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Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #58, 1980 © Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York


The Cindy Sherman Effect

Identity and Transformation in Contemporary Art

29.01.2020 - 19.07.2020

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #48, 1979 © Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New YorkCindy Sherman, Untitled #93, 1981 © Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New YorkCindy Sherman, Untitled #216, 1989 © Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New YorkCandice Breitz Becoming © Film-Stills: Alexander FahlCatherine Opie Hans © Catherine OpieDouglas Gordon Self-Portrait of You + Me (Richard Burton © Studio lost but found/ Bildrecht, Wien 2020 Foto: Paul SeewerEva Schlegel untitled (021) © Eva Schlegel und Bildrecht, Wien 2020Gavin Turk, Krung Tavi © Gavin Turk Foto: Galerie KrinzingerJulian Rosefeldt Manifesto (Sturtevant) © Courtesy of the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE Berlin, London, TokyoRyan Trecartin The Re’Search (Re’Search Wait’S), © Courtesy the artist, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Sprüth MagersSamuel Fosso, The Liberated American Woman of the 70s © Samuel Fosso, courtesy Jean Marc Patras, ParisSophie Calle “BIRTHDAY CEREMONY (1986)” © Sophie Calle und Bildrecht, Wien 2020 Foto: Courtesy the artist and Arndt Art Agency

With a focus on identity, its construction and forms of its transformation, the exhibition tackles central issues of contemporary art and society. New technologies such as the Internet, gene manipulation and cloning are causing us to ponder more and more on the concept of identity as it relates to subject generation and definition.

The exhibition launches out from Cindy Sherman’s work, which is marked by a consistent and critical – even provocative – challenge to the construction of identities. Her world of images is resourced out of the overwhelming avalanche of images generated by television, films, magazines, the World Wide Web and the history of art. This world is explored by juxtaposing Cindy Sherman’s works and those of contemporary artists and analyses them in regards to topoi such as the deconstruction of the portrait, cultural, gender-specific and sexual stereotypes, and the construction and fiction of identity.

Sherman’s characters reflect our contemporary culture, with its self-made celebrities, reality shows and social-media narcissism. She uses a wide range of scenarios to show that the artificial qualities of such identities, which are often generated in the first place by representation – in film and photography, for instance – lead to an array of identity options, (self-)construed and formed at will, but still determined by social norms. Meanwhile she uses subtle means to question the new possibilities offered to the modern individual for creating him- and herself anew.

The subject of identity, self-image, role-play and sexuality entered art mainly through women artists of the 1960s and 1970s in the course of the women’s liberation movement. A profound upheaval of social norms and cultural certainties shook both society and art in the late 1960s. In the wake of these events the forecasted dissolution of previous norms and categories – for instance of female, male, or queer identities – created scope for the creation of new models remote from previously valid norms.

This process was to a great degree accompanied by the media – as it still is – and is now enabling many artists both female and male to create new models of identity, to address the theme of gender transformation, and to react to social and political challenges. The favoured vehicles of expression came to be the comparatively young media of photography, film and video art.

Cindy Sherman, icon of art history since the 1980s, demonstrated with her first important series Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980) the break between authentic self-portrayal and -enactment by confronting observers with the paradox of a strategy of denial. In this way Sherman inspires subsequent generations to explore the theme of identity and transformation in diverse media, but without ever altering her established artistic procedures.

The primary aim of the exhibition The Cindy Sherman Effect. Identity and Transformation in Contemporary Art is to explore the perspectives Cindy Sherman opened up to subsequent generations through her unmasking strategies. In the games she played in portraying images of society and clichés she created freedoms that exploited subsequent status quos to boost the critical analysis of identity as related to art, society and politics.


Participating artists:

Monica Bonvicini / Candice Breitz / Sophie Calle / Samuel Fosso / Douglas Gordon / Martine Guitierrez / Elke Silvia Krystufek / Sarah Lucas / Maleonn / Zanele Muholi / Catherine Opie / Pipilotti Rist /  Julian Rosefeldt / Markus Schinwald / Eva Schlegel / Tejal Shah / Cindy Sherman / Fiona Tan / Ryan Trecartin / Wu Tsang / Gavin Turk / Gillian Wearing


Gerhard Richter


01/10/2020 - 07/03/2021

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Pierre Bonnard

The Color of Memory

10/10/2019 - 12/01/2020

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