Welcome to the exhibition
’Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors’
This American photographic artist, born in 1954, can look back on an impressive career. Cindy Sherman’s works are represented in important museums and collections. But in Zurich, there’s never been an extensive exhibition of her work. That's why the Kunsthaus Zürich, the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm have organized this comprehensive retrospective. After a travelling retrospective of the artist’s work in the US two years ago, which started at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors” is now the major European retrospective. At the artist’s request it’s being shown at only three venues – and one of them is Kunsthaus Zürich.
All the key works from Sherman’s various creative periods are on view in the exhibition. They’re not being displayed according to a linear, chronological format. Instead, unexpected combinations open fresh perspectives on this important artist’s work: iconic photos from her early phases, like the famous ’Untitled Film Stills’ series, meet later pictures of ’Headshots’, and the ’Clowns’ come up against the ’Sex Pictures’ series.
These juxtapositions show how, over many years and with impressive consistency, Cindy Sherman has been addressing fundamental issues of human existence, time after time breaking new ground where form is concerned.
This exhibition, which was designed in cooperation with the artist, focuses on the threatening and grotesque in Sherman’s work - hence the title ’Untitled Horrors’. It reflects the disquieting contents of the exhibition on the one hand, and, on the other, it plays with the fact that Cindy Sherman always labels her photos as ’untitled’. She leaves their interpretation open and invites us, as viewers, to develop our own stories from the images and think up titles for ourselves.
In association with Zurich cinema operator Arthouse Kinos, the Kunsthaus is organizing a unique screening of Cindy Sherman’s 1997 film ‘Office Killer’. ‘Office Killer’ is a horror comedy with Molly Ringwald, Carol Kane, Barbara Sukowa and David Thornton, which tells the story of a mousy office worker who accidentally kills one of her co-workers and then embarks on a murder spree. The screening at midday on Sunday, 31 August 2014 in the Arthouse Movie 1, Zurich begins with a short introduction to Sherman’s film and photographic work by curator Mirjam Varadinis. For further information see: www.arthouse.ch
31 August 2014, 12 midday
Arthouse Movie 1
Cynthia Morris Sherman was born on January 19th, 1954, in Glen Ridge, New Jersey – the youngest of five children. When she was three, she moved with her family to Huntington Beach, on Long Island, a middle-class suburb of New York City. Cindy Sherman was a young child in the 1950s, the time of the Cold War and prudery. She describes her childhood and youth as sheltered and secluded. She found distraction in the worlds of cinema, advertising and TV series. She says: ‘I was always glued to the television when I was a kid, and I loved movies (…). Once I had to go with my parents to a dinner party and wound up in the basement, eating my little dinner alone watching Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window‘ on TV while the adults partied upstairs.‘
In 1974 she started studying painting and film at the State University College at Buffalo. ‘I always felt like an artist, knew I was good at rendering things realistically and it was the only direction I felt I could go in - though I had no idea what it meant to be an artist.‘
Sherman’s parents supported her decision. After the required courses in painting, drawing and sculpture, in 1975 – thanks to a woman professor who was influenced by feminism and conceptual art – Cindy Sherman discovered the medium of photography. In 1977 Sherman moved to New York City, which had a deep impact on her, and where she still lives.
In the late 1970s, photography was still far from being considered an art form. In the largely male-dominated art world, painting was the definitive medium. At the same time, idea-based and conceptual approaches were becoming increasingly important, and women in particular were playing a decisive role. They experimented with new art forms such as video, performance and text, and combined feminist concerns with a critical reflection of mass and consumer culture – just as Cindy Sherman would in her photographic work.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication. Rather than a classic catalogue with texts on art history, it instead contains contributions by artists and writers from Europe and the US who were invited to compose texts that take Cindy Sherman’s work as the basis for a reflection on its relationship to literature, music, theatre and film. They include Miranda July (artist, actor), Lars Norén (dramatist, lyricist), Sara Stridsberg (journalist), Sjón (song lyricist, artist) and the writers Sibylle Berg, Karl Ove Knausgård and Kathy Acker. Published by Hatje Cantz, the 232-page publication includes 135 illustrations. It is available from the Kunsthaus-Shop and bookstores, price CHF 49.
The Cindy Sherman app will accompany you through the exhibition. It offers the following functions:
- an audioguide in German and English: while you are in the exhibition, the works that are closest to you will automatically be displayed on the screen.
- images from the exhibition to complement the audioguide texts
- extensive information about the artist and the exhibition
- a ‘selfie’ function: in her work, Cindy Sherman portrays herself in a wide range of roles, using props such as wigs and hats. Now you too can picture yourself in a new role, change your appearance and upload the finished picture to the visitor gallery or share it with friends and family.
A free audioguide in English with commentaries on selected works is available.
Public guided tours in German take place on Wednesdays 6 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.
Private guided tours can be arranged by calling +41 (0)44 253 84 84.
There is also an art and theatre-based educational programme entitled ‘People Pictures’. Part of the ‘Summer Workshop' series, it is aimed at all generations and uses paintings and sculptures from the Kunsthaus collection to explore in greater depth the discourse that emerges from Sherman’s works. Download the (German) programme here
Fri-Sun/Tues 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wed, Thurs 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Admission including audioguide
CHF 20.-/15.- (concessions).
Children and young people up to the age of 16 free of charge.
SBB RailAway combination ticket, with discount on travel and admission, at stations and by phoning Rail Service: 0900 300 300 (CHF 1.19/min. by land line),
Zurich Tourism: hotel room reservations and ticket sales. Tourist Service in Zurich main railway station, tel. +41 44 215 40 00, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.zuerich.com.
Magasins Fnac: sales points in Switzerland: Rive, Balexert, Lausanne, Fribourg, Pathé Kino Basel, www.fnac.ch; F: Carrefour, Géant, Magasins U, 0 892 68 36 22 (0.34 €/min), www.fnac.com; Belgium: www.fnac.be.
Food and drink
Kunsthaus Restaurant, www.kunsthausrestaurant.ch
Tel.: +41 (0)44 251 53 53
reservations for groups also available.
Texts: Mirjam Varadinis
Editor: Kristin Steiner
Design: Martin Stoecklin, www.studio-mst.com
Web: Marco Klingmann, taktil.ch
Citation should include mention of source.
© Kunsthaus Zürich 2014
All works: © Cindy Sherman. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York