The society portraits made in 2008 portray older women in opulent settings wearing expensive clothes, their faces stretched and enhanced unnaturally, showing signs of cosmetic surgery. These markers point to cultural standards of beauty and wealth, and here signal the failed aspiration to sustained youth. Printed large, presented in decorative and often gilded frames, and depicting figures in formal poses, these works are reminiscent of Sherman’s history portraits and classical portraiture in general. In this way, they remind the viewer that representation is not a new phenomenon, and the cultural implications in all images are tied to long and complex histories. In Untitled #468 the figure stands stoically with arms crossed and mouth slightly agape, wearing a fur, silk scarf, and white gloves, which the artist found at thrift shops. In the background, an ornate building mirrors the elaborate dress of the woman.
The perspective of the building does not align with that of the figure, blatantly breaking the illusion of reality and recalling Sherman’s 1980 series of rear-screen projections. This clear and deliberate artificiality indicates that images, characters, and even our own selves are constructed, not fixed