Cindy Sherman, Untitled #418, 2004, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Exhibition | 18.05.2018 - 23.02.2019

Cindy Sherman

Works from the Olbricht Collection
In 2018, the Weserburg is presenting a very special highlight of the Olbricht Collection: sixty photographic works by the American artist Cindy Sherman from almost all phases of her extensive oeuvre. This is the first time that so large a collection of pictures by the world-renowned artist is being presented to view in northern Germany. In a jolting manner, Cindy Sherman has given visual expression to the debates about “female identity,” about socially based behavior patterns and concomitant expectations and clichés; she has thereby had an enlightening influence on feminist discourses. But the pictures collected by Thomas Olbricht provide striking evidence that Sherman’s oeuvre is capable of even greater resonances. Here it is a matter of existential issues: dreams, fears, self-alienation, horror, and sometimes disturbing fantasies of death. The focus of this exhibition is intended to identify and communicate the diversity, ambiguity and profundity in the oeuvre of this American artist, as well as to investigate the concomitant correspondence to reality in her creative approach.

Cindy Sherman became famous at the end of the 1970s with her “Untitled Film Stills,” in which she documents depictions of women that are reminiscent of scenes from feature films or television series. The artist herself slips into various costumes and poses so as to embody the social behavior patterns in which we mirror and recognize ourselves. The exhibition also shows outstanding examples from the work series “History Portraits,” “Headshots,” “Disasters” and “Sex Pictures” all the way to the fear-inducing “Clowns,” “Masks” and “Horror and Surrealist Pictures.” 

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Fascination and disillusionment are particularly characteristic of the series of the “Headshots,” which are presented in an apposite selection of eleven works. In this series, Cindy Sherman portrays middle-aged women who seek to conjure up once again their youthful attractiveness even while being prisoners of their current phase of life. They present themselves with an intentional matter-of-factness in front of the camera that reveals an unintentional mixture of desired and actual appearance. 

Cindy Sherman Untitled #352, 2000, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Cindy Sherman Untitled #352, 2000, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

According to her own statements, Cindy Sherman does not consider her oeuvre to be feminist in an active and standard sense. The observations she makes as a woman in contemporary culture are simultaneously observations with regard to fears and nightmares, violence and death-fantasies. They are mixed with a profound humor that is intrinsic to each of her terrifying scenes. This is especially demonstrated by the “Clowns,” in which comicality and horror, fascination and loathing are blended with each other. These works constitute a high point in this photographic staging of our culture. 

The deliberate selection of such pictures within the Olbricht Collection offers more than a comprehensive insight into the richly varied concept with which Cindy Sherman presents images of women in their double significance of impressive adaptation and oppressive revelation. The shocking pictures in which Sherman arranges bodily parts of dolls and mannequins in grotesque mutilation have resonances far beyond the theme of staged femininity. They do not show her to any degree as the living model of her deeply disturbing pictorial inventions. These examples of obscenity all the way to fantasies of dismemberment, whose visual impact press up to the very limits of human understanding,  can be found in several instances within this exhibition. In her oeuvre, Cindy Sherman in fact transcends the fascination of succumbing to the insistent power of pre-established roles. She ultimately succeeds in demonstrating how we gradually become accustomed to patterns of behavior that we find profoundly shocking. 

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #322, 1996, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #322, 1996, Olbricht Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

“Cindy Sherman has the public reputation of being an important feminist artist. The works collected by Thomas Olbricht make it clear that such a characterization does not do justice to the variety of her oeuvre in its entirety. It is true that this artist has enormously enriched the feminist discourses of the present. But the focus of this exhibition is on existential themes: dreams, fears and sometimes disturbing and terrifying fantasies of violence and death. Thus the presentation fosters a deeper understanding of the oeuvre of this important artist.” – Peter Friese, Director of the Weserburg

 

With the generous support of 

Accompanying Program

The exhibition is accompanied by an ambitious program of events and educational outreach. These include guided tours, lectures, discussions, films and several evenings dedicated to the oeuvre of this American artist. Moreover, there is an extensive program for schools including a close collaboration with the Bremer Schuloffensive, but also projects for children and young persons with Quartier and other partners.


Opening

Thursday, 18. May 2018, 7 pm.

Admission is free.

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Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Thursday 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Closed on Monday
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Admission

Adults: 9 Euro
Reduced: 5 Euro
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