“From the mid-1990s Sherman’s involvement with transforming her own appearance was developed in several series that foreground the presence of masks.In the Masks Sherman presented a succession of close-ups of faces whose features appear entirely artificial and inscrutable subverting the notion that a person’s facial appearance can be read for clues regarding identity and other personal attributes. The Head Shots series marked Sherman’s return as an actress performing for the camera. Sherman imagined out-of-work actors posing for publicity shots in order to secure roles. Their cosmetic efforts to appear youthful and glamourous are evidently hopeless. These characters’ fabrication of appearances has evident parallels with Sherman’s own artistic practice.
Sherman’s use of make-up and costumes to create false identities found an effective metaphor in the Clowns series in which the characters’ use of masks is obvious and has a sinister aspect. In the portrait of an aging fashion doyenne belonging to the Balenciaga series the artifice of haute couture is exposed by a character whose appearance is manifestly a deception.“
– National Portrait Gallery, London, 2019 Cindy Sherman, Mask