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Cindy Sherman gets a makeover for Marc Jacobs

28 January 2024

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Never one to miss an opportunity to remain au courant with the latest fashions, Rakewell has kept a close eye on the recent Haute Couture week in Paris – and the spring ad campaigns rolled out at the same time. The American artist Cindy Sherman, best known for disguising her appearance to create uncanny self-portraits that have precious little to do with her self, seems to share an interest in advertising. The Centerfold series (1981), in which she models in poses that allude to the centre spread of men’s magazines, springs to mind. So it is not enormously surprising, though still quite exciting, when she appears in actual ads for Marc Jacobs.

This is not Sherman’s first fashion rodeo. This year marks nearly two decades since she featured in the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2025 campaign. She also appeared in a campaign for Louis Vuitton at the instigation of Jacobs, who has been buying her art steadily since the 2000s. Sherman has also graced Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons adverts with her presence. Her latest appearance is to celebrate 40 years of Marc Jacobs (the fashion label rather than the man) and is photographed by Juergen Teller, who has worked on nearly all of the designer’s campaigns.

Rakewell cannot help but admire Sherman’s careful eye, which so expertly apes and parodies the shoppers of New York – each look just a little too committed, a little too dedicated. But while Rakewell loves nothing more than admiring fashionistas in the wild, there’s time to flâner than there wasand the world of artists in advertising is even more alluring.

It is no secret that Salvador Dalí appeared in many an advert – for everything from Nissan cars to Alka-Seltzer – but he was hardly the only artist to earn an extra buck from the boys on Madison Avenue. Andy Warhol started his career in commercial drawing and co-opted the look of adverts in his Ads series (1985). Warhol was also happy to make appearances in the real thing, for Sony or Braniff International Airways: ‘Andy Warhol and Sonny Liston always fly on Braniff. (When you got it – flaunt it.)’.

For a real luxury pairing, Rakewell feels that Helen Frankenthaler featuring in a Rolex ad in 1990 may be one of the greatest uses of an artist in recent advertising history. ‘Every canvas is a journey all its own,’ goes the slogan. The advert helpfully points out that this particular Rolex model adorns the ‘immensely talented wrist’ of Frankenthaler, which opens up a whole new way to consider her art. What more could you want from an ad?

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