Cindy Sherman’s Instagram Account Goes Public, Revealing 600 New Photos & Many Strange Self-Portraits

The career of Jen­ny Holz­er, the artist who became famous in the 1970s and 80s through her pub­lic instal­la­tions of phras­es like “ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE” and “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT,” has made her into an ide­al Tweet­er. By the same token, the career of Cindy Sher­man, the artist who became famous in the 1970s and 80s through her inven­tive not-exact­ly-self-por­traits — pic­tures of her­self elab­o­rate­ly remade as a vari­ety of oth­er peo­ple, includ­ing oth­er famous peo­ple, in a vari­ety of time peri­ods — has made her into an ide­al Insta­gram­mer.

But though Sher­man had been using Insta­gram for quite some time, most of the pub­lic had no idea she had any pres­ence there at all until just this week. “The account, which mys­te­ri­ous­ly switched from pri­vate to pub­lic in recent months, is a mix of per­son­al pho­tos along­side Sherman’s ever-famous manip­u­lat­ed images of her­self,” reports Art­net’s Car­o­line Elbaor.

“What we see here is some­what of a depar­ture from the artist’s tra­di­tion­al mod­el: the frame is tighter and clos­er to her face, in what is clear use of a phone’s front-fac­ing cam­era. Plus, the sub­ject mat­ter is decid­ed­ly inti­mate in com­par­i­son to her usu­al work — the lat­est posts doc­u­ment a stay in the hos­pi­tal. She may even be hav­ing fun with fil­ters.”

She appar­ent­ly start­ed hav­ing fun with them a few months ago, from one May post whose pho­to she describes as “Self­ie! No fil­ter, haha­ha” — but in which she does seem to have made use of cer­tain effects to give the image a few of the suite of uncan­ny qual­i­ties in which she spe­cial­izes. Though not a mem­ber of the gen­er­a­tions the world most close­ly asso­ciates with avid self­ie-tak­ing, Sher­man brings a unique­ly rich expe­ri­ence with the form, or forms like it. Her “method of turn­ing the lens onto her­self is uncan­ni­ly appro­pri­ate to our times,” writes Elbaor,” in which the stage-man­aged self­ie has become so ubiq­ui­tous that it’s now fod­der for exhi­bi­tions and often cit­ed as an art form in itself.”

Sher­man’s Insta­gram self-por­trai­ture, in con­trast to the often (but not always) glam­orous pro­duc­tions that hung on the walls of her shows before, has entered fas­ci­nat­ing new realms of strange­ness and even grotes­querie. Using the image-mod­i­fi­ca­tion tools so many of us might pre­vi­ous­ly assumed were used only by teenage girls des­per­ate to erase their imag­ined flaws, Sher­man twists and bends her own fea­tures into what look like liv­ing car­toon char­ac­ters. “A bit scary,” one com­menter wrote of Sher­man’s recent hos­pi­tal-bed self­ie (tak­en while recov­er­ing from a fall from a horse), “but I can’t look away.” Many of the artist’s thou­sands and thou­sands of new and cap­ti­vat­ed Insta­gram fol­low­ers are sure­ly react­ing the same way. Check out Sher­man’s Insta­gram feed here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Say What You Real­ly Mean with Down­load­able Cindy Sher­man Emoti­cons

Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (MoMA) Launch­es Free Course on Look­ing at Pho­tographs as Art

See The First “Self­ie” In His­to­ry Tak­en by Robert Cor­nelius, a Philadel­phia Chemist, in 1839

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (5)
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  • Albert Johnson says:

    Looks like some of those pho­tos of celebri­ties who had their plas­tic surgery go wrong.

  • HR says:

    Only an enti­tled white Amer­i­can female artist can believe in their own mythol­o­gy so much that they’ve suc­cess­ful­ly con­vinced the mon­eyed art con­nois­seurs that their work is actu­al­ly rel­e­vant.

    This wom­an’s “work” is the epit­o­me of the self-absorbed art-about-me world view. I can’t believe I actu­al­ly live in a world where there hordes of peo­ple that would view these pho­tographs and see any­thing worth­while.

  • debra says:

    Sher­man’s work can be viewed as com­men­tary of our self obsessed cul­ture.

  • NUB says:

    Well at least there is the amus­ing thought of rich gullible fools and how they spend their mon­ey on crap like that, pat­ting each other’s shoul­ders, cel­e­brat­ing their taste. After that they go to a Jeff Koons show…

  • Karl Reitmann says:

    You can­not spell. You’re part of the dumb­ed-down soci­ety.

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