Cindy Sherman et al
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
I somehow managed to fail to get to the National Portrait Gallery to see the epic Cindy Sherman retrospective, and yes I did kick myself. However, the lovely little Stills Gallery in Edinburgh also has Cindy Sherman and it takes a third of the time to get to Edinburgh than London. AND Edinburgh is just nicer. Miles nicer.
A small show, space limited, but Stills brought us Doll clothes, a 16mm stop-motion movie made in '75 while Sherman was still a student; Untitled (Murder mystery people), 1976, and four of the famous Film stills (1977-80) that started to make her name as an explorer of identity and representation.
An upside of Edinburgh is it's an absolute pleasure to get around. Five minutes walk from Stills is the National Gallery where Op Art star Bridget Riley was being given a downright huge retrospective. It's always a pleasure to stand and watch her black and white lines and spirals and waves dance around till you feel a bit odd. But the revelations that I always enjoy in these deep retrospectives are the really early work and this show didn't disappoint with Riley's college work showing the classic draftswoman that underlies her highly calculated geometries.
That early work conveyed the same understanding of the artist that you get from the Lowry at Salford, where when you see L.S. Lowry's early work, and admire his amazing skill in drawing you have to wonder why he pursued the matchstick men pictures that made his name. I read a while ago that he really didn't like the matchstick men, but they sold amazingly well (a clue in there) and his agent kept asking for 'more please Stephen'.
A quarter of an hour away (I have a knackered achilles at the mo, so five minutes in the FREE Art Bus or a taxi if you can't wait) are the two modern art galleries, both in splendid old buildings across the road from each other. On this occasion - and really the main draw of the day - in Modern 2 was Cut and Paste, an exploration of collage over 400 years. Another big show. A small selection of images below, but just let me reel off some names: Miro, Picasso, Schwitters, Heartfield, Warhol, Paolazzi, Hoch, Rosz, Cornell, Ernst, Matisse, Blake, Rauschenberg etc. AND - giving him a whole sentence and a first name to himself - Terry Gilliam. What a show. What inspiration.
I would just point readers at my own project (uni Yr2, Sem1) project The unreliability of memory at sea level which was heavily collage-based. My collages were digital, but this IS the 21st Century, and explored the connection between photograph and memory. You can read more in an earlier blog post.