27 Nov 2020 –
13 Feb 2021
27 Nov 2020 –
13 Feb 2021
Works on Paper
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by Cindy Sherman, one of the most influential artists internationally who has been associated with the gallery since the 1980s. It is the first time this 2019 series will be on view outside the United States.
In her latest body of work, Sherman continues her long-standing investigation into identity as a social construction. Since the 1970s, her works have addressed topics such as identity, gender and social roles, examining stereotypical media representations of women. By adopting a multitude of disguises and personae, the artist invites the viewer to take a critical stance on subjectivity and sexuality.
In the ten large-scale photographs on view, the artist impersonates a cast of androgynous characters, all dressed in elegant, gender-neutral designer menswear. With direct eye contact and steely gazes, the figures pose in front of digitally manipulated backgrounds, composed from photographs Sherman took while traveling through Bavaria, Shanghai and England. The performative stance of each character is emphasized by their extravagant outfits, resulting in an almost stage-like, theatrical impression. Untitled #614, for example, depicts a man posing confidently before a tree-lined avenue. His posture and attire—silk trousers with flowers and an embroidered cape—radiates both confidence and femininity, thus challenging stereotypical contemporary perceptions of gender.
Each new work presents either an individual figure or a couple, with a consistent focus on Sherman’s characters that read as male. The female characters—recognizable only from accessories or subtle changes to the artist’s hair and makeup—often serve as secondary figures, providing a contrast to their partners that highlights our innate desire to assign genders to those we encounter. For the couple featured in Untitled #609, the artist used the same wig and makeup for each character, through to their facial hair. Gender here is thus only attributable superficially based on the figures’ conventional accessories: hat, earrings and purse.
Since her earliest works, Sherman has played with masculinity and gender expression. In Bus Riders and Murder Mystery, two series from 1976, she impersonates both men and women of different age, color and social status, using elaborate disguises to hide her individuality behind stereotypical character representations. In the diptych Doctor and Nurse (1980–87), Sherman stages herself in a clichéd depiction of a 1950s male doctor and female nurse; and her mise-en-scène as clergymen and aristocrats in History Portraits (1988–90) comments critically on the male-dominated nature of European art history. Finally, the notion of gender is eliminated entirely in her more recent Clown series (2004) by means of thick layers of face paint and shapeless costumes. Sherman’s new works bring these conversations squarely into the twenty-first century, when gender expression and fluidity have become mainstream subjects, casting further doubt upon the rigid constructs of twentieth-century masculinity and femininity.
The Berlin gallery concurrently presents a solo exhibition by American artist Andrea Zittel.
Cindy Sherman (*1954, Glen Ridge, NJ) lives and works in New York. Her work is currently the subject of a large-scale exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, which follows a major retrospective exhibition in 2019–20 at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and Vancouver Art Gallery. Other recent solo exhibitions include: Fosun Foundation, Shanghai (2018), The Broad, Los Angeles (2016), Dallas Museum of Art (2013), and Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (all 2012). Selected group exhibitions include Hayward Gallery, London (2018), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016), Tate Modern, London (2015), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2012) and MUMOK, Vienna (2011). Sherman participated in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).
Works on Paper
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to announce the Berlin exhibition Works on Paper by American artist Andrea Zittel, presenting 26 new drawings that all hinge, in one way or another, on planar structures. Planar panels are flat rectangular elements that form the building blocks of so much of the reality that we construct around ourselves, from benches to bed frames to walkways. Zittel’s artistic work regularly traverses the boundaries between art and architecture, and here reflects upon the planes and panels that exist in both our literal and psychological fields of reality.
Horizontal panels naturally function as platforms for actions and behavior, creating sites where life happens (e.g. floors, tables, benches, fields, streets). Vertical panels, in turn, privilege the eye and are the carriers of messages and ideologies (e.g. walls, screens, paintings, billboards). Rigid or flexible, these panels can provide shelter or divide space into particular zones of purpose or meaning; their function is assigned rather than inherent. In Zittel’s watercolor Study for Cellular Grid #6 (2019), low planar walls create a grillwork of compartments that demarcate human-sized, cell-like spaces evoking an office cubicle, private bedroom or even a cemetery plot. The work points to the way in which space, and its delineation, can be used as a medium for control and alienation while simultaneously offering a source of security, privacy and individualism.
Another of Zittel’s new series on view, Planar Panel Studies: Vast and Specific (2020), depicts planar shapes lifted from print design, architecture and outdoor signage, which are then superimposed on loosely painted watercolor landscapes that evoke the high-desert Joshua Tree region where the artist has lived for two decades. The rectangle, while almost totally absent in nature, has become the most ubiquitous shape not only within human manufacturing and standardization, but also for human organization and imagination. In works from Panels and Portals (2020), planar compositions create hard-edged interior spaces perforated with a rectangular opening, or “portal,” that offers a glimpse beyond the encapsulating interiors into a landscape devoid of flat surfaces or rectangular formats of any kind. Earth-toned washes meld with streaks of pale blues and pinks, adding a sublime, yet grounded, aura to the black-and-white planes that appear throughout Zittel’s works.
Since the early 1990s, Andrea Zittel has used the arena of day-to-day life to develop and test prototypes for living structures and situations to understand the world at large. Her experiments have at times been extreme—wearing a uniform for months on end, exploring limitations of living space, living without measured time. Yet through these experiences, a central goal has remained: to illuminate how humans attribute significance to chosen structures or ways of life, and how subjective and arbitrary our choices of structures can be.
The exhibition design has been developed in collaboration with Motet Design Group.
Concurrently, Sprüth Magers will present a pop-up shop in the Berlin space as well as an online shop with A-Z West Works, including handmade ceramic bowls and hand-woven textiles produced by Andrea Zittel’s studio A-Z West in the Californian desert next to Joshua Tree National Park. Since 2000, A-Z West has functioned as the artist’s home and testing ground where physical works are created and lived with as an experiment in “investigative living.” All income generated through the sales of A-Z West Works funds the studio’s general sustainability and supports the artists local to the desert.
The Berlin gallery also presents an exhibition of work by American artist Cindy Sherman.
Andrea Zittel (*1965, Escondido, CA), lives and works in the Californian Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. Her work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including Miller ICA Carnegie Mellon University, Purnell Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh (2020), Kunsthall Stavanger (2018), Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA (2017), Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2015), Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2014), Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2012), Indianapolis Museum of Art (2010), Schaulager Basel (2008), Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Vancouver Art Gallery (all 2005), Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (1999), Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Johanneum, Graz (1997), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (1996), and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1995). Major group exhibitions include 16th Istanbul Biennial (2019), Museum of Art and Design, New York (2015), Kunsthalle Bielefeld (2013), San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design (2010), Whitney Biennial, New York (2004, 1995), Documenta X, Kassel (1997), Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997), and 45th Venice Biennale (1993), among many others.