Neither a film still from an Alfred Hitchcock movie nor a pastiche of such things by Cindy Sherman, this photograph was made, the artist later recalled, as part of an advertising project for Kotex. Mortally frightened by something “off screen,” this nurse—shown close up and dramatically lit—surely would have grabbed the attention of anyone flipping the pages of a 1930s magazine. Whether or not it was ever used in an advertisement is unknown, but in an age now accustomed to staged photography and sensitized to the stereotypical roles in which women have so often been cast, Coster’s photograph is compelling for reasons he could not have predicted.
Inscription: Photographer's stamp in black ink on print, verso C: "PHOTOGRAPHY // GORDON COSTER"
Gordon Coster; Pete Coster; [Keith de Lellis Gallery, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 60," September 11, 2012–January 13, 2013.