Cindy Sherman (American Photographer)



2015-06-26 11:23:31

Cindy Sherman (born January 19, 1954) is an American photographer and film director best known for her conceptual portraits. She is particularly noted for embodying the role of both subject and photographer.

The philosophy behind Sherman's work is the aim to challenge established roles and representations of women in art, in media and in society. Her photograph Untitled #96 (1981), at its time of sale in May 2011, held the record for the highest price paid for a photograph, at $3,890,500.


Sherman was born in New Jersey, but her family moved to Long Island shortly after her birth. She became interested in the visual arts at Buffalo State College and began painting. However, this art form began to frustrate her with its limitations and so she took up photography. Her tutor Barbara Jo Revelle introduced her to conceptual art and other contemporary forms.

Buffalo in the late 1970s was a model laboratory for artists interested in dismantling boundaries between media. It was at this time, encouraged by both a dislike of using her course mates as subjects, and her friend Robert Longo suggesting she record the act of getting ready for a party, that she began the process of what would become distinctive to her style: photographing herself in various different guises.

Photographic style and philosophy

Sherman works alone to achieve her photographs: directing the shot, designing the set, producing elaborate costumes and make-up, modelling them herself and of course taking the photographs to produce snapshots that challenge ideas of identity and photograph as truth. Much of her work, particularly the 1981 Centerfolds, examines female stereotyping in the media.

Sherman says of her photographs: "I'm good at using my face as a canvas… I'll see a photograph of a character and try to copy them on to my face. I think I'm really observant, and thinking how a person is put together, seeing them on the street and noticing subtle things about them that make them who they are."

Sherman uses various visual forms to achieve her unique style and direct messages, including film stills, fashion photography, historical portraits, soft-core sexual images and centerfolds.

Famous and Notable Works

  • Bus Riders (1976/2000) are a series of detailed voyeuristic photographs featuring the artist as several different characters, observed while waiting for a bus.
  • The Complete Untitled Film Stills, (1977–1980) was a landmark series in which Sherman depicted lesser known actresses of B-movies, foreign films and film noirs.
  • Untitled Film Stills, 1977–1980, which made Sherman's name internationally, consists of 69 black and white photographs, and again is reminiscent of 1940s, 50s and 60s film noir.
  • Centerfolds/Horizontals, 1981, was inspired by the center spreads in fashion and pornographic magazines.

Notable Auction Sales

  • In 2010, Sherman’s six foot chromogenic color print Untitled #153 (1985) was sold by Phillips de Pury & Company for a record $2.7 million.
  • In 2011, a print of Untitled #96 fetched $3.89 million dollars at Christie's, making it the most expensive photograph at that time.


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