Cindy Sherman

b.1954, New Jersey, USA. Works and lives in New York


Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Purple Dress), 1983


When creating her photographs Sherman adopts the multiple roles of author, model, stylist, make-up artist, hairdresser, director, and photographer. Her influential oeuvre consists of a number of grouped series, each of which confronts themes of mediated representation, gender identity, and the power of pictures. Cinema has been a key inspiration, with Sherman fascinated in particular by the female stereotypes that populated Hollywood B movies and the European neorealism and La Nouvelle Vague in the mid-20th-century. Shortly after moving to New York, she began her Untitled Film Stills (1977–80) series, in which she photographed herself in various settings wearing a variety of wigs, costumes and make-up. These black and white prints present a wide range of characters and caricatures; the jaded seductress, the unhappy housewife or the jilted lover. Initially conceived as an informal experiment, the series has become a key touchstone within post-modern and feminist debates around the performing of the self and gaze of the viewer. In the ensuing decades Sherman has extended her photographic investigations to re-workings of painterly history portraits and to less glamourous and more grotesque images that draw on the precedents of Surrealism and Dada. In the 1980s and 1990s, series such as the Disasters (1986–89) and the Sex Pictures (1992) confronted viewers with the strange and ugly aspects of humanity in explicit, visceral images.