Cindy Sherman (born January 19, 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey) is an American photographer and film director of the office killer, best known for her conceptual portraits. Sherman currently lives and works in New York City. In 1995, she was the recipient of a MacArthur Award.
Cindy Sherman was born on January 19, 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, USA. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to the township of Huntington
, Long Island.
Sherman became interested in the visual arts at Buffalo State College, where she began painting. Frustrated with what she saw as the medium's limitations, she abandoned the form and took up photography. "[T]here was nothing more to say [through painting]," she later recalled. "I was meticulously copying other art and then I realized I could just use a camera and put my time into an idea instead." She spent the rest of her college career focused on photography. Though Sherman had failed a required photography class as a freshman, she repeated the course with Barbara Jo Revelle, whom she credits with introducing her to conceptual art and other contemporary forms. While in college she met Robert Longo, and together with Charles Clough, created Hallwalls, an arts center.
Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. For example, in her landmark 69 photograph series, the Complete Untitled Film Stills
, (1977-1980) Sherman appeared as B-movie
, foreign film and film noir
style actresses. Sherman's most recent series, dated 2003, features her as clowns. Although Sherman does not consider her work feminist
, many of her photo-series, like the 1981 "Centerfolds," call attention to the stereotyping
of women in films, television and magazines.
In response to the NEA funding controversy involving photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, Sherman produced the Sex series in 1989. These photographs featured pieced-together medical dummies in flagrante delicto. Like much of Sherman's work, many critics find the series both disturbing and funny.
In her work, Sherman is both revealed and hidden, named and nameless. She explained to the New York Times in 1990, "I feel I'm anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren't self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear."
In 2006, The Jeu de Paume museum in Paris hosted an exhibition of Sherman's works, “Cindy Sherman: A Retrospective.” It included works spanning 30 years from 1975 to 2005.
What emerges through these images is a subtle analysis of individual identity, both the fantasies that it generates and the forces that shape it. This immersion in the uncertain, conflictual zones where individual identity struggles with the collective imaginary, stereotypes and issues of symbolic power, can be either playful or—when it touches on horror and repulsion, on the decay and dismembering of the body—very dark.
The Untitled Film Stills
The Untitled Film Stills
are all black and white photos in which Sherman places herself as an unnamed actress in shots reminiscent of foreign films, Hollywood pictures, B-movies
, and film noir
. Sherman used her own possessions as props, or sometimes borrowed, as in Untitled Film Still #11
in which the doggy pillow belongs to a friend. The shots were also largely taken in her own apartment.
The Untitled Film Stills
fall into several distinct groups:
- The first six are grainy and slightly out of focus (e.g. Untitled #4), and each of the 'roles' appears to be played by the same blonde actress.
- The next group was taken in 1978 at Robert Longo's family beach house on the north fork of Long Island. (Sherman met Longo during her sophomore year, and they were a couple until late 1979)
- Later in 1978, Sherman began taking shots in outdoor locations around the city. E.g. Untitled Film Still #21
- Sherman later returned to her apartment, preferring to work from home. She created her version of a Sophia Loren character from the movie Two Women. (E.g. ''Untitled Film Still #35 (1979))
- She took several photographs in the series while preparing for a trip to Arizona with her parents. Untitled Film Still #48 (1979), also known as The Hitchhiker, was shot at sunset one evening during the trip.
- The remainder of the series was shot around New York, like Untitled #54, often featuring a blonde victim typical of film noir.
In addition to her film stills, Sherman has appropriated a number of other visual forms— the centerfold, fashion photograph, historical portrait, and soft-core sex image. These and other series, like the 1980s "Fairy Tales and Disasters" sequence, are shown at the Metro Pictures Gallery
in New York City
In 2006, Sherman created a series of fashion advertisements for designer Marc Jacobs. The advertisements themselves were photographed by photographer Juergen Teller and released as a monograph on April the 4th by Rizzoli.
In the early 1990s, Sherman worked with Minneapolis band Babes in Toyland, photographing covers for the albums Fontanelle and Painkillers, creating a stage backdrop used in live concerts, and acting in the promotional video for the song "Bruise Violet."
Sherman has also worked as a film director
; her first film was Office Killer
in 1997, starring Jeanne Tripplehorn
, Molly Ringwald
and Carol Kane
. She played a cameo role
in John Waters
' film, Pecker
In 1995, Sherman was the recipient of one of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowships
, popularly known as the "Genius Awards." This fellowship grants $500,000 over five years, no strings attached, to important scholars in a wide range of fields, to encourage their future creative work.
Sherman has been referenced by the electroclash artists Chicks on Speed in the track "Spoken by Stephanie from Marseille, Yes I Do" from the 2000 K Records album The Re-Releases of the Un-Releases. The song refers to Sherman through the lyrics, "...got more faces than Cindy Sherman." Sherman was also the topic of the song "Cindy of a Thousand Lives", from Billy Bragg's 1991 album Don't Try This at Home.
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies' song "Grand Mal" contains a reference to Sherman's work in the description of the narrator's love interest: "She takes Cindy Sherman pictures/And she cuts herself."
She's also the subject of The Shermans' song, "Cindy Sherman".
Singer Róisín Murphy has admitted the music video for her song You Know Me Better is inspired by Sherman, as well as to having been influenced by her visual style thoughout her career.
- (2006). Cindy Sherman. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-52463-5.
- (2007) Cindy Sherman: A Play of Selves.Hatje Cantz. ISBN 978-3775719421.
- (2006) Cindy Sherman: Working Girl.Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis. ISBN 978-0971219588.
- (2004) Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds. Skarstedt Fine Art. ISBN 0-9709090-2-0.
- (2003) Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills. Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-507-5.
- (2002) Elisabeth Bronfen, et.al. Cindy Sherman: Photographic Works 1975-1995 (Paperback). Schirmer/Mosel. ISBN 3-88814-809-X.
- (2001) Early Work of Cindy Sherman. Glenn Horowitz Bookseller. ISBN 0-9654020-3-7.
- (2000) Leslie Sills, et.al. In Real Life: Six Women Photographers. Holiday House. ISBN 0-8234-1498-1.
- (2000) Amanda Cruz, et.al. Cindy Sherman: Retrospective (Paperback). Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-27987-X.
- (1999) Essential, The: Cindy Sherman. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., ISBN 0-8109-5808-2.
- (1999) Shelley Rice (ed.) Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-68106-4.
Film and video
- Cindy Sherman [videorecording] : Transformations. by Paul Tschinkel; Marc H Miller; Sarah Berry; Stan Harrison; Cindy Sherman; Helen Winer; Peter Schjeldahl; Inner-Tube Video. 2002, 28 minutes, Color. NY: Inner-Tube Video.
- Two filmmakers completed a feature documentary, Guest of Cindy Sherman, about one of the filmmakers former relationship with Sherman. She was initially supportive, but later opposed the project.
- Michael Kelly, "Danto and Krauss on Cindy Sherman", In: M. A. Holly & K. Moxey (eds.), Art history, Aesthetics, Visual studies. Massachusetts: Clark Art Institute, 2002.