Interview with Cindy Sherman about her Clown Portraits

Cindy Sherman's Studio

3 Looks inside Cindy Sherman's Studio. See the interview for many more

Fascinating interview with photographs with Cindy Sherman, who we’ve profiled on clownlink previously.  She talks about how she comes up with her work, why she chose clowns as a subject matter, and her method of working– short intense bursts, followed by long periods of not making work.

Here’s a pull from the article– on one of the reasons she chose clowns.

C: …So many things suddenly made sense for the clowns, for the whole idea. I’d been going through a struggle, particularly after 9/11; I couldn’t figur e out what I wanted to say. I still wanted the work to be the same kind of mixture – intense, with a nasty side or an ugly side, but also with a real pathos about the characters – and [clowns] have an underlying sense of sadness while they’re trying to cheer people up. Clowns are sad, but they’re also psychotically, hysterically happy.

B: The funniest people are always the most miserable inside.

C: Yeah, I like that balance – that you could be painted to look like you’re happy and still look like you’re sad underneath, or the opposite too. The more research I did the more levels I saw. There are a lot of creepy, sad, different emotions that I really like.

While I don’t agree with her that clowns are ” psychotically, hysterically happy”, I also am fascinated by what seems to be true and what isn’t true in the persona of the clown.  That swing of the mask (or as Daniel Stein might say, that perpendicularity) creates an interesting tension in performance, and through Cindy Sherman’s work as well.

There’s also photographs of her studio taken by her in the article that are very  interesting.

Read the full interview


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