Friday, October 22, 2010
NEW ARRIVALS: Cindy Sherman & Nan Goldin
The Complete Untitled Film Stills, Hardcover
"Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, a series of 69 black-and-white photographs created between 1977 and 1980, is widely seen as one of the most original and influential achievements in recent art. Witty, provocative and searching, this lively catalogue of female roles inspired by the movies crystallizes widespread concerns in our culture, examining the ways we shape our personal identities and the role of the mass media in our lives. Sherman began making these pictures in 1977 when she was 23 years old. The first six were an experiment: fan-magazine glimpses into the life (or roles) of an imaginary blond actress, played by Sherman herself. The photographs look like movie stills--or perhaps publicity pix--purporting to catch the blond bombshell in unguarded moments at home. The protagonist is shown preening in the kitchen and lounging in the bedroom. Onto something big, Sherman tried other characters in other roles: the chic starlet at her seaside hideaway, the luscious librarian, the domesticated sex kitten, the hot-blooded woman of the people, the ice-cold sophisticate and a can-can line of other stereotypes. She eventually completed the series in 1980. She stopped, she has explained, when she ran out of clichés.
Other artists had drawn upon popular culture but Sherman's strategy was new. For her the pop-culture image was not a subject (as it had been for Walker Evans) or raw material (as it had been for Andy Warhol) but a whole artistic vocabulary, ready-made. Her film stills look and function just like the real ones--those 8 x 10 glossies designed to lure us into a drama we find all the more compelling because we know it isn't real. In the Untitled Film Stills there are no Cleopatras, no ladies on trains, no women of a certain age. There are, of course, no men. The 69 solitary heroines map a particular constellation of fictional femininity that took hold in postwar America--the period of Sherman's youth and the starting point for our contemporary mythology. In finding a form for her own sensibility, Sherman touched a sensitive nerve in the culture at large. Although most of the characters are invented, we sense right away that we already know them. That twinge of instant recognition is what makes the series tick and it arises from Cindy Sherman's uncanny poise. There is no wink at the viewer, no open irony, no camp.
In 1995, The Museum of Modern Art purchased the series from the artist, preserving the work in its entirety. This book marks the first time that the complete series is published as a unified work, with Sherman herself arranging the pictures in sequence."
The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency, Paperback
"A photobook classic, and perhaps the work for which New York photographer Nan Goldin remains best known, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggle for intimacy and understanding between friends and lovers collectively described by Goldin as her “tribe.” Her work describes a late 1970s/early 1980s New York now long gone, and a world that is visceral and seething with life. As Goldin writes: “Real memory, which these pictures trigger, is an invocation of the color, smell, sound, and physical presence, the density and flavor of life.”
Cindy Sherman: A Play Of Selves, Hardcover
It was in the mid-70s that Cindy Sherman began making her earliest works, in which she explored various manipulations of her own persona. She began by experimenting with makeup and costumes, getting dressed up for parties and surprising her friends. She then moved on to photograph herself in the various personas she had created, producing highly inventive but somewhat more primitive versions of the seminal work for which she would later become known, the Untitled Film Stills series. It was during this early period that Sherman created A Play of Selves--a visual tale of a young woman overwhelmed by various alter-egos that compete inside of her, and her final conquering of self-doubt. Acted out with 16 separate characters, these 72 photographic assemblages mark Sherman's earliest explorations of herself-as-subject in a series of staged photographs. Published here for the first time, these photographs include hundreds of shots of the artist costumed as various characters in dozens of poses. Organized in a four-act "play" with an elaborate, handwritten script, the individual images were cut by the artist from original black-and-white prints. Preface by Cindy Sherman.
Cindy Sherman: Working Girl, Paperback
"When curators at Saint Louis's Contemporary Art Museum asked Cindy Sherman whether there was a moment in her career whose resonance might be underappreciated, one around which she might like to develop an exhibit and a book, she selected her earliest adult creative years, beginning while she was still a student at Buffalo State College in the mid-1970s. Working Girl is full of rarely seen pieces, and it features, for the first time, documentation of and stills from Sherman's 1975 animated short Doll Clothes, which is among the pieces that bring Sherman's early exploration of gender and identity into focus. The mostly small-scale work, including many early black-and-white, hand-colored, and sepia-toned photographs, is culled primarily from the artist's family members' collections and her own, and includes the pieces that laid the groundwork for her first major success, the acclaimed Film Stills series. Working Girl is a unique glimpse into the early development of Sherman's artistic practice, and into the genesis of her inimitable substance and style. It illuminates her conceptual approach to photography and foretells the career that would be launched in the late 1970s, positioning her as one of the most significant artists of our time."
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