Cindy Sherman – National Portrait Gallery

It seems obvious that Cindy Sherman’s work has very little relation to Landscape, so has little connection to anything being taught/learnt on this particular course. Nevertheless there are some things worth mentioning.
Apart from a few such as ‘Untitled Film Stills’ and ‘Rear Screen Projections’, the idea of any sort of a background doesn’t seem relevant, and even then the background is just that – a means of highlighting the person at the centre of the image.

Like the identities she adopts for her work there is little attempt at hiding the artifice in any scenery. In some of the earlier work a real location may be used as the background but for the most part everything is constructed. She often depicts the background out of focus or otherwise altered. The scenery becomes deliberately ‘unreal’, to accentuate the unreality of the subject.
But without the subject the background scenery would generally be fairly banal; intentional in her case but perhaps irrelevant in terms of Landscape as a genre.

A more pertinent point of discussion may be the presentation itself. There is a playfulness about almost all of her work (although some are a lot darker than others). Much of her later work consists of large prints – not Gursky-sized but still pretty big – that do suggest they have been made to appear on a gallery wall. A chronological viewing direction is accentuated by the growing size of her works, from relatively small (12×10?) to what would be wall-fillers in a normal house. I found this a little distracting and having bought the accompanying book I find it less distracting to see all images at roughly the same size. It doesn’t seem to me that bigger is necessarily better – it just seems to be trying too hard to make it ‘Art’ (with a capital ‘A’) when it is already really good art (small ‘a’).

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