Sherman, Cindy

Sherman, Cindy (Cynthia Morris Sherman), 1954–, American photographer, b. Glen Ridge, N.J. In images in which makeup, costumes, wigs, and the like allow her to take on a variety of guises and roles, Sherman transforms still photography into performance art to explore traditional and pop-cultural myths of femininity. Her work implicitly examines issues of identity and stereotype, representation and reality, the function of mass media, and the nature of portraiture. Untitled Film Stills (1977–80) is a widely acclaimed series of 69 black-and-white works in which she assumed the identities of stock characters from Hollywood B films. A set was acquired (1996) by New York's Museum of Modern Art, which published them in 2003. Turning to color in the 1980s, Sherman continued to use herself as subject matter, sometimes also photographing mannequins or dolls. Her more recent themes have included erotica, mutilation, and decay; her personae, overblown movie divas, characters from grotesque fairy tales and ersatz Old Master paintings, clowns, and high-society matrons. In 2017 she released some 600 Instagram images, including landscapes, everyday scenes, and more than three dozen retouched, distorted selfies, further experiments with self-identity. Sherman also has directed a feature film, the black comedy Office Killer (1997).

See survey of her work by E. Respini and J. Burton (museum catalog, 2012); P. Moorhouse et al., Cindy Sherman (2019).

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