Friday, October 12, 2012

Cindy Sherman Does Closets

Cindy Sherman (Cynthia Morris Sherman), Untitled #405, 2000, color photograph
Periodically I organize my clothes closet which is what I'm doing at home at the moment.  In the outside world, I've been giving tours of the current SFMOMACindy Sherman retrospective before the museum closes for its major expansion.  
Sherman, an American photographer, film director and winner of prestigious awards like the Hasselblad Award and MacArthur Fellowship, has long been in the business of exposing human artifice.  Her conceptual portraits reveal more about her subject (often herself in many guises) than the person intended.  In enormous, close-up glossy we see too much make-up actually calling attention to the wrinkles it was intended to hide.  We see the anxiety behind the smiles, the striving in the choice of hairdo or blouse. The subtle omnipresence of decay, ugliness even horror that life entails, the aspects of life the sitter is attempting to belie, are right there.  It's sad.
It is also jarring; there's is something hard to reconcile between organizing your wardrobe/closets/look and going to a Cindy Sherman retrospective. In spite of all that Sherman exposes and that we take in about her portratis, we, in our real lives must put on a look, if, for no other reason than there are laws about how much we can expose ourselves in public.  Most of us, I at least, strive for an appearance that expresses myself in the moment (or at least the season or the year).  It seems to me to be necessary artifice.  But if we integrate Sherman's reveals into our efforts, the caution is not to make too much of our look, not to confuse our representations with our true identities.  (Tall order).

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2010/2012; color photograph; 24 x 34 3/4 in.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living Art

Art lives.  In so many ways.  Thousands of years after it has been created new discoveries are made that increase our understanding of it or that unearth it for the first time since it was hidden by conquered people.  Or...?  Life and history are always intersecting with art and vice versa.

And art lives in the sense that it arose from a certain time, place, society, artist, so it is inextricably bound to and informative about its history.

And art lives in the viewer where it is a constant impetus for growth - pushing at the viewer to expand his or her horizons.  And at this particular writer, who often calls herself Ciwt, to begin a new blog dedicated to Living Art.

Ciwt's main credential is her love or - or actually initially - fascination with art.  It began in earnest when she went with her parents to a large party in the town where she grew up. It was given by a man for the purposes of showing off the new wing of his house - which in fact was an art gallery.  In his home!?  Ciwt - at age 14 or so - had never heard of such a thing.  And it seemed marvelous!

She wanted to do something like that some day.  Not exactly like him because this was a very wealthy man who as it turns out was one of the first trustees of the Museum of Modern Art.  But something in Ciwt was kindled, so she asked the man.  "How do you put together an art collection?" And he answered "Buy something. That's where it begins.  Just buy something."

A few years later Ciwt did just that, and she studied History of Art in college, and she devoured the art in galleries and museums in New York and Washington, DC after college.  That was many years ago, and both the buying/collecting and learning have continued to be life-long pursuits at the center of her life.

She also was an art professional for a decade or so.  She managed several art galleries, advised individuals and companies about their collections, reviewed art in newspapers and magazines and wrote about it for herself and others who wanted books or articles about their art collections.

Art lives in Ciwt and Ciwt in many ways lives for art which is a very demanding task master.  So vast is art that it is ultimately unattainable and uncontainable.  You simply cannot know it all - or even all about one piece.  There's the necessary humility, but also the siren song.

So now let her invite you to accompany her on her living journey into the vast world of art.

   Related image