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Photography of Cindy Sherman and Italian Baroque Painters

This study will examine the relationship between the photography of Cindy Sherman, specifically a number of the works from her "History Portraits Series" of 1989-1990, and selected works of the Italian Baroque painters Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. If one considers these three artists in terms of the evolution of a single vision, moving from Caravaggio through Gentileschi to Sherman, one can more easily see the relationships between and among their works. The thrust of this study will focus on such an evolution, from the traditional "masculine perception" (Garrard 4) of Caravaggio to the "special mixture of masculine and feminine elements" (Garrard 7) of Gentileschi to the radically humanist and subversive work of Sherman. Although Sherman, the focus of this study, expropriates the style and content of the Baroque artists, she does so not in order to honor them but rather to subvert the style and meaning of the original works. Specifically, her works focus on human suffering--male and female--which is generally absent from the selected works of the Baroque artists. A study of the works of these artists, featuring themselves as models, will reveal these differences.

The Baroque style, often associated with "a grandiose, richly ornamented, often extravagant style which originated in Italy in the late 16th century as a reaction against classicism" (Bridgewater 109), is, in fact, far more than those surface elements. One of the major features of the Baroque distinguishing it from classicism was the often imperfect appearance of the subject in portraiture, and the presence of the "extremely personal" expression of the artist (Cole and Gealt 155). A far more "engaging" atmosphere exists in the Baroque painting than in classicism. The Baroque approach changed the art of classicism from "a self-contained, isolated form to one that engages the

. . . space and view...

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Photography of Cindy Sherman and Italian Baroque Painters. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:39, May 26, 2020, from