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Cindy Sherman: Retrospective

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


04 Jun 1999 to 30 Aug 1999

Guest Curators: Elizabeth A. T. Smith & Amada Cruz

About the exhibition

At the time of its creation this was the most comprehensive survey of Cindy Sherman’s work that had ever been assembled. Debuting in Los Angeles before touring globally, this 20 year survey chronicled the work of Sherman from the late 1970s, assessing the influence of this prolific artist and her work.

Sherman was part of a photographic movement which introduced mass-media formalism as a high-art technique. Through the use of pop culture imagery she explored the construction of female identity, creating staged and manipulated photographs. This motif exists in many of Sherman’s series including Untitled Film Stills (1977-80), Centerfolds (1981), Fashion (1983-84), Disasters (1986-89), Fairy Tales (1985), and History Portraits (1989-90).

This exhibition explored Sherman’s shift in the 1990s towards a pronounced articulation of the grotesque that recalls the memento mori of art historical tradition and functions as an ambiguous, yet mordant, social commentary. This shift is articulated in the series Sex Pictures (1992) and her investigations inspired by surrealist photography.

During the period that this retrospective considered, Cindy Sherman donned a myriad of masks and guises, moving from Untitled Film Stills to writing and directing a horror film, Office Killer (1996). Enmeshing the viewer in a complex and contradictory web of fantasy and reality, Sherman’s photographs collapse comfortable references and offer a shifting, fragmented portrayal of the self.

This exhibition was made possible in part by the generous support of Davis and Suzanne Saperstein, Genevieve and Ian Reitman, Jeanne C. Thayer and the Friends of MOCA.

Tour Itinerary

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, United States: 2 November 1997 – 1 February 1998
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, United States: 21 February – 31 May 1998
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic: 25 June – 13 September 1998
Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon, Portugal: 10 September – 13 December 1998
CAPC Musee d’art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France: 6 February – 25 April 1999
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada: 1 October 1999 – 2 January 2000