Untitled Film Still #84
Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

1954 - Present

"I like making images that from a distance seem kind of seductive, colorful, luscious and engaging, and then you realize what you're looking at is something totally opposite. It seems boring to me to pursue the typical idea of beauty, because that is the easiest and the most obvious way to see the world. It's more challenging to look at the other side." — Cindy Sherman

Working with what some critics have labeled the "self-portrait of performance," Cindy Sherman nevertheless insists that her works–from movie stills to modern portraits–are not self-portraits, although they all feature her as the main character. Instead, the photographs are studies of many "different" women, broadly drawn and bordering on caricature, but still possessing the delicate details that identify them as familiar types. Made famous by her series Untitled Movie Stills (1977-80), Sherman is represented in the Museum of Contemporary Photography's collection by Untitled (Cosmo Cover Girl) from her series Untitled 2000, which depicts women posing for the camera, appearing at once vulnerable and flamboyant. Sherman achieves these images after hours spent changing her costume (including prosthetics at times), hair, eyebrows, makeup, and lip shape. Only her green eyes remain constant from photograph to photograph. Touching upon gender roles and the female façade, Sherman's photographs examine the societal and cultural roles that we assume, making life simultaneously easier and harder to navigate.

Cindy Sherman was born in New Jersey in 1954. She grew up in Long Island and studied art at the New York State University College, Buffalo, graduating in 1976. Immediately afterwards, she moved to New York City to begin her series Untitled Film Stills, which was exhibited at the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, TX in 1980. Her works have been exhibited at venues throughout the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among others. She has received several awards for her work, including the 1999 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography and a 1995 MacArthur Foundation grant. A major retrospective of her work was organized in 1997 by the Museums of Modern Art in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Text © Museum of Contemporary Photography, 2018