Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
The aging woman with a pearl necklace in this photograph is one of the similarly well-heeled subjects that form Cindy Sherman’s Society Portraits series. As she has done throughout her career, Sherman herself appears in each of the Society Portrait photographs. She is disguised here with painted latex, Pan-Cake makeup, and other adornments to exaggerate the cosmetically altered aspects of her character’s face. By communicating a distinct melancholy through her red-rimmed eyes and frowning mouth, Sherman casts a reflective, almost gothic pallor to the woman that serves as a comment on the never-ending societal pressure to maintain an elegant, youthful appearance.