Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman. Photo: Inez and Vinoodh

 

Cindy Sherman (*1954) is a pivotal figure in the history of appropriation art and one of the world’s best-known contemporary artists. Since the late 1970s, she has been photographing herself in roles inspired by mass-media stereotypes, but also real people and art-historical imagery. Her unique quasi-theatrical approach reveals the degree to which these stereotypes are entrenched in the cultural imagination. Sherman’s influential, complex oeuvre draws upon cinema, realism and the grotesque, and it is embedded in a number of postmodern and feminist theories. The New York-based artist has been associated with the gallery since 1987.

 

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Sherman moved to New York in 1977 and soon began working on a series of black-and-white photographs whose conceptual foundations continue to inform her work to this day. Though her Untitled Film Stills (1977–80)—a now-iconic series showing Sherman herself in various cinema-inspired guises and settings—seemed familiar, they eluded simple explanation. They were not based on specific films or well-known actresses; cracks in the facades of these self-dramatizations revealed their artificiality, and yet these photos still looked like copies. They amounted to an almost encyclopedic list of female roles in Hollywood films, B-movies, film noir and European auteur cinema of the 1950s and 60s. They represented a challenging commentary on the stereotypical, cinema-derived notions of femininity in viewers’ minds.

Her work since then—created in series that amount to self-contained ensembles—has repeatedly highlighted the degree to which the viewer’s gaze is conditioned by various media. Her skillful, often ingenious evocation of such clichés goes hand-in-hand with their undermining. Sherman’s 1981 Centerfolds series features uncomfortable parodies of the centerfolds in erotic men’s magazines. With Headshots (2000–02), she captured the contradictory, often desperate self-presentation of an older generation of women who wage contemporary society’s fixation on youth and beauty as a war on their own bodies. The Society Portraits (2008) series finds Sherman portraying stereotypical upper-class women against opulent digital backgrounds, their makeup and silicone implants betraying an anxious knowledge that they might have lost the battle with images of status, youth, and beauty.

Another essential facet of Sherman’s work is her exploration of the ugly, macabre, and grotesque. Series including Fairy Tales (1985), Sex Pictures (1992), Horror and Surrealist Pictures (1994–96), but also the Old Masters-inspired History Pictures (1998), the Clowns (2004) body of work and her feature film Office Killer (1997), feature eerie and disturbing imagery that revel with surprising force in their nightmarish perspective on the world and carefully illuminate the psychological terrain of the abject. Classical fairy-tale, horror and splatter topoi merge in theatrical tableaux with reflections on the decay of the human body, the history of violence, the AIDS crisis, and beauty-obsessed pop culture.

Though Sherman herself has repeatedly stressed the degree to which her work has been influenced by the ideas and practices of artists such as Hannah Wilke and Eleanor Antin, she also continues and updates a photographic tradition of models assuming a variety of different guises and personae, a history that includes French surrealist Claude Cahun and Bauhaus photographer Gertrud Arndt. And yet Sherman’s oeuvre essentially reduces the photographic genre of the self-portrait to absurdity. She radically examines today’s dynamics of identity-creation and self-display and the constitutive role that photography—with its ability to fuse the imaginary and the real—plays in that dynamic.

 

Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills. 1977–80
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2019
© Metro Pictures / MoMA, New York 2019
Works
Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #603, 2019

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #603, 2019
Dye sublimation metal print
215.3 × 195.6 cm
84 3/4 × 77 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #584, 2018

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #584, 2018
Dye sublimation metal print
101.9 × 158.8 cm
40 1/8 × 62 1/2 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #559, 2015

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #559, 2015
Three dye sublimation metal prints
120.7 × 266.4 × 5.1 cm (overall dimensions)
47 1/2 × 104 7/8 × 2 inches (overall dimensions)

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 474, 2008

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 474, 2008
Color photograph
230.5 × 152.4 cm
90 3/4 × 60 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #572, 2016

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #572, 2016
Dye sublimation metal print
132.1 × 116.8 cm
52 × 46 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 549-B / # 549-E, 2010

