While viewing the work of Cindy Sherman at the Wellington City Gallery, I briefly sat in the back of the “Chanel” exhibit. I took a few moments to view the art lining the walls and the students who stood in front of them. Quiet chatter floated around the room as some shared their perspectives and thoughts, others wordlessly examined the photographs ahead of them. There where few people in that section of the gallery at that time. There was almost a peace in the room as everyone examined the work surrounding them.
As I sat observing the art and students, I noticed how quickly people moved from photograph to photograph. As part of past few weeks independent study, we read several articles and booklets. One Artsy article said, “the average time a person spends gandering at a piece in a museum is between 15 seconds and 30 seconds” (Isaac Kaplan, How Long Do You Need to Look at a Work of Art to Get It?). I know that I don’t spend as much time as I should viewing each piece but watching other students glide through the “Chanel” section I noticed how little time some spent analysing Cindy Sherman work. To fully appreciate and understand work we need to slow down, take a moment longer and look for the clues the artist has left for us. This short experienced helped me to slow down during the rest of the exhibition and really analyse Sherman’s pieces.
One of my favourite pieces in Sherman’s collection, was one from her “Society Portraits” Untitled #466. I have always been passionate about photography and particularly enjoyed Cindy Sherman’s style of portraiture.
On this image in particular after close analysis you can see small link painting a picture of the background to the character in the photo. The Wellington City Gallery lecturer mentioned that Cindy did everything with purpose meaning every detail of the image was important. In my opinion the tacky, pink plastic show just visible from under the elegant outfit leads the viewer to question the woman’s wealth. Is it only a facade? Is the azure gown just a front to make the observer believe this woman has everything? A small thread can be seen hanging from the garment (it may not be visible in the image above) which, to me is another link to the crumbling illusion the woman in the portrait tries to convey.
Cited Work List:
Kaplan, Isaac. “How Long Do You Need to Look at a Work of Art to Get It?” Artsy, 26 Jan 2017, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-long-work-art-it.