In the 60s, artists and musicians coming of age were presented with a brave new world. The decade saw the last real surge of utopian thinking, taking cue from idealist countercultures that sought to liberate the mind and body.
We had mind-expanding psychedelia, democratising Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, which fumbled around in the intricacies of the subconscious. All these movements were distinct, and yet tightly bound to a grand narrative of political, moral, spiritual and aesthetic emancipation.
By the '70s, though this spirit of optimism had curdled, replaced by dashed hopes and dis-illusionment. Counterculture had devolved, becoming neatly packaged and playing into the hands of consumerism. The Vietnam war raged on. The Watergate Crisis loomed. Racial tensions seethed. Capitalism thrived.
Accordingly, artists began to make work which inhabited these issues. Known as 'the Pictures Generation', a movement emerged which appropriated imagery from arts history as well as the media's contemporary propagation of consumerism, through TV and adverts.
Chief among these artists were Cindy Sherman and David Salle, the subjects of an upcoming joint exhibition at a brand new Skarstedt gallery.
In the '70s, for her project Untitled Film Stills, Sherman began photographing herself in the style of classic Hollywood female tropes. Wide-eyed, small-town ingenues, bombshells in lingerie, housewives at the stove. By appropriating these archetypes, Sherman attempted to interrupt the male gaze. Her self-portraits, in which she was both creator and subject, drew attention to male-attributed gender stereotypes.
In the '80s, she began making History Portraits, which borrowed from noble historical paintings from the renaissance, baroque, rococo and neo-classical periods. Inspired directly by painted portraits by Raphael, Caravaggio, Ingres and Rubens among others, Sherman uses a range of props and costumes in her classically stylised images to play up to the clichés of subjective portraiture.
Several of Sherman's works will be on display at the Skarstedt, alongside pieces from her lesser known but equally influential contemporary David Salle. The latter's Tapestry Paintings are a pastiche on sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian and Dutch genre styles, blended with modern images. Alive with colliding imagery, the visual cacophony of the Tapestry Paintings emphasizes the primacy of seeing
We can't wait to see these far-reaching, still-relevant series side by side.
|Cindy Sherman & David Salle, Skarstedt new Gallery
|Skarstedt New Gallery, 8 Bennet Street, London, SW1A 1RP | MAP
|Green Park (underground)
01 Oct 16 – 26 Nov 16, Tuesday to Friday 10am - 6pm; Saturday 10 am - 5 pm. Mondays by appointment.
|Click here for more information