Critics’ Picks

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #576, 2016, dye sublimation metal print, 49 x 43".

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #576, 2016, dye sublimation metal print, 49 x 43".


Cindy Sherman

Sprüth Magers | Berlin
Oranienburger Straße 18
January 27–April 8, 2017

In her sixteenth solo exhibition with the gallery, Cindy Sherman presents twenty large-scale self-portraits that evoke cinematic portrayals of women tortured by aging while demonstrating how women once wore their age with elegance, confidence, and chutzpah.

The artist is known for spotlighting the limited options available to women via her personification of female stereotypes. Her work is poignant because it seems simultaneously intimate and generalized in its exploration of how identity can cause profound anxiety. Aging and society’s scorn for older women has become the artist’s principal topic since 2008, and the anachronistic styling in this current series, from 2016, draws attention to society’s lack of progress in its perception of mature women. The world surrounding the subjects in these photos is unstable, with Sherman mostly shown posed against ominous and discordant, blurry backgrounds. The fuzzy silhouettes of Manhattan’s skyline or hazy, lush gardens appear out of focus, projected on screens behind her, but heavy makeup and sensual costumes made of sequins, velvet, beads, and silk appear in high-definition. To undercut some of her characters’ attempts at masking their age with cosmetics or girlish poses, like the seasoned starlet in Untitled #570 who sports ringlets and an imploring smile, the artist directs attention to timeworn hands with eye-grabbing costume jewelry and manicures.

In Untitled #576, Sherman wears baby-pink leather opera gloves and a pink shearling wrap. Yet her reserved expression and proper demeanor in front of a snowy backdrop reminds one of elegant, polished ladies. By honing her focus on such a constrictive subject, the artist demonstrates how women both internalize and transcend society’s judgment.