Cindy Sherman, Untitled #474 (2008), chromogenic color print, 90-3/4″ x 60″; courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures

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If your idea of a good time–or, at least, of art–is watching someone pretend to pretend, then you’ll be gladdened by the news that New York’s Museum of Modern Art will be mounting a full-scale retrospective of work by Cindy Sherman in February 2012.

The museum tells us that Sherman is “arguably the most influential artist working exclusively with photography” and that her oeuvre is “the unchallenged cornerstone of Post-Modern photography.” Makes you wonder: how unchallenged can it be if Sherman’s influence is still being argued?

As someone who finds Sherman’s early B-movie ingenue photos clever-but-not-more and all her subsequent pictures gratuitous-and-not-less, I’ll argue that Post-Modernism is what happens when mildly talented artists with limited imaginations become enamored of their own specious intellectualizing. Careerist nihilism is invariably disagreeable (witness the Met’s The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984) and usually condescending. Whether Sherman’s art holds any surprises will have to be seen next year.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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  • Gabrielle Jones  On February 19, 2011 at 4: 39 pm

    Go, Mario!

    I find Cindy’s work interesting on first acquaintance, then repetitive after that. When the viewer inevitably asks the question “So what?”, then you know it’s not art. I agree with your comment about “specious intellectualizing” and wish the art world would use its eyes and emotions more and leave the left-brained activities (including talking up their own brilliance) for solving sudoku puzzles or something more interesting than what some participants call art.

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