Cindy Sherman / United States b.1954 / Untitled #462 2007–08 / Chromogenic colour print / 158.6 x 177.8 cm / Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #462 2007–2008

Not Currently on Display

The two faces in Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #462 can be read as a duo among a cast of a multitude of personalities that have been portrayed by the artist, through staging herself within her own compositions. The artist is the model upon which she modifies her face and body. Sherman’s photographic practice utilitises make-up, costumes, wigs, prostheses and, in recent years has embraced digital software.

Untitled #462 is part of a series that Sherman developed during an collaboration with fashion house Balenciaga. There is an intentionally subversive quality to the artist’s interplay with fashion world. Here two chic ladies pose as though responding to the attentive camera of an event photographer at an art opening. The image carries a pervasive sense that great time and money have been invested into being seen within a scene.

Cindy Sherman is renowned as a chameleon; her own image is at the centre of an astonishing array of character studies, developed over decades. Through her articulate and incisive practice, Sherman has positioned photography as an important contemporary art form by expanding on society’s fascination with appearance, narcissism, aspirational culture, emotional fragility and the cult of celebrity.

She is widely recognised as the most significant artist to have emerged from the ‘Pictures generation’ in New York in the late 1970s, and she continues to influence a new generation of artists. By focusing on Sherman’s work of the past 16 years, this exhibition offers an insight into the artist’s transition to digital photography.

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think Sherman chooses not to title her work?

2. Imagine the lifestyles of each of these women. What is the nature of their relationship?

3. How does the combination of clothing, hair and make-up send a signal of social status?

Activities

Become a caricature by photographing yourself living the life of someone else. Are you someone who knows one of the women in Sherman’s work? Did you help them prepare for the event or were you introduced to them that night? Construct your identity within a relevant setting by using the same techniques as Sherman — clothing, make-up, lighting, Photoshop, gesture, props and facial expression.