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Cindy Sherman Releases First New Work in 5 Years

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

There might be more anecdotes about Cindy Sherman than there are about any other living photographer, but perhaps the best one is Ira Glass’s account from an exhibition five years ago, when the artist released her last large body of work.

In the April 29, 2012 episode of This American Life, Glass remembers visiting a show of Sherman’s self-portraits at MoMA, when to his astonishment, he was approached by a woman claiming to be Sherman herself. Upon receiving the radio host’s query about whether or not they had indeed met at the exhibition, the photographer responded incredulously, “Not at all. Oh my god.” There’s even an accompanying webpage— “Listener Sightings of Cindy Sherman!”—in which other photography enthusiasts confess to having encountered more counterfeit Cindy Shermans.

Because Sherman has spent four decades becoming other women—or at least other female tropes—in her images, she remains on of the most elusive artistic figures of our time, prompting countless befuddled fans to ask again and again, “Who is Cindy Sherman, really?”

Critic Blake Gopnik of The New York Times thinks the answer lies in part within her latest body of work, on view now at Metro Pictures. Here, she personifies aging Hollywood starlets, mimicking the vernacular aesthetic of Golden Age publicity photographs. In doing so, suggests Gopnik, Sherman is confronting and unraveling her own relationship with growing older. In other words, she’s giving us a rare and intimate glimpse into her own anxiety and/or contentment about being a middle-aged women in a world that idealizes youth.

And Gopnik’s probably right; this work is in Sherman’s own words one of her most “personal.” Still, the magic of Sherman’s pictures has and always will lie in her chameleon form, her uncanny and unparalleled ability to shape shift and confound her fans. We never know if she’s playing tricks or being earnest, and in all likelihood, she’s doing both. A part of me, looking at these new pictures, thinks, “But surely, that can’t be the real Cindy Sherman,” and ultimately, that’s what makes them so darn good.

Cindy Sherman is on view until June 11, 2016 at Metro Pictures.

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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Untitled, 2016 © Cindy Sherman, Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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