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Cindy Sherman’s “Experiments in Motion”

In the catalogue for the Cindy Sherman exhibition currently (Spring 2012) on view at the Museum of Modern Art, curator Eva Respini sees in some of the artists earliest work from the 1970s a direct link to the history of motion experimentation. Respini claims that Sherman’s first use of digital techniques in 2007 “recall her college experiments with cutouts of multiple figures, such as Doll Clothes, [below] the 1975 stop-motion animated film, and the 1976 collages Untitled #488 and #489 [above], which evoke the early experiments in motion photography by Etienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge. Where these early works chart the movements and gestures of a character that is replicated and multipled, the multiple figures in Untitled #425 [clowns, above] interact with one another to create a tableau; they also allow for a variation in scale that leads to a nightmarish effect in which clowns seem to encroach on the viewer’s physical space.”

If you have a chance to see the show, do so. Sherman has been taking pictures with herself as the model since the early 1970s, traipsing through numerous themes and forms of critique of societal segments. The MoMA show is beautifully composed, and the scale of Sherman’s work (big!) demands a personal encounter, particularly the last gallery space showing the tragic socialites, including the image above, wherein the digitized background gives an effect similar to the stereographic animated gifs we love so much!