecca. Thanks for the fascinating journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you Diana, for joining me and for your comments which are very much appreciated. This afternoon, my sister Sarah and I were discussion about Angela Lee Duckwoth’s book “Grit” which is the “power and passion and perseverance” something that Cindy Sherman has given in her extraordinary focus on her artistic journey. I love art galleries – they remind me that we are all creative.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I love galleries too, and miss them this year. When I can begin traveling again, I have a long list of galleries to visit!

        Liked by 2 people

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