John Grande, an artist and former printer for Annie Liebovitz and Jack Pierson, among other well-known photographers, has made a series of paintings based on Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. Actually, they’re more than just “based on,” from what I can tell — they’re painted versions of Sherman’s photographs that seem to exist solely under the auspices of posing these questions (which I’ve lifted from a blurb on his gallery’s website):

“What if Sherman had been a male painter producing the same images on large scale canvasses from the beginning? How would this have affected her acceptance in the art world and the market value of her work? And what happens when a third party intervenes in self portraiture? Is there something of the third party that brings an “otherness” to the work? How does the dialogue about “the male gaze” shift now that a male is producing the work? Does the fact that these images were initially produced as editions and now they are one of a kind objects have any relevance to the ongoing dialogue between painting and photography? And if photography was supposed to bring about the death of painting, and most paintings end up being viewed as photographs anyway, does a painting of a famous photograph champion photography or painting?”

Wow, them’s a whole lot of questions that the paintings themselves appear in no way to address, other than by mere fact of their existence. There’s a strange, sci-fi esque alternate history thingee going on there with the gallery’s breathless series of “what if” queries that makes me giggle, I can’t help it. What if Cindy Sherman was really Robert Longo posing as an elderly woman masquerading as a downtown artist ALL ALONG, how would that have affected the notion of the “male gaze,” along with the art world’s acceptance of Sherman’s work? What if the death of painting was really the death of photography posing as the death of the Other? What then, by God, what then??

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(Via Art21 blog).

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.