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 549-B / # 549-E, 2010
Pigment print on Phototex adhesive fabric
Dimensions variable

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #416, 2004

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #416, 2004
Color photograph
142.2 × 124 cm
57 1/2 × 50 1/4 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 360, 2000

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 360, 2000
Color photograph
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #222, 1990

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #222, 1990
Chromogenic color print
152.4 × 111.8 cm
60 × 44 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #121, 1983

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #121, 1983
Color photograph
88.9 × 54 cm
35 × 21 1/4 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 86, 1981

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 86, 1981
Color photograph
61 × 121.9 cm
24 × 48 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled #327, 1996

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #327, 1996
Color photograph
148 × 94 cm
58 1/4 × 37 inches

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978

Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978
Gelatin silver print
20.3 × 25.4 cm
8 × 10 inches

Details
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #603, 2019
Dye sublimation metal print
215.3 × 195.6 cm
84 3/4 × 77 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #603, 2019
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #584, 2018
Dye sublimation metal print
101.9 × 158.8 cm
40 1/8 × 62 1/2 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #584, 2018
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #559, 2015
Three dye sublimation metal prints
120.7 × 266.4 × 5.1 cm (overall dimensions)
47 1/2 × 104 7/8 × 2 inches (overall dimensions)

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #559, 2015
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 474, 2008
Color photograph
230.5 × 152.4 cm
90 3/4 × 60 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 474, 2008
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #572, 2016
Dye sublimation metal print
132.1 × 116.8 cm
52 × 46 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #572, 2016
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 549-B / # 549-E, 2010
Pigment print on Phototex adhesive fabric
Dimensions variable

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 549-B / # 549-E, 2010
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #416, 2004
Color photograph
142.2 × 124 cm
57 1/2 × 50 1/4 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #416, 2004
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 360, 2000
Color photograph
76.2 × 50.8 cm
30 × 20 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 360, 2000
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #222, 1990
Chromogenic color print
152.4 × 111.8 cm
60 × 44 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #222, 1990
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #121, 1983
Color photograph
88.9 × 54 cm
35 × 21 1/4 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #121, 1983
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 86, 1981
Color photograph
61 × 121.9 cm
24 × 48 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled # 86, 1981
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #327, 1996
Color photograph
148 × 94 cm
58 1/4 × 37 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled #327, 1996
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978
Gelatin silver print
20.3 × 25.4 cm
8 × 10 inches

Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
September 23, 2020–January 3, 2021
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

The display was designed in close collaboration with Cindy Sherman and covers her entire career, with a particular focus on pieces produced since the early 2010s, as well as some previously unseen works.
This retrospective (1975-2020) gathers 170 works – more than 300 images including works from series such as Untitled film stills, Rear Screen Projections, Fashion, History Portraits, Disasters, Headshots, Clowns, Society Portraits, Murals, Flappers and a new series with male figures and couples.

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Astrid Klein, Marlene Dumas, Kara Walker, Cady Noland
March 27–April 12, 2019
Hong Kong

Eau de Cologne began as a series of exhibitions and three publications, organized by Monika Sprüth between 1985 and 1989, which sought to create a new dialogue around contemporary art. The exhibitions introduced a select group of young women artists, each of whom individually represented powerful attitudes and practices.

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Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
January 27–April 8, 2017
Berlin

A thirty-five year career in photography has established Cindy Sherman as one of the most influential figures in contemporary art. Since the 1970s, she has created photographic portraits that are predicated on themes of identity, gender and role-play. Parodying the representation of women in film and television, fashion magazines, advertising, and online, she adopts limitless guises that illuminate the performative nature of subjectivity and sexuality.

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Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Jenny Holzer / Lady Pink
June 28–August 20, 2016
Los Angeles

The group show Eau de Cologne at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles features work from the late 1970s to 2016 by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. The exhibition at Sprüth Magers’ recently-opened Los Angeles gallery is a follow–up to its predecessor in Berlin last year. It sheds light on key topics in these artists’ works, but also the specific history of the gallery and its connection to these important female figures of an art that subtly addresses women’s roles in very different ways.

