Cindy Sherman: A Kaleidoscope of Identities

Cindy Sherman: A Kaleidoscope of Identities
If I had planned on leaving the Cindy Sherman retrospective at Fondation Louis Vuitton feeling like I knew the artist better, I was in for a surprise: Her uncanny ability to transform herself (in age, race, and even gender) left me totally disoriented. Born in Long Island to a middle-class family, Sherman says she never felt at ease in her own skin. The wide age gap with four older siblings left her with the impression of being “the odd one out”. She turned to dressing up at a very young age, attempting to fit in. Cindy Sherman at Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photo © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong This insecurity shows in the first black-and-white pictures included in the retrospective, from 1977-80, where she turns into a myriad different female characters, finding inspiration for her impersonations in TV programs, horror movies and even mail-order catalogues. Upon moving to New York City in the 1980s and reaching her artistic maturity, she started experimenting with larger formats, in color. Her dressing up became more and more refined, and she started playing with prosthetics, which allowed her a greater range of impersonation. While she kept drawing inspiration from cinema, other, more controversial topics surfaced: pornography, cross-dressing, violence. Cindy Sherman at Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photo © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong The vibrant colors and the technical prowess in her works are outstanding, and produce magazine-worthy shots. Sherman is a consummate actor, her facial expressions often even more evocative than the elaborate disguises she is wearing. And yet, in this section of the exhibition, I sensed that I was making her stories mine, projecting my own emotions, as if it were a mirror I was looking at, instead of yet another portrait of the artist. The portraits of waning beauties are my favorites. Now in her 60s, Sherman does not need prosthetics to look older: the wrinkles we see are her own and her heroines look worse for wear, as if life had dealt them one too many blows. In an age when we as women are pushed to never look our age, it is reassuring (at least for me, who just turned the half-century mark) to see the artist proudly put it on display. In the 1990s, ill at ease with her newfound stardom, in a radical U-turn, Sherman embarked on still-lifes featuring all kind of grotesque or downright revolting objects. Cindy Sherman at Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photo © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

Lead photo credit : Cindy Sherman at Fondation Louis Vuitton. Photo © Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

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Sarah Bartesaghi Truong has lived, studied and worked in Milan, Paris and London. Her lifelong passion for art in all its forms and her entrepreneurial dreams were the catalyst for a career change: she left the world of investment banking to go back to school, at the Sotheby’s Institute of London. Ten years ago, she moved back to Paris, the ideal location for an art-lover. As an Italian in Paris, she decided she would keep playing the tourist in her adoptive home town, always on the lookout for the many wonders the French capital has to offer to the curious explorer. VeniVidiParis, the company she founded, plans curated itineraries in the French capital and its vicinity for travellers wishing to discover the city’s vibrant art scene, but not only. Take a look at her recent discoveries on her Instagram feed, @venividiparis, or contact her at [email protected] for help planning your next Parisian vacation.