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Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman Biography

born Glen Ridge, NJ (USA) 1954

Cindy Sherman (born January 19, 1954) is a world-renowned American artist, currently working in New York. Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, she grew up in Huntington, New York on Long Island. She was educated at University at Buffalo; although she enrolled as a painting student, her exposure to the innovative ideas of her colleagues at the artists' space Hallwalls convinced her to switch to photography, a medium conducive to Conceptual art.

Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes, appearing as B-movie and European art film actresses, for example, in her landmark 70 photograph series, the Untitled Film Stills, (1977-1980). Her most recent series, dated 2003, features Sherman as "Clowns." Although Sherman does not consider her work feminist, many of her photo-series, like the 1982 "Centerfolds," call attention to the stereotyping of women in films, television and magazines. In 1989, in response to cuts to NEA funding and attempts to censor photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, Sherman produced the "Sex" series of photographs featuring pieced-together medical dummies in flagrante delicto. Like much of Sherman's work, many critics find the series both disturbing and funny. Sherman is not only the most successful female artist of the modern era, but one of the most successful artists of either sex in the late twentieth century. She is almost singlehandedly responsible for making the large-format photograph a viable high-art commodity. She has as much influence on younger artists as Andy Warhol did in his era.

Sherman has also worked as a film director; her first film was Office Killer in 1997, starring Jeanne Tripplehorn. She played a cameo role in John Waters' film, Pecker.

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.

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 5 years, no strings attached, to important scholars in a wide range of fields, in order to encourage their future creative work.

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  • 1982 - Cindy Sherman,' The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Bristl, England
  • 1983 - Musee d'Art et d'Industrie de Saint Etienne, France The St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri
  • 1984 - Cindy Sherman, Akron Art Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
  • 1985 - Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster, West Germany
  • 1987 - Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Dallas Museum of Art
  • 1989 - National Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; Waikat Museum fo Art and History, New Zealand
  • 1990 - Padigline d'arte Contempranea, Milan University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1991 - Cindy Sherman, Basel Kunsthalle, Switzerland; Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich
  • 1992 - Muse de Monterrey, Mexico
  • 1993 - Tel Aviv Museum of Art
  • 1994 - Cindy Sherman, ACC Galerie Weimar, Germany
  • 1994 - Cindy Sherman, Manchester City Art Gallery
  • 1994 - Cindy Sherman, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
  • 1995 - Directions: Cindy Sherman-Film Stills, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • 1995 - Projections, Yodessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto
  • 1996 - L'Informe: le Modernisme a Reburs, Centre Gerges Pompidu, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris
  • 1996 - Cindy Sherman, Museum Bymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam
  • 1997 - Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 1997 - Gender Performnce in Photgraphy, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • 1998 - Mirror Images: Women, Surrealism and Self-Representation, MIT List Center, Cambridge, Massachussetts
  • 1998 - Allegries, Seattle Art Museum, Washington
  • 1999 - Gesammelte Werke 1: Zeitgenossische Kunst seit 1968, Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg
  • 2000 - Hasselblad Center, Goteburg, Sweden Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
  • 2001 - Double Life, Generali Foundatin, Vienna, Austria
  • 2001 - Cindy Sherman: Early Works, Studio Guenzani, Milan
  • 2002 - Tableaux Vivants, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna
  • 2003 - Cindy Sherman, Centerfolds, 1981, Skarstedt Fine Art, New York
  • 2003 - Pletskud, Arken Museum for Moderne Kunst, Skovej, Germany
  • 2004 - Fashioning Fiction - In Photographing Since 1990, Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 2004 - The Unseen Cindy Sherman - Early Transformations 1975/1976, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey

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The Unititled 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 possesions 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 Unititled Film Stills fall into several distinct groups:

  • The first six are grainy and slightly out of focus (eg. 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. Eg. Unititled 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. (Eg. Unititled 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 Unititled #54, often featuring a blonde victim typical of film noir.
  • 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.


  • "The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told."
  • "I didn't have any interest in traditional art."
  • "I think Chasz is really sexy and fascinating and I can't WAIT to meet him!"
  • "am fine, though it is hard to think of what kind of work to make at this point, other than decorative, escapist or abstract. I suppose I'll explore one or all of these things."
  • "I didn't want to make high art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn't thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn't want the work to seem like a commodity."
  • "When I do work, I get so much done in such a concentrated time that once I'm through a series, I'm so drained I don't want to get near the camera."
  • "I was feeling guilty in the beginning; it was frustrating to be successful when a lot of my friends weren't. Also, I was constantly being reminded of that by people in my family making jokes."
  • "If I knew what the picture was going to be like I wouldn't make it. It was almost like it was made already.. the challenge is more about trying to make what you can't think of."
  • "The work is what it is and hopefully it's seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I'm not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff."


  • 2006 in Johanna Burton (ed.): 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, 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, In Real Life: Six Women Photographers. Holiday House. ISBN 0-8234-1498-1.
  • 2000 Amanda Cruz, 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.

Quick Facts

  • Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director known for her conceptual self-portraits.
  • Sherman grew up in Huntington, New York on Long Island. She was educated at Buffalo State College, enrolling in the basic studio courses - drawing, painting and photography.
  • Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes.
  • In response to cuts to NEA funding and attempts to censor photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, in 1989 Sherman produced the Sex series.
  • In 2006, Sherman created a series of fashion advertisements for designer Marc Jacobs. The advertisements themselves were photographed by photographer Jurgen Teller and released as a monograph on April the 4th by Rizzoli.
  • 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, " 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".
  • She's also the subject of The Shermans' song, "Cindy Sherman". A documentary, "Guest of Cindy Sherman" is currently in the works about the travails of artist/videographer Paul H-O and his relationship with the great artist (to air on the Sundance Channel in 2008). The feature documentary is directed by H-O and Tom Donahue.
  • Cindy Sherman is credited in the 'thanks' section of Tiny Colour Movies by British artist and musician John Foxx.


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