Occupation: Photographer, Film Director
Movement: Contemporary Art
Cindy Sherman's Famous Artworks
“Untitled #13,” 1978
“Untitled #153,” 1985
“Sex Pictures,” 1992
“Society Portraits,” 2008
Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director, best known for her series of conceptual portraits
of archetypical characters, all of whom she plays herself. The photographs aim to challenge the depiction and representation of women in mass media and society.
Cindy Sherman's Early Life
Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to an engineer father and a mother who taught reading to children with mental disabilities, Sherman arrived late in the lives of her parents, and by the time she was 10 years old, her father had retired from Grumman Aircraft. She was not born into a family focused on intellectual elitism, and she herself was not involved in the arts at a young age. Therefore, her creative influences as a child were relegated to boardwalk artists who did caricatures and books espousing 101 beautiful paintings by artists such as Dalí and Picasso.
Cindy Sherman's Journey From Painting to Photography
Sherman truly began to explore the arts when she enrolled at the State University College in Buffalo. Her first attempt was in painting, which proved ineffective for her imagination and temperament. Sherman soon realized that her paintings were no more than copies of other artworks she had seen and that she could never really react to paintings in an instinctual way. She turned to photography as a way to spend more time on an idea than its execution.
Sherman continued to study photography for the rest of her time at university, where she met also other artists who had a substantial impact on the future of her work. Together with Robert Longo and Charles Clough, Sherman formed Hallwalls, an autonomous artists’ space for exhibitions.
Cindy Sherman's Career
Upon graduating from school in 1976, Sherman moved to New York City and began her experiments with portraiture. Living in a loft on Fulton Street, Sherman photographed herself in roles of B-move actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Later on, these pictures would be known as her “Untitled Film Stills.” In this work, Sherman would dress up in hats, dresses, wigs, and costumes. These photographs play with self-fabricated portraiture and female stereotypes in the media. They include the classic housewife, the whore, the damsel in distress, the dancer — all of which Sherman plays with conviction. By titling these works as “Untitled,” Sherman conveys that her photographs are not portraits — they are not meant to portray a specific, actual person — but rather documents of clichés. In 1980, she abandoned the “Untitled Film Stills” series, claiming she had run out of clichés to reproduce.
Cindy Sherman's Mature Years
Sherman’s work took a remarkable shift during her “Disasters and Fairy Tales” series. For the first time in her career, she refrained from using only herself as a model. Shot from 1985–1989, this set is far more grotesque and unsettling than the “Untitled Film Stills.” Sherman set herself in outlandish, obscure settings, employing prosthetics, bile, fungus and other unsettling objects to explore beauty in the revolting.
In 1992, Sherman began work on a number of photographs now referred to as “Sex Pictures.” Sherman is entirely absent here. Instead, she uses dolls and prosthetics, posing them in highly sexual tableaus. Prosthetic genitalia, male and female, are photographed extremely close and in color.
Cindy Sherman and Film
More recently, Sherman has experimented with film. Her 16-year marriage to video artist Michel Auder made an indelible imprint upon her cinematic work. In 1997, Sherman made her debut as a director in the comedy-horror “Office Killer.” She also made an appearance on camera in John Waters’ 1998 comedy, “Pecker.”
Cindy Sherman's Commercial Success
has been met with near-universal acclaim. Major institutions (like MoMA in 2012) have mounted solo exhibitions of her work. The pricing of Sherman’s work has seen a dramatic increase in recent years. In 1999, the average price for one of her prints was between $20,000 to $50,000. In May 2011, one of her 1981 photographs sold for $3,890,500. This was not only a record for the photographer, but the highest price ever paid for a photograph.
Cindy Sherman's Ongoing Projects
Sherman has been working on a new series based on the different types of Los Angeles women — The Aspiring Actress, The Personal Trainer, The Bitter Divorcee, etc. She lives and works in New York City. You can buy Cindy Sherman's artworks online
Cindy Sherman's Major Exhibitions
1980 - Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
1982 - Documenta 7, Kassel
1987 - Moderna Museet, Stockholm
1993 - Whitney Museum of Art, New York
1998 - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2000 - Hasselblad Center, Goteborg, Sweden
2004 - Metro Pictures, New York
2007 - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome
2012 - Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Cindy Sherman's Museums/Collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Tate Gallery, London
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Goetz Collection, Munich
Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Palazzo Forti, Verona
Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid
“Cindy Sherman,” by Eva Respini and Johanna Burton
“Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills,” by Peter Galassi and Cindy Sherman
“Cindy Sherman,” by Paul Moorhouse
“Cindy Sherman: Retrospective,” by Amanda Cruz and Amelia Jones
“Cindy Sherman,” by Regis Durand and Jean-Pierre Criqui