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Cindy Sherman’s newly public Instagram is a surprise, 600-piece online exhibit

Cindy Sherman’s newly public Instagram is a surprise, 600-piece online exhibit


Free art show today, folks!

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Photo: Cindy Sherman / Instagram

Originally noticed by Artnet, photographer Cindy Sherman suddenly has a public Instagram account with hundreds of posts. For fans of the photographer, it’s kind of like a surprise show of new material.

The account has been active, but private, since October of last year. In the 590 images posted to the account, Sherman dabbles with some standard, banal Instagram behaviors like food photography, short videos of wild animals, and throwback Mother’s Day pics. Those photos, and the ones of Sherman’s pet macaw, a Katy Perry concert, and some New Jersey Fourth of July fireworks could fit it on basically any Instagram account.

But they’re mixed in with what appears to be new work from the 63-year-old artist, who made her name as an actress and model before kicking off a 40-year photography career pulling apart the male gaze, Western self-presentation, and the influence of pop culture on self-image. She’s best known for her self-portraits, which often involve over-the-top costumes and makeup and elaborate distortions that render her face unrecognizable.

On her Instagram, she’s tooling around with stickers; fish-eye effects; bad, computer-generated makeup; lens flares; garish Photoshop with the general effect of a Snapchat filter; and, as is her habit, plenty of wigs. The wigs in these images seem to be added mostly digitally.

Scrolling through, you might notice well-wishes and personal comments from Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall, fellow famed pop artist and photographer Marilyn Minter, and singer Jenni Maulder, among other huge names from the New York art world. Intentional or not, Sherman’s created another one of those seductively visible yet obviously impenetrable “Super Cool” Instagram social circles. She hasn’t given any comment on the choice to make the account public yet, or whether it constitutes a new project with specific aims. But for an artist so concerned with the demands that Western culture puts on faces, and the premium it puts on attention, it seems like a fitting platform.

In a New York Times profile last year, Sherman hinted that she might move away from still photography and into film, saying, “I’m so sick of using myself, how much more can I try to change myself?” Obviously she’s found at least a few answers to that question.

The profile’s author, Blake Gopnik, also wrote at the time, “The deliberate shape-shifting that goes on in an Instagram selfie stream has roots in the infiltration of Shermanalia into our culture.” If anything, it’s odd that it took so long for us to see Sherman on a platform that, by nature, takes everything she’s ever cared about to such an extreme.