The Spring 2016 1 Year Photography class from New York Film Academy Los Angeles traveled to the Broad Museum in downtown LA recently to specifically see the large Cindy Sherman retrospective that the museum is exhibiting. This retrospective, “Imitation of Life,” is a range of work she created during the beginning of her career while still living in Buffalo, New York. Of course, they also showed Untitled Film Stills and then more mid-career work like the History series. They also displayed some of her work in the lines of the grotesque and several large prints of work that was created this year.
Overall, the exhibition laid out not just her 40 year career but, because she is so influential, it also touches upon many of the issues that have dominated the arts, particularly in photography, during that period. Sherman is considered a practitioner in the post-modern Pictures generation and her work nudges on themes of feminism, horror, appropriation (of cinema), cinema as a widespread contemporary language, and horror including the grotesque. Because her work is self-portraiture and follows the entirety of her adult life, it illustrates a more personal practice and is increasingly engaged with aging.
Students had plenty of time to peruse the exhibition. They were also able to check out the permanent Broad collection upstairs. The students were genuinely impressed, particularly on a technical level.
One student said that he felt seeing the work was more exciting than seeing the Broad’s permanent collection (even the though the permanent collection has Warhols). They said the Cindy Sherman show seemed “more contemporary.” All the students commented that they found it very satisfactory to see the work in person rather than on a screen, especially since some of the work was so large.
They were surprised that Cindy Sherman is the photographer, director, make-up artist, hairstylist and the subject in all her work. Cindy works alone and the students were more than impressed, they were inspired.