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The dialectical nature of Cindy Sherman’s fashion photographs


Negrin, L, The dialectical nature of Cindy Sherman's fashion photographs, Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty, 11, (2) pp. 129-152. ISSN 2040-4417 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 Intellect Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1386/csfb_00013_1


This article seeks to interrogate the increasingly prevalent consideration of fashion photographs as ‘artworks’, independent of their commercial function. Using Cindy Sherman’s fashion photographs as a case study, I argue that they cannot be read either as a straightforward subversion of the fashion industry or, conversely, as totally subservient to it. While most of the writings about these works have focused on the ways in which they interrogate media constructions of feminine beauty ideals, the reasons for their embrace by the fashion industry have been largely neglected. I seek to address this lacuna by arguing that the challenging nature of Sherman’s fashion photographs, far from being antithetical to their commercial function, is precisely their source of appeal to the fashion industry. Her images are sought after by the fashion world, not because they adhere to the promotional tropes conventionally seen in fashion advertising but because they seek to distance themselves from them. This paradox can be explained by the fact that the economic success of elite industries such as haute couture rests increasingly on their ability to promote themselves as being ‘above’ commerce. It is this double-edged nature of her fashion photographs that enables them to operate simultaneously as critical interrogations of feminine ideals of beauty in an art world context, and as promotional tools within the fashion industry.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Cindy Sherman, advertising, anti-glamour, art and fashion, fashion industry, fashion photography
Research Division:Creative Arts and Writing
Research Group:Art history, theory and criticism
Research Field:Art theory
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Arts
Objective Field:The creative arts
UTAS Author:Negrin, L (Dr Llewellyn Negrin)
ID Code:143788
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Office of the School of Creative Arts and Media
Deposited On:2021-04-01
Last Modified:2022-08-26
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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