Monday, 10 October 2011

Cindy Sherman for MAC as reviewed by the guardian

Cindy Sherman fronting a MAC makeup collection? What took them so long? In some ways, when you 
consider why we wear makeup, this seems the perfect collaboration. We do it to play up and manipulate our features; to peacock, colour in, draw moons of light around our eyes and shades of suggestion on our lips, to make ourselves more visible. The other, not unrelated motive, is to hide in plain sight.
Sherman, now in her late 50s, has been doing just that for more than three decades. She has always been the subject of her own work, and earlier this year sold a self-portrait for $3.89m (£2.4m) – the highest price ever paid for a single photograph. And yet she remains anonymous. In her photographs, she uses makeup to transform herself, becoming simultaneously obscure and mesmerising. One moment she is Marilyn Monroe, the next a woman lying dead and gravel-grazed in a road – the next a creature with a woman's hands and a pig's snout.
Sherman isn't always grotesque, but her photos are rarely less than disturbing. And she hasn't toned it down for MAC. The images show her with the purple, distended lips of an unhappy rich woman, as a bubble-haired, morosely hopeful clown, and an elfin girl with creepily distorted features – her mouth extending to form the frightful hint of a Chelsea smile.
Most makeup campaigns, unsurprisingly, use beautiful models to impress upon women how wonderful the cosmetics will make them look. Also, to make them feel inferior, ugly, and more likely to reach for their purse.
MAC has always taken a different tack. Its models have included Lady Gaga, Missy Elliott, kd lang, the drag queen RuPaul, and Elton John. It is a rare woman who wants to look like Elton John. It has positioned itself as the makeup company of outsiders and artists: all the people who want to be different, to be utterly transformed, much, much more than they want to be pretty.

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