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Cindy Sherman

Text from The Photography Encyclopedia

Sherman, Cindy (1954-): Famed American art photographer

In Sherman's distinctive self-portraits she is dressed up and made up to portray hundreds of different women and occasionally men, but never herself. She says her art deals with female stereotypes, and they are portraits not of how she sees herself but how she sees men seeing women.

Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, she studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo (bachelor of arts, 1976). As a teenager she began to wear makeup to look more glamorous and found that she could turn herself into a different person by changing her appearance. In college she started making photo narratives starring herself.

She moved to New York in 1977, when she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Early recognition came in the late 1970s with a series of black and white photographs called "Untitled Film Stills," showing Sherman as a B movie actress in various poses. She continued pursuing her art and earned her living at the Artists Space gallery. When the Metro Pictures Gallery opened in 1980, Sherman had one of the first shows, of her early color photos. It was the beginning of her success, and today Sherman is one of the highest earning female artists.

Over the years her repertoire of images has included movie stars, centerfold nudes, fairytale characters, victims of disasters, and historical figures. Some of her portraits have produced comic or grotesque effects with plastic body parts, dolls, and her own made up body. Her work has been exhibited worldwide in numerous group and one person shows at such venues as the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Pompidou Center in Paris. Among the collections holding her work are those of the Metropolitan and Brooklyn museums in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London. A selection of her photographs, Cindy Sherman Retrospective (1997), was published in conjunction with a major traveling exhibit.


 


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