Cindy Sherman

(Glen Ridge, New Jersey, 1954 - )

North America, American

Cindy Sherman attended State University of New York in Buffalo, where she received her BFA in 1976. Originally a painting student, Sherman found that “there was nothing more to say [through painting]. I was meticulously copying other art and then I realized I could just use a camera to put my time into an idea.” In 1974, while still a student, Sherman joined artists Robert Longo and Charles Clough in the founding of an alternative exhibition space (now a non-profit) called Hallwalls.

When Sherman moved to New York City in 1977, she had already started exploring the idea of casting herself in various roles to create series of photographs, resulting in self-portraits that are not self-portraits. Sherman’s seminal Untitled Film Stills series, shown in the artist’s first solo exhibition at Metro Pictures in 1981, featured female archetypes of 1940s film noir and 1950s and 60s French New Wave films. The same year, Artforum magazine commissioned twelve works, known as the Centerfold series for their horizontal format and female subject. The images suggest multiple narrative possibilities, but are frequently interpreted as feminist works because they seem to respond to the depiction of women in the centerfolds of girlie magazines. Both the Untitled Film Stills and Centerfolds were included in the 1984 Akron Art Museum-organized Cindy Sherman exhibition, which traveled to seven venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sherman’s subsequent bodies of work engage with diverse sources ranging from art history to clowns and obscenity politics. Long considered one of the foremost practitioners of postmodern photography, Sherman has also been associated with the “Pictures Generation” of artists making work that relates to television and mass media representations. As Sherman has stated, “the one thing I’ve always known is that the camera lies.”

Cindy Sherman’s work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. Career highlights include exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (1997 and 2012) and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2003), among others. Her work has been featured at the Venice Biennale in 1982, 1995 and 2011. Among her many awards, Sherman was honored with a “genius” grant from the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1995.

New York, United States

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