The Broad’s first special exhibition, “Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life”, opens June 11, 2016 and will feature more than 120 works by the groundbreaking artist, including works never before seen in Los Angeles and large-scale site-specific wall murals.
The first major museum show of Sherman’s work in Los Angeles since 1997, the comprehensive survey is drawn primarily from the Broad collection, which has the world’s largest holdings of the artist’s work, with select loans from the artist and museums around the country. Organized by guest curator Philipp Kaiser and presented in the home city of the filmmaking industry, the exhibition showcases Sherman’s engagement with 20th century popular film and celebrity, drawing on cinema’s role in the shaping of identity and stereotypes.
The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 2, fills the museum’s first-floor galleries with an expansive representation of Sherman’s photographs from her four-decade career, spanning from 1975 to works completed this year. Playing a central conceptual role in the show are Sherman’s widely known Untitled Film Stills, in which the artist poses as her own model in a variety of nostalgic yet rigorously conceived scenes reminiscent of B-movies of the 1950s and 60s. The exhibition highlights other major photographic series by the artist, including the centerfolds (1981), the fairy tales (1985), the history portraits (1989–90), the sex pictures (1992) and her clown pictures (2003–04). Also included is Office Killer, the 1997 comedy-horror feature film directed by the artist. Bookending the exhibition are major examples of Sherman’s connection to film. The exhibition opens with two massive full-wall murals—newly conceived by the artist for this exhibition—that reimagine Sherman’s 1980 rear-screen projection photographs, which were inspired by techniques and archetypes in midcentury cinema. The show closes with new photographs produced this year and never before seen in Los Angeles that focus on 1920s film publicity photos of aging starlets.
Sherman’s pioneering work combines photography and performance art. The artist is featured in nearly every work, depicting a range of media-influenced female stereotypes and personas, environments and guises. Shooting alone in her studio, Sherman serves as makeup-up artist, hairstylist, model, director and photographer. Her decades-long performative practice has produced many of contemporary art’s most iconic and influential images. Through her works, Sherman raises powerful questions about identity, representation and the role of images in contemporary culture. From screen siren and pin-up to socialite and businesswoman, the roles Sherman depicts through her monumental body of work provocatively engage with contemporary life’s mediated personas and stereotypes, drawing not only from art history but also from the histories of advertising, cinema and media.
Guest curator Philipp Kaiser has assembled a comprehensive survey of Sherman’s entire career, drawing works primarily from the Broad collection with key contributions from Metro Pictures; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Menil Collection; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Kaiser is an independent curator, writer and teacher who previously served as the director of the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and has held curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Museum for Contemporary Art, Basel. He has organized large-scale exhibitions on art of the 1980s, Land Art, California Conceptualism and many individual presentations of artists’ work including Jack Goldstein, Bruce Nauman and Louise Lawler, among others.