Friday, January 19, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Cindy Sherman

Happy Birthday, Cindy Sherman! As her birthday this year has fallen on Arty Farty Friday, I'm re-airing a post I wrote about her work in May of 2010.

It was tricky finding a photograph of the real Cindy Sherman, which is odd really, because almost all her best-known photographs feature just....herself. Having studied many pages of her photographs, on-line, I'm left with an impression of her as the Tracy Ullman of photography - or maybe it should be the other way around....Tracy is the Cindy Sherman of comedy? Either way, they both present themselves as caricatures or satirical images of cultural archetypes or stereotypes.

Cindy Sherman, in costume and makeup, portrays images of the female sex in all their glory or ignominy, spotlighting their foibles, conceits and human frailties. A series of black and white photographs in the style of film stills from the 1950s was a feature of her early work. More recently she concentrates on American female stereotypes. Some of her photo-portraits seem, on first sight, overly harsh, bitchy and unnecessarily cruel - but then life's like that! There is underlying social comment here I guess - but without much trace of compassion or empathy.

Before I looked at her birth data and natal chart I was expecting to find evidence of a self-centered personality. After all, her main body of work depicts only herself, albeit in many guises. Perhaps there'll be some close alignment to Sun or Moon by Uranus, planet of the unexpected and weird, or of Neptune representing photography, creativity and illusion.

Cindy Sherman was born on 19 January 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey at 4:27 AM (Astrodatabank).

Sun conjunct Venus in the last degrees of Capricorn conjunct Mercury in first degrees of Aquarius, with Uranus in opposition from Cancer. Here we have weird old Uranus's involvement! Moon in early Leo also opposes Sun/Venus/Mercury. Neptune, planet of photography and illusion is in square aspect to the Sun Capricorn/Aquarius cluster. Both opposition and square aspects are thought to be challenging rather than helpful. Initially this might be thought to be a poor fit here, yet these hard aspects and challenges could well account for the overly harsh treatment Sherman gives to her portraiture. Furthermore, Mars and Saturn in Scorpio (a harsh trio if ever I saw one)could well reflect a lack of compassion I see in her work.

Sun (essence of self)forming an axis with Moon (inner self) represents her seeming need to "use" herself in her work. I'd have expected either Sun or Moon to have been nearer to an angle though. Sun is in 2nd house, the house of earnings and possessions. Her work does command record prices - a Sherman "movie still" sold for $2.1 million (Christie's, 2007). Amazing!

Sagittarius was rising as Sherman was born - no planets close to the ascendant though, but Jupiter in Gemini is on the opposite angle, the descendant, giving it extra significance in her chart and her nature. Jupiter represents exaggeration, Gemini = communication of all types, so her urge to portray exaggerated portraits for public consumption fits this placement well.

“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.”

“I didn’t want to make ‘high’ art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”

— Cindy Sherman

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