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Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler
September 17–October 21, 2015
Berlin

This group exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin shows works from the early 1980s to 2015 by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. These five artists have been working with Monika Sprüth since the foundation of her gallery in Cologne in the early 1980s and have been closely connected to the gallery ever since.

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman

The Vivisector
Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Hans Bellmer, Frederick Sommer, Bangwa Cameroon, Morton Bartlett, Georges Bataille
curated by Todd Levin
November 23, 2012–January 26, 2013
London

The Vivisector, investigates two bodies of work by Cindy Sherman: the photographic series ‘Sex Pictures’ (1989-1992) in which the artist examined the body through mannequins and prosthetics, and a subsequent series of black and white images entitled ‘Broken Dolls’ (1999), depicting dismembered and reconstructed figurines. The exhibition will contextualise and re-evaluate the importance of these specific series in Sherman’s oeuvre. While Sherman’s compositions are the cynosure of this exhibition, work by artists including Morton Bartlett, Georges Bataille, Hans Bellmer, Bruce Nauman and Frederick Sommer will also be on display, illustrating a collective interest in the transgressive figurative form.

Cindy Sherman
January 12–February 19, 2011
London

For this series Sherman has assembled a cast of uniquely individual characters on large photographic murals, marking a departure within Cindy Sherman’s artistic practice from the format of the framed photograph. The various personas animating this new body of work were created as shrines to nondescript, eccentric characters who might also be seen to denote sentries, guarding the entrance to some fabled land, casting ambiguous and disconcerting glances at the viewer.

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Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
April 16–May 27, 2009
London

The colour photographs assembled are selected from a new series which develops Sherman’s longstanding investigation into notions of gender, beauty and self-fashioning, and reveal a particular concern to probe experiences and representations of aging. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has developed an extraordinary relationship with her camera, and her audience, capturing herself in a range of guises and personas which are by turn alarming and amusing, distasteful and poignant. A remarkable performer, subtle distortions of her face and body are captured on camera, leaving the artist unrecognizable as she deftly alters her features, and brazenly manipulates her surroundings.

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Cindy Sherman
February 18–April 18, 2009
Berlin

The fourteen colour photographs assembled develop Sherman’s longstanding investigation into notions of gender, beauty and self-fashioning, and reveal a particular concern to probe experiences and representations of aging. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has developed an extraordinary relationship with her camera, and her audience, capturing herself in a range of guises and personas which are by turn alarming and amusing, distasteful and poignant. A remarkable performer, subtle distortions of her face and body are captured on camera, leaving the artist unrecognizable as she deftly alters her features, and brazenly manipulates her surroundings.

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Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
A Play of Selves
May 23–June 14, 2007
London

'A Play of Selves' comprises 72 photographic assemblages which Cindy Sherman cut out of black and white prints in 1975 during her last college year in Buffalo, New York, and marks one of the first uses of herself as a subject in staged photographs. Having originally used the cut-out figures for an animated film ('Doll Clothes,' 1976) she soon realized that the figures could interact with each other. A film script developed, the story of a young woman overwhelmed by various alter-egos working at odds with her and her final conquering of self-doubt, played out in four acts and a finale with 16 separate characters.

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Cindy Sherman
Clowns
January 20–February 26, 2005
Munich

In the clown series, Sherman takes the notion of the mask and the masquerade in a new direction. Initially conceived after being approached by British Vogue magazine to guest edit their fashion section in June 2003, Sherman’s clown portraits would become a way of exploring the boundaries between clothing and costumery. Intrigued by the apparent dichotomy of the clowns’ persona and any sense of the interior, or real self, Sherman explores the society of difference in this subtly disparate group of facades.

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Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
Clowns
November 26, 2004–January 15, 2005
London

In the clown series, Sherman takes the notion of the mask and the masquerade in a new direction. Initially conceived after being approached by British Vogue magazine to guest edit their fashion section in June 2003, Sherman’s clown portraits would become a way of exploring the boundaries between clothing and costumery. Intrigued by the apparent dichotomy of the clowns’ persona and any sense of the interior, or real self, Sherman explores the society of difference in this subtly disparate group of facades.

