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Photographer, Cindy Sherman was born on January 19, 1954 in Glen Ridge, N.J. She attended State University College at Buffalo, N.Y., majored in art, and received a bachelor’s degree in 1976.
She began work on her Untitled Film Stills in 1977, the same year she moved to New York City. In Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980), Sherman featured herself in different disguises that “resemble stock characters from Hollywood melodramas, providing a Post-modern commentary . . .” that addresses gender stereotypes using the magazine centerfold, the fashion spread, advertising, children’s literature, formal portraiture, historical records, and most recently, mannequins.
In 1981, Sherman had her first one-person exhibition, which made rounds through New York, Chicago and Genoa, Italy. Sherman seemed to have a fresh approach to pop-culture, for her it was a “whole artistic vocabulary, ready-made.” With this she achieved great success entering the art world at the right time, although some critics doubted her work.
During the 1980s more artists began to work in this media and Sherman expanded her work beyond her recreation of “film stills”, which look and function just like the real ones – “designed to lure us into a drama we find all the more compelling because we know it is not real.” To create her characters she uses makeup, wigs, costumes, props, and settings that tell a story and develop roles. “In a way, I’m a Performance artist,” she has mused. “I was influenced more by Performance art than by photography or art.”
Over the years, her work has become more aggressive and the message more obvious to the viewer, although never through the title. Sherman tries to conceal her identity in her work, in which she is often a model for. All but her mannequin and bodily fluid photographs are self-portraits.
She rarely agrees to interviews and being photographed out of character. Feminists have criticized her for not explaining her work of what Sherman biographer Rosalind Krauss describes as the “erotic fetish that clouds every media image of the female.” Sherman explains, “The male half of society has structured the whole language of how women see and think about themselves.”
In 1996, Sherman produced a film, Office Killer, in which a secretary exacts her revenge for corporate downsizing. She has also tackled landscapes, creating disturbing visions that concern everything from eating disorders to sexuality, death, madness, and dismemberment. In 1999 she was named one of the Top 10 Living Artists by ARTnews magazine. She lives in New York.
Her work has been shown in more than 75 solo exhibitions and as part of over 150 group exhibitions. Sixty-four museums collect her prints.
Art and Culture website
Biography from the Archives of AskART.