cover image Fitcher's Bird

Fitcher's Bird

Cindy Sherman, Rizzoli. Rizzoli International Publications, $17.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1567-8

Inventive, provocative tableaux have made Sherman a star among color photographers, but unless the elementary-school set shares a pronounced taste for the decadent, the artist's considerable talents are misdirected here. An adaptation of a tale by the Brothers Grimm, the story has all the gore of its close cousin Bluebeard: a wicked wizard ensnares hapless maidens, subjects them to an impossible test of obedience and then punishes them with a Jeffrey Dahmer-style death. This version adds a number of gothic flourishes: a skull bedecked as the head of a bride, a bride who applies first honey and then feathers to her skin, and the immolation of the wizard in a burning building. Sherman's lighting is characteristically arresting, her colors superbly saturated and her compositions frequently powerful--children, even so, are unlikely to consider her technical virtuosity when presented with her images. The heads of two dismembered dolls commune with each other, surrounded by hands and a foot; the wizard faces the fatal fire, the bared nipple of his breast lit by flames. The successful photographs hint at perversity; the others are simply stagey. Ages 5-9. (Nov.)