Cindy Sherman’s work has always been about time. She exaggerates photography’s tension between past and present tense, between the vague memory of something you might have seen and what you’re seeing now, between the image’s subjunctive of what could be and the reality of what is. In her new series, she does this by dressing up as movie stars from the days of black-and-white film and photographing herself in vivid, garish color. She clowns her glamourous guises by painting dainty doll lips on her real ones, and sticking colored claws on her nails. The computer-generated backgrounds enhance the effect: lurid and blurred, they have spindly winter trees whose branches bleed into the sky, or clouds filtered to look embossed. Sherman has been working with digital photography for over decade and Photoshop half that long; she has said that she wants to move on to moving images next, and this series feels like a cathartic coda to her digital transition, from the status of the photograph as memory’s material form to part of a present that swallows everything in itself. —Brian Droitcour
Pictured: Cindy Sherman: Untitled, 2016, dye sublimation metal print, 44½ by 33½ inches. Courtesy Metro Pictures, New York.