What I like most about Sherman’s body of work is her ability to meld disciplines and recreate herself time and time again. Her rise to fame in the late seventies came by way of her Untitled Film Stills series in which she made photographic portraits of herself in settings and costumes that look as if they were still shots from films made in the 40’s or 50’s.
Often movies are debased as not having as much artistic merit as fine art, through that first series of hers I think she easily discounts that notion. Her style continued in that way, with labored sets and heavy use of make-up and costumes to make her portraits look as if someone pressed pause while watching a movie. I love this quality because it feels so surreal, you expect the image to move as if it’s a film, and when it doesn’t it’s a bit unsettling. The unsettling factor has been pushed to an extreme in recent years as she’s glommed on make-up and adored herself to look like various Joan River clones that’ve had botched plastic surgery jobs.
Sherman’s chameleon like effort is also somewhat rare because it’s put her in the spotlight of her own work throughout her career. Her ability to transform from one shoot to another is reminiscent of some bygone era when a sideshow might feature a man who could transform his appearance to almost any way he’d like.
Be sure to check out this expansive gallery if you’re in NYC as it runs til mid June 2012