The Simulacra

"Humanity is not one." - Susan Sontag
Essay 4 Due
Barbara Kruger, Untitled, 1981.











Historic Context
1959 - 1975
Official U.S. involvement in "Vietnam War"
President Kennedy assassinated
Watergate scandal
President Nixon resigns
AIDS first recognized as a disease, given the name "Gay Related Immune Deficiency"
MTV founded
1981 - 1989
The "Reagan era"
End of the Cold War
GRID renamed AIDS
Chernobyl nuclear accident
"Black Monday" stock market crash leads to world-wide recession
Robert Mapplethorpe dies of AIDS
Student protestors massacred in China's Tieananmen Square











Postmodernism = the period following modernism. Postmodernism is often seen as a rejection of Modernist notions such as the superiority of subjective expression of unique intellects, high culture versus kitsch and abstraction versus figuration.

Belief that no single truth exists
Sense that everything that can be done, has been done
Embrace diversity and questioning
Promotes parody, irony and playfulness
Jouissance = enjoyment
David Hockney, My Mother Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire, 1982.










Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #1, 1977.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #6, 1977.











Gidget, 1959
I Love Lucy, 1951 - 1957











Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #15, 1978.












The Doll

Hans Bellmer. The Doll. c. 1934.
Claude Cahun. Self-portrait. c. 1929.











pastiche = an artistic technique whereby a generally light-hearted tongue-in-cheek imitation of another's style is employed; although jocular it is usually respectful (as opposed to parody, which is not)
Untitled 21
Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978.











Untitled 14

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #14, 1978.











Litta Madonna

Untitled 216

Leonardo da Vinci, Madonna and Child, 1482.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #216, 1990.
Appropriation = the use of found or borrowed elements in the creation of a new artwork
Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
  • In an age when images can be reproduced endlessly, there is no original
  • "Aura" is the feeling of awe created by unique object from the past.
  • Capitalism destroys the aura because of proliferation, mass production and endless reproduction.











Carravaggio, Young Sick Bacchus, 1593.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #224, 1990.










Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #34, 1979.











Laura Mulvey's Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema 1973

Untitled 56

Male gaze = a fundamental concept to Feminist theory which relates to the way men look at women, how women look at themselves and other women, and the sociological effects of this method of looking. Some feminists posit that since it is almost always the female who is being gazed upon by the male, the man exhibits power over the woman.
  • Hollywood cinema places the viewer in the masculine position
  • The viewer identifies with the protagonist who tends to be male
  • The woman is the object of desire - something to be looked at
Cindy Sherman. Untitled Film Still #34, 1979.











Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #32, 1979.


1996 Museum of Modern Art purchased a complete set of Film Stills for $1 million
In 2006 a print of #32 (she made 10) sold for $140,000 at auction












Cindy Sherman, Untitled #96, 1981.











Torso of Neil

Weston poster

Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.
Witkin Gallery, Six Nudes of Neil, 1925 by Edward Weston.  Poster announcing publicationof a limited edition portfolio printed by George A. Tice, 1977.











Sherrie Levine, After Edward Weston, 1981.











Donatello David

Torso of Neil

Polykleitos, Doryphoros, 450 - 440 BC.
Donatello, David, c. 1446 - 1460(?)
Edward Weston, Neil Nude, 1925.











After Walker Evans 4

Sherrie Levine, After Walker Evans #4, 1981.











“Confronts the contradiction between photography (an infinitely reproducible medium) and fine art (commonly considered a unique object).  Many art photographers artificially curtail the size of their editions to give their work the aura of a unique object.  This exclusivity is compromised when their work is then reproduced in books and magazines [and on the internet].  Levine rescues them from this process.  The images she photographs originate in the media; but in framing and presenting them as singular works of art, she returns them to the privileged arena of fine art where such mid-twentieth-century photographers as Edward Weston and Walker Evans intended them to be seen.”
– Linda Weintraub
Sherrie Levine, After Walker Evans #19, 1981.











After Duchamp
more on
Sherrie Levine
other versions of Fountain
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.
Sherrie Levine, After Duchamp, 1991.











Barbara Kruger, Untitled (We Don't Need Another Hero), 1987.











Barbara Kruger, Man's Best Friend, 1987.
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989.











"I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are,
what we want to be, and what we become." - Barbara Kruger


Barbara Kruger, It's a small world..., 1990.
across from Port Authority building during NY Hilton labor strike, 2000