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Museum of Cycladic Art ‘Cindy Sherman at Cycladic: Early Works’ May 30-Nov. 4

ATHENS – The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens presents ‘Cindy Sherman at Cycladic: Early Works,’ the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in Greece, May 30-November 4. This major exhibition brings together more than 100 works, offering a comprehensive view into Sherman’s ground-breaking and influential early series exploring how women are imaged in popular culture, including Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980), Rear Screen Projections (1980), Centerfolds (1981) and Color Studies (1981-1982). Rolex is the exhibition’s main sponsor.

Sherman’s intersection of photography and performance in the late 1970s established her as an artistic pioneer. Working alone in her studio, she took on the roles of makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist and director, and transformed herself into the various characters depicted in her photography. Appropriating female images and stereotypes in television, film and advertising – such as the femme-fatale, career girl and housewife – Sherman’s work offers a critique of traditional gender roles and identity.

On display is the entirety of Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980) series. Consisting of 70 black-and-white photographs, Untitled Film Stills began after Sherman moved to New York City in 1977, aged 23. Inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, B movies and European art-house films, Sherman created images suggestive of the production stills used by movie studios to publicize their films. The images, reminiscent of certain character types and genres, initiated conversations about gender roles, feminism and representation, remaining always intentionally ambiguous and open to interpretations.

In 1980, Sherman turned to color photography to create Rear Screen Projections. Incorporating a technique often used by Alfred Hitchcock, she posed in her studio in front of a large screen, onto which images of various sites were projected. In this way, she gained more control over the final image while extending her dialogue with cinema. The resulting images, in which she continues assuming the role of the model, blur the lines of reality and artifice.

A year later, Artforum commissioned Sherman to create a series for the magazine, which led to Centerfolds (1981). Referencing erotic images found in men’s magazines at the time, this body of work challenged the popular way of consuming images of women, drawing attention to the voyeuristic gaze of the viewer. Even though the magazine never published these photos for fear of public backlash, these are one of Sherman’s most famous series of works.

In the large-scale vertical works of Color Studies (1981-1982), Sherman photographed herself looking directly at the camera, and by extension, at the viewer. As she continued to play with the constructed nature of images of women, her experimentation with color and shadow is prominent. These are, again, invented images that bring to the foreground the fragile boundaries between what is real and what is artificial, covering and revealing the subjects of her shots through shadow and light.

The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens presents ‘Cindy Sherman at Cycladic: Early Works,’ the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in Greece, May 30-November 4. Photo: Paris Tavitian/ Museum of Cycladic Art

Throughout the exhibition, a 20-minute segment on Cindy Sherman from the film ‘Transformation,’ a 2009 Art21 production, will be screened. The segment surveys some of her untitled works and the creative process she has been following for more than 40 years.

Cindy Sherman and Cycladic Art

The presence of Sherman’s works under the same roof as the Museum’s renowned collection of Cycladic art, one of the most complete private collections in the world, creates a link with the famous marble female figurines of the 3rd millennium BC, which dominate Cycladic art and have influenced the work of many 20th and 21st century artists. According to most scholars, these figurines represent the great mother-goddess of fertility and rebirth, the goddess who, over the years, changed her form as women did, assuming different and multiple roles. Roles that have been differentiated and redefined and contested; roles that have led to conflicts but which have always remained fundamental to the place of women, from antiquity to the present day.

‘Cindy Sherman at Cycladic: Early Works’ reveals and deconstructs women’s roles and stereotypes, questioning how the representation of women has evolved over time, how societal expectations have changed and been contested, and how art can shape and challenge cultural perceptions.

Alongside the Cindy Sherman exhibition, in the Neophytou Douka Wing an archaeological exhibition of small scale will be presented, entitled ‘The Multifaceted Roles of Women in Antiquity: Through the Permanent Exhibitions of the Museum of Cycladic Art.’ The exhibition focuses on the multidimensional and multifaceted roles of women in antiquity as recorded through the artifacts of the Museum’s permanent exhibitions. On display will be nine characteristic objects from the Museum’s collections in relation to women, dating from the beginnings of the prehistory of the Cyclades to the Hellenistic period: Marble Cycladic figurines, clay ‘Tanagra women’ or Cypriot priestesses, together with two-dimensional goddesses on vases offer an excellent background on which to examine the timeless female form. A short film highlighting the multifaceted and constantly evolving position of women in antiquity in which selected antiquities narrate the multiple roles of women will also be screened.

More information is available online: https://shorturl.at/aa4AI

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