Master of Disguise by Patrick Letrondo

1 Dec

With digital photography the mode and networks like Instagram and Pinterest the popular form of sharing pictures, everyone can be a photographer. Hopefuls often tint their pictures with blues and yellows to give their instant digital creations a nostalgic, vintage look. Girls can now blur and blush their faces into oblivion, and guys can blow up their biceps with warping tools. Things like those described are more or less acts of vanity, pretentious works to be posted to Facebook and carelessly accepted as modern portraits. I believe that the champion of modern photography is artist Cindy Sherman for challenging the hype and culture surrounding digital airbrushing and shallow self-transformation and ultimately turning grotesque façade into meaningful art.

In her most famous and defining collections, she has taken pictures of herself, but to call them self-portraits would be a mistake. Clouding her real appearance (she’s actually a gentle-faced New York native), Sherman employs makeup, wigs, false teeth, and outfits – never Photoshop. In a picture she may be an aging, wealthy sourpuss [Untitled #465], a haunted young woman [Untitled Film Still #28], or even a brooding circus clown [Untitled #411], but there’s always a piece of “Real Cindy” poking out from underneath the illusion. From shocking to plain, attractive to morbid, her many characters allow the viewer to project on them his own invented backstories, imagined personalities, and even prejudices.

The initial fun of her photographs is in trying to find “Real Cindy”; in breaking apart her “puzzle”. But after the observer realizes that beneath all these disguises is a comparatively plain woman, her art poses a further question: “Who are you, really? Which version of yourself are you putting on? Which one are you hiding?” Photographers who work digitally, retouchers at big-name fashion magazines and even zealous teenagers take for granted how easy it is to rework appearances in an attempt to chase some idealistic form of perfection. Cindy Sherman did cleverly and profoundly what many people (even I myself sometimes) do out of simple conceit. In an age of Photoshop and the deception of digital photography, she is a master photographer because she uses self-alteration not out of vanity, but to question the masks and disguises we wear every day.


6 Responses to “Master of Disguise by Patrick Letrondo”

  1. Tyana Ruiz December 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    This is actually really interesting. I like the idea of her putting on different costumes and makeup instead of photoshopping the picture itself. She is “photoshopping” herself in real life instead of virtually. It’s a clever perspective on art.

  2. Agatha Tesmer December 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    I actually watched a documentary about her in my Art Class. She is incredibly interesting and demonstrates a new depth to digital photography. I loved the way you informed about her and provided the immense contrast between what our society deems art today verses its potential.

  3. Jherson fuentes December 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    I think that the artist you mentioned is one of those artist who express them selfs as undividuals who care more about what they belive in rather then the appearance they might put out to the world.

  4. Jamie Meier December 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    I loved this article! It was well written and made me think. I like how you compared her version of digital photography versus our society’s take on it today: to put on a mask or disguise of some sort with the help of Photoshop.

  5. sage rowe December 3, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    A great article! Very well written and interesting to read the whole way through. I like how you showed the different meaning behind altering the pictures digitally and actuality.

  6. Brenda Castillo December 3, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    Good job Patrick, this was very interesting. I loved reading how she could transform herself into something else from an art form that most people are now taking for granted. The first paragraph was very well written and got better throughout the whole article.

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