From SOHO to Chelsea
The film documents an art-scene television show, an artist’s rise to fame, a relationship, and, in parallel, documents a shift in the ‘art world’. What began in the East Village and then in SOHO was an inclusive rise against, not only a certain style of productivity, but also against an elite environment. Put into basic explanation and in a New York City context – the art coming out of this ‘neighborhood genre’ was a bit too profane for the ‘uptown’ crowd. More pop than classic, vulgar than reserved; the galleries (and the artist’s) existed on meager earnings. Popularity, for the artist, was a localized form of recognition. As New York City trends go, the shift in the ‘art world’ occurs at the same time as galleries move to Chelsea. Whether one caused the other, I cannot say. However, there is a correlation and therefore feel they are indeed interconnected. Our economy was on an upswing, real estate values were increasing, and rogue artists were coming into favor of the art world in general. Cindy Sherman began creating work projected as undesirable. Her portraits of fake vomit sculptor were an ultimate show of resistance to ‘being desired’ and therefore valued. She was daring collectors to hang this work in their dining rooms and call it art.
She began by creating for the sake of creating art and not for fame and fortune. Ironically, they bought it. Pierre Bourdieu would see all of these trends as things that received particular distinctions that would make them desirable amongst a higher class and those who aspire to be in this class.
Cindy also produced self-portraits, depicting herself in different character and scene. Her work made her an art world darling and she produced it on a regular basis. Cindy was not alone in this movement, many artists whose rise to fame found them in the graces of ‘corporate’ sponsorship. A certain style expected of these artists is what they shipped to the galleries. No one can question the artistic talent or relevance of people like Cindy or say Keith Haring. They were both artists producing art. What I do question is their autonomy.
Search the “guest of cindy sherman” tag for the rest of the five part report.