Sunday, May 15, 2011

Questions about the Nature of Art

A spotlight shines on Cindy Sherman (1954), photographer, film director, model, whose untitled photograph (1981) sold for a record $3,890,500. In the photo she is portrayed as a "cashmere-clad ingénue, (stock character who is endearingly innocent and wholesome) seductively reclining with a crumpled personal ad in one hand."

"Through a number of different series of works, Sherman has raised challenging and important questions about the role and representation of women in society, the media and the nature of the creation of art.

Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress, and of course, model."

In her art, Sherman is both "revealed and hidden, named and nameless." She explained to the New York Times in 1990, "I feel I'm anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren't self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear."

So what's so special about a photo which achieved such an astronomical price? A former director of a modern art museum, says that mainly, it's a function of two people wanting the same thing:

"What matters to most of those collectors is winning. When art becomes a competitive sport, all it takes to win is the guts and the money to go further than anyone else, and then, voila, you win. And winning feels really good."

Sherman's work also reinforces the importance of pop artists who can "challenge tradition and convey that an artist's use of the mass-produced visual commodities of popular culture is contiguous with the perspective of fine art."