Paul H-O’s Bumptious Guest of Cindy Sherman


It’s not hard to see why artist Cindy Sherman would give the old “no comment” to this bumptious account by her former boyfriend, Paul H-O (with Tom Donahue), of how he became an “art widow” when Sherman’s star rose during the lucrative ’90s. On paper, the two were a terrible match: A reclusive avant-garde artiste paired with the genially schlubby co-host of a public-access television show, who frankly admits he loves hanging with the contemporary art crowd. But if H-O was as clear-eyed then as he is now about the clubby pretensions of the New York art world, he must have exerted enormous appeal for Sherman, who was enraged by the male-dominated, celebrity-conscious painting elite. Given H-O’s open access to that world—many of whose talking heads, including the exuberantly boorish Julian Schnabel, clearly relish the opportunity to knife one another with variable subtlety—Guest of Cindy Sherman is a highly entertaining evisceration and celebration of the milieu. It’s also a fascinating, probably one-sided view of the artist herself, a flirty, put-together looker straight from the J. Crew catalog. For a hermit, Sherman sure got out and about to gallery openings when she wasn’t inhaling lobster at her house in the Hamptons. If you’re looking for fresh insights into her bracing art, you’ll need to go straight to the work.