Cindy Sherman, the world's most influential living photographer, has switched her Instagram profile from private to public.
Sherman, as you well know, is a conceptual photographer whose practice has remained consistent over the past 40 years: she takes self portraits in sets, makeup and costume, then crops or otherwise edits them to hint at narrative and render herself unrecognizable. Sometimes she is a clown. Sometimes she is a high society grand dame.
Until recently, her Instagram account was private and under the handle @misterfriedas_mom, named so for Sherman's macaw. A request for comment to her gallery Metro Pictures did not receive immediate response, so it's unclear what made her decide to switch over to public. Regardless, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth.
The photos seem to be more personal than artistic (Sherman actually seems to be recovering from a hospital visit at the moment, but all the same art critics and fans alike are already flocking there to pore over the shots for greater understanding of Sherman's larger oeuvre.
Sherman brings her masking talents to the new medium with aplomb, seamlessly integrating traditional photo editing techniques with social media staples like filters, fish eye lenses, and lens flares.
Also, her bird seems to have pooped on Donald Trump.
It's fairly impressive how she's managed to render herself unrecognizable in each photograph, just as she does in the analog world. The captions tend to be lighthearted, and she does seem to be largely goofing off rather than commenting on the medium the way she does in her professional photography.
It's not insignificant that she's decided to come over to the medium, and make her account public. Instagram has radically affected women, their sense of power, their sexuality, all of which are squarely Sherman's milieu. Moreover, this is a curious moment in Sherman's life.
At 63, it seems the primary materials she uses for her art are changing radically. Aging is bizarre for everyone, but especially for women who must contend with societal expectations, and for someone who works with her body, the process adds a layer of complication, or subtext. “I, as an older woman, am struggling with the idea of being an older woman,” she told The New York Times last year. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/arts/design/cindy-sherman-takes-on-aging-her-own.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FSherman%2C%20Cindy&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection&_r=0
When Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" hit the world in 1977, they were an immediate critical and commercial sensation, changing the way people took photographs artistically and even affecting the way films were made. (While it may be difficult to pinpoint any specific examples of that latter, it can be argued that if she can do so much with a single frame a filmmaker ought to look at those and see a challenge in them.)
It would be so impressive if in her third act Cindy Sherman were also able to reinvent social media, too.