A pair of horns, four claws, and a tail …


What is ugly? Who is ugly? – cont. 

Concepts of beauty and ugliness are relative to various historical periods or cultures. And there is also a “personal touch” to ones views on the matter – In Voltaire’s A Philosophical Dictionary one can read:

Ask the devil; he will tell you that the beautiful consists in a pair of horns, four claws, and a tail.

Cindy Sherman Untitled #216 1989 Chromogenic color print

Cindy ShermanUntitled #216 (1989)
Chromogenic color print

In her History Portraits series (1988-90) Cindy Sherman sets historic conventions in play.

Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has captured herself in a range of guises and personas which are at turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting. To create her photographs, she assumes multiple roles of photographer, model, makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, and wardrobe mistress.

In her work Sherman alters her physique and surroundings to create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from femme fatal to clown to aging socialite. In her History Portraits series she is playing around with Old Masters. Not exactly copying, but assimilating.

Cindy Sherman Untitled #  Chromogenic color print

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #222  (1990)
Chromogenic color print

The concepts of beauty and ugliness, how these values and valuations are brought forth in the culture, and how definitions slide through history, can be seen as an important theme in Sherman’s work.

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