Cindy Sherman

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Cynthia "Cindy" Morris Sherman (born January 19, 1954 in Glen Ridge , New Jersey ) is an American artist and photographer . She is best known for her photo series, in which she conceptually deals with questions of identity , role models , physicality and sexuality .


Cindy Sherman has been in Glen Ridge in the US state of New Jersey and grew up in Huntington in New York , the youngest of five children. Her father, a passionate camera collector, worked as an engineer and her mother as a teacher .

She got her first camera when she was ten . In the fall of 1972 she began studying at the State University of New York's Art Department in Buffalo . At first she was interested in painting , drawing and sculpture , but she quickly discovered photography as an artistic medium . A catalog raisonné of the photographic works created at the university was published in 2012. During her student days, she and her friends Charles Clough and Robert Longo initiated the independent artist gallery Hallwalls in Buffalo in 1974 , which still exists today and in which she exhibited for the first time in 1976. Sherman is now attributed to the Pictures Generation , which includes Louise Lawler , Barbara Kruger , Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince , among others . Sherman was not among the five artists in the group exhibition Pictures , curated by art critic Douglas Crimp in 1977 and which marked the beginning of the Pictures generation. However, Douglas Crimp mentioned them in his revised version of the catalog text for Pictures , which appeared in the art magazine October in 1979 .

She graduated from college in 1976 and then moved to New York City , where she still lives and works today. She was married twice to the video artist Michel Auder , but both marriages were divorced. He is the only one who appears in her pictures besides herself. She was in a relationship with the musician David Byrne from 2007 to 2011 . Sherman has no children.

In 1999, ARTnews magazine selected her as one of the “10 best living artists” (issue 98/11, December 1999).

Sherman's photographs are among the most expensive works on the photography art market . 2007, the auction house Christie's work for 2.85 million US dollars auctioned. In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted a large-scale exhibition entitled Cindy Sherman. A retrospective .



A common thread that runs through Sherman's work are photographic self-portraits and self- portraits in various costumes. The series Untitled AE (1975) and Bus Riders (1976) were created during her student days . Both series were first exhibited in 2000 at the Tate Gallery . With the help of make-up , wigs and different clothes, Sherman gave himself a different look for each photograph. For Bus Riders , she disguised herself as people of different ages, skin colors and social backgrounds. Like a passenger in a bus, each of these fictional people sits on a chair in front of a bare wall. Even in her earliest photographs, she role-played down to the smallest detail of posture.

Sherman's best-known work is probably the so-called Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980). The series initially consisted of 69 numbered but not individually titled photographs. With the publication of the work catalog The Complete Film Stills by MoMA 2003, another original, previously missing contact sheet entitled Untitled Film Still # 62 was discovered and placed in the series. Since then, the series has comprised 70 photographs in which Sherman stages himself as a model in various, fictional film scenes ( film stills ). The black-and-white photographs resemble the dramatic, striking frames of B-movies of the 1940s and 50s and are also inspired by American film noir and films from Italian neorealism. Sherman depicts different, stereotypical roles that have become anchored in society through the film on her Untitled Film Stills , with each picture showing a new role. A print of the complete series was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in December 1995 for the record price of over one million dollars and was honored with a solo exhibition in 1997.

At the same time, the colored rear screen projections (1980) were created, the staging of which is very similar to the “film stills”. Sherman used the cinematic technique of rear projection to make the background of the scene appear flat and artificial.

In 1981, Sherman's colored and large-format center folds were shown for the first time in the Metro Pictures Gallery in New York . The Artforum -Redakteurin Ingrid Sischy commissioned Sherman in 1981 to establish an image for a double page of the magazine. Sherman stuck to her theme of self-presentation, but used it more provocatively. The camera was directed downwards from a bird's eye view , where Sherman crouched or lay as a model in various disguises and poses on the floor. The view of the camera suggests dominance , while the model appears fearful, submissive or dreamy. The poses remember purposely to Playboy - Centerfolds . The pictures were not printed because the magazine's editor feared they could be misunderstood as sexist .

