cindy sherman and catherine opie unveil enchantingly contemporary cameos in venice

cindy sherman and catherine opie unveil enchantingly contemporary cameos in venice

presented during 2019’s venice art biennale, artists cindy sherman and catherine opie have joined forces to create a series of contemporary cameos for LIZWORKS. the collection harks back to the classic beauty and long-standing tradition of carving to create a raised profile of an image – most often being a portrait. however, these new designs offer an updated twist on the ancient artwork, resulting in an assortment of endearing jewelry pieces.

‘self portrait nursing’ by catherine opie

main image (l-r): ‘pensive’ earrings by cindy sherman and ‘mary’ earrings by catherine opie, images courtesy of LIZWORKS



the tradition of cameos dates as far back to ancient greece, when portraits and depictions of ancient gods were carved into agate. the decorative art-form remained popular throughout history, most notably during the victorian era when the pieces predominately showed a female profile on an oval-shaped background. the method behind cameos involves relief carving to form a raised profile against a negative, and most typically contrasting, background. historically, cameos were made using semi-precious gemstones, however, glass and shell have been more commonly utilized in recent times.

‘halo’ ring by cindy sherman, image courtesy of LIZWORKS



this new collection forms a series of captivating miniature sculptures, combining the ancient jewelry with modern concepts. the level of detail within the series of images creates a surprisingly life-like and animated form, bringing the object into the 21st century. ‘the exploration of the cameo as a contemporary canvas brought me immediately to the work of catherine opie and cindy sherman,’ liz swig, founder of LIZWORKS explains. ‘to see their work three dimensionally carved and seductively sculpted in the tradition of the cameo is a complete thrill.’

‘baby’ ring by cindy sherman, image courtesy of LIZWORKS



the american photographer and film director, cindy sherman, has reimagined the cameo as ‘the original selfie’. the artist, whose previous work questions issues of femininity and female stereotypes depicted in the media, both respects the traditional formality of the cameo, while also turning it on its head. ‘I like cameos, especially the idea of dark, strange ones. I also like the idea of tiny objects being art. it seemed like a good project for using my instagram images since the files aren’t large enough files to blow up into photographs, and they also concentrate on being mainly portraits. it’ll make it more fun to wear it as a piece of art,’ sherman comments.

‘spa’ brooch by cindy sherman, image courtesy of LIZWORKS



alternatively, by drawing upon themes of intimacy and family, catherine opie’s cameos create highly personal images. by fusing provocative content with formal craft, the american photographer has become most recognised for her work which examines the norms surrounding the social construction of the ‘american dream’ and ‘american identity’. this ‘provocation’ can be seen in her cameo design, as she has chosen to depict a highly-intimate and personal self-portrait of her breast-feeding her baby.

‘oliver and mrs. nibbles’ brooch by catherine opie, image courtesy of LIZWORKS



opie observes, ‘the artworks I selected are very personal to me and my connection to my family. in the process of making the photographs into three-dimensional objects, I thought of images that would be visually compelling, but also iconic works of mine as an artist. i’ve always been interested in the relationship to object making even within the photographic medium. a cameo is something that can be worn every day that doesn’t hang on a wall—the piece becomes more sculptural than a photograph with texture and dimension.’

‘munch’s logs’ cufflinks by catherine opie, image courtesy of LIZWORKS



unveiled during the occasion of 2019’s venice art biennale, the cameos each illustrate a miniature world designed by artists cindy sherman and catherine opie. the pieces are hand-carved in italy in small editions under the vision of gino di luca, a third-generation cameo maker in torre del greco, where shell cameos have been produced for centuries. set in gold and ornately adorned, the collection provides a refreshing and beguiling twist on a classic art-form.


‘match strike’ ring, image courtesy of LIZWORKS

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

image © designboom

cindy sherman wearing her ‘pensive’ earrings

image © designboom



project info: 


artists: cindy sherman and catherine opie
presented by: LIZWORKS
presented during: venice art biennale 2019

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,528 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample