A Play of Selves
May 23 – June 15, 2007
Opening: Wednesday, May 23, 6-8pm

“A Play of Selves / Act 2-Scene 2”, 1975
black and white photograph mounted on board
45 x 38.1 cm
© Cindy Sherman

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to exhibit ‘A Play of Selves,’ Cindy Sherman’s seminal work from 1975 at their Grafton Street gallery in London.

In the introduction to the recently published catalogue for ‘A Play of Selves’ (Hatje Cantz, 2007), Sherman states: “This is the only work I’ve ever done that was consciously autobiographical.”

American photographer and film-maker Cindy Sherman, born 1954 in New Jersey is known for her conceptual self-portraits in which she fully transforms herself into different personas with the use of make-up, costumes, play acting and even prosthesis. Sherman’s work questions visual representation by addressing the false naturalness of photography, in particular the images of women which are promoted by mass culture such as movies, television and magazines as reality. Some of her most important series of works include “Untitled Film Stills” (1977-1980), “Centerfolds” (1982), “Disasters” (1986-1989), “History Portraits/Old Masters” (1988-1990) “Sex Pictures” (1992), and “Clowns” (2003-2004).

‘A Play of Selves’ comprises 72 photographic assemblages which Cindy Sherman cut out of black and white prints in 1975 during her last college year in Buffalo, New York, and marks one of the first uses of herself as a subject in staged photographs. Having originally used the cut-out figures for an animated film (‘Doll Clothes,’ 1976) she soon realized that the figures could interact with each other. A film script developed, the story of a young woman overwhelmed by various alter-egos working at odds with her and her final conquering of self-doubt, played out in four acts and a finale with 16 separate characters. The scenes incorporate the allegoric figures ‘Madness,’ ‘Vanity,’ ‘Agony’ and ‘Desire’ that evoke the conflicting aspects of the female protagonist, which appears in different situations as ‘Broken Woman,’ ‘The Actual Main Character’ and ‘The Character as Others see Her.’ Only at the end does ‘Broken Women’ become the ‘Actual Main Character.’

Cindy Sherman lives and works in New York City. Since the 1980’s, her work has been collected by major private and institutional collections worldwide. Most recently, a large-scale retrospective organized by the Jeu de Paume, Paris travelled to Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria and is currently on view at the Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst, Denmark until May 20, concluding at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany (15 June – 17 September 2007).

‘A Play of Selves’ will be on view at Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers, 7A Grafton Street, from May 23, 2007 through June 15, 2007. Opening Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm and by appointment.

  • Sprueth Magers
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