Cindy Sherman At The National Portrait Gallery

Young woman looking at a Cindy Sherman photograph.

Tamara and I went to see the Cindy Sherman exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London a couple of days ago.

I have know Sherman’s photographs for a long time. She is one of my photographer ‘greats’. I like one of her early photographs because of the untold story. A young woman seen from behind, blonde, neat hair, wearing a longish skirt to mid calf, standing next to her suitcase on the side of a country road, early evening or early morning – still quite dark.

The hands behind her back say something, as does the set of her shoulders and the white bobby socks.

Who is she waiting for? Anything is possible. The narrative is there, we just don’t know what it is. But, there is definitely a narrative.

The woman in the photo is Cindy Sherman, and one defining description of Sherman’s work is that she uses herself as the model in all her photos. And she is really good at posing her body and adjusting her expression to represent what she intends.

There were several Sherman’s quotes in the exhibition – about her dislike of the artifice and false promise of fashion and the destructive influence of trying to live up to roles, using beauty, wealth, power, as props.

One room, of recent work – of women hanging on to life with the trappings of wealth and hope, were strong – huge photos in deep, rich colour. Sad, and threatening – people hanging on to things with a steely grasp or a doomed hope.

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