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Das Licht von der anderen Seite – Teil II Fotografie
John Baldessari, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Anna & Bernhard Blume, Victor Burgin, Walter Dahn, Jimmy De Sana, Barbara Ess, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Peter Fischli  David Weiss, Hamish Fulton, Günther Förg, Georg Herold, Martin Kippenberger, Imi Knoebel, Thomas Locher, Allan Mccollum, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, James Welling, Richard Wentworth
September 16–October 29, 1988
Cologne

Cindy Sherman
Press

This Artwork Changed My Life: Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills”
Artsy, article by Benjamin Sutton, February 4, 2020

Beyond The Frame
Harper’s Bazaar, article by Francesca Hedges, July 2019

Playing to the Camera
Apollo, article by Rachel Wetzler, June 2019

Cindy Sherman: ‘I enjoy doing the really difficult things that people can’t buy’
The Guardian, article by Sean O’Hagan, June 8, 2019

Cindy Sherman review – a lifetime of making herself up
The Guardian, article by Laura Cumming, June 30, 2019

Cindy Sherman: The great American artist
The Gentle Woman, article by Heidi Julavits, Spring / Summer 2019

Laufmaschen des Realen
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, article by Kolja Reichert, February 17, 2019

Die Kunst der ewigen Verwandlung
Berliner Morgenpost, article by Gabriela Walde, January 31, 2017

Cindy Sherman
Pinault Collection Magazine Abigail, article by Solomon-Godeau, April – September 2018

Zeige deine Altersflecken
Süddeutsche Zeitung, article by Catrin Lorch, January 28/29, 2017

Cindy Sherman. The Broad
Artforum International, article by Jan Tumlir, November 2016

Cindy Sherman Takes On Aging (Her Own)
The New York Times, article by Blake Gopnik, April 21, 2016

Die Frau mit den Tausend Gesichtern
Zeitmagazine, article by Christoph Amend, September 17, 2015

An Unlikely Conversation with Cindy Sherman
Musée Magazine, interview, June 14, 2012

Biography

Cindy Sherman (*1954 in New Jersey) lives and works in New York. Selected solo exhibitions include Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2021, upcoming), National Portrait Gallery, London (2019), Fosun Foundation, Shanghai (2018), The Broad, Los Angeles (2016), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (all 2012), Dallas Museum of Art (2013), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (both 2007), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Jeu de Paume, Paris (both 2006) and Serpentine Gallery, London (2003). Selected group exhibitions include Hayward Gallery, London (2018), National Portrait Gallery, London, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (both 2017), National Gallery of Art, Washington (2016), Tate Modern, London (2015), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2012) and MUMOK, Vienna (2011). She participated in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).

Education
1976 State University College, Buffalo, NY
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2010 Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Arts
2009 National Artist Honoree, The Anderson Ranch Arts Centre
2005 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award Honoree at New Museum of Contemporary Art Annual Benefit Gala
2003 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Award
2002 The National Arts Award
2001 New York State Governor’s Arts Awards
2000 The Hasselblad Foundation
U.S. Art Critics Association
1999 Goslar Kaiserring Prize
1997 Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis (Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig)
1995 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
1993 Larry Aldrich Foundation Award, Connecticut
1989 Skowhegan Medal for Photography, Maine
1983 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship
1977 National Endowment for the Arts
Public Collections
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Art Institute of Chicago
Australian National Gallery, Canberra
Baltimore Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
Des Moines Art Center
Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Israeli Museum, Israel
Kunsthaus, Zurich
Kunsthalle Hamburg
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Louisana Museum, Humlebaek
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal
Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Museum of Art, CarnÈgie Institute, Pittsburgh
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Luxembourg
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Sprengel Museum, Hanover
St. Louis Art Museum
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Tamayo Museum, Mexico City
Tate, London
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York