I definitely wanted to provoke with these images, but it was more about getting men to rethink their assumptions about how they look at pictures of women. I was thinking of a vulnerability that would make a male viewer feel uncomfortable, like seeing his daughter in a vulnerable position. [...] It only became clear to me later that there would be a range of interpretations that I cannot control and also do not want to control because that makes it interesting for me. But I was disturbed that my intentions could be misunderstood, so I tried to make them clearer in the next series.

The so-called Fashion Photos (1983–1984) followed. They are less forced and play more subtly with the social stereotypes of femininity .

In the History Portraits (1988–1990), Sherman presented himself as a historical painting in the style of Old Masters . Sherman used pictures of Caravaggio , among others, as a template , but specific templates cannot be identified in all cases. The make-up is often deliberately applied very roughly; she uses buckled prostheses for bare breasts .

With the History Portraits , she applied her central theme of costumes and role play to art history. It is possible to see them as a commentary on the role of women in the history of art - women mostly appear only as models exposed to the painter's gaze and, indirectly, to that of the contemporary observer. At the same time, Sherman also commented on her own position in art history : as a woman, she was now allowed to use the historical fund of art history and make the pictures her own (see Appropriation Art ). In terms of the artistic complexity of Sherman's paintings, it had reached a climax.

Disasters and Sex Pictures

A second focus of Sherman's work as an artist is the image of the body . This interest was clearly evident in the Disasters series (1985–1989). For the first time, Sherman no longer appeared in her pictures herself. Instead, she arranged body part prostheses , rotting food, body exudates, soil, and trash into grotesque studies of decay. The superficial shock effects, which are reminiscent of horror films and almost trigger physical discomfort, have since been part of the repertoire of Sherman's work. According to Sherman, her work on the Disasters began with the disgust for artificially staged bodies in fashion photography, which she perceives as much more alienated and artificial than her own shock images, in which she sees humorous features.

With Sex Pictures (or Mannequin Pictures ) (1992) Cindy Sherman continued her interest in the grotesque and shocking of the body. For the photographs she arranges prostheses , anatomical models and mannequins that simulate sexual acts. The short distance between the camera and the object, the lighting and the arrangement on velvet and satin suggest pornographic images, while the mutilated and grotesque body parts arouse disgust.

In 1997 Sherman directed the feature film Office Killer , a thriller with bloody splatter scenes in which her photographic motif of the dismembered, mutilated body is continued.

Recent work

In an Untitled series from 2000, Sherman again dealt with the ideas of women in society. In front of a neutral background, Sherman posed heavily made up and in various outfits . The women she transforms into are of different skin colors and social backgrounds - businesswoman, housewife , fitness trainer, Native American and others

For her latest project, Clowns (2004), Sherman photographed herself wearing various clown masks , wigs and clown costumes in front of a brightly colored, computer-generated background. According to her own statement, this was about the emotional abysses that a mask can hide and trigger. With this work she continues the motif of costuming, but it also follows on from her extremely emotional shock pictures from the 1990s. After all, the clown is also a horror film - cliché (e.g. in Stephen King's It ).

Exhibitions (selection)

Awards and grants


  • Amada Cruz, Elizabeth AT Smith, Amelia Jones: Cindy Sherman. Retrospective. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Thames and Hudson, New York 1997.
  • Ingvild Goetz (eds.): Jürgen Klauke / Cindy Sherman . Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-89322-674-5 .
  • Rosalind E. Krauss : Cindy Sherman, 1975-1993 . Rizzoli, New York 1993.
  • Arthur Danto: Untitled Film Stills . Rizzoli, New York 1990.
  • Alexander Fechter: Gender in body images. Vienna, 2012
  • Hanne Loreck: Gender Figures and Body Models - Cindy Sherman. Silke Schreiber, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-88960-054-9 .
  • Catherine Morris: Essential Cindy Sherman . Harry N Abrams, New York 2000, ISBN 0-8109-5808-2 .
  • Christa Schneider: Cindy Sherman: History Portraits . Schirmer / Mosel , Munich 1995, ISBN 3-88814-770-0 .
  • Cindy Sherman: A play of selves . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7757-1942-1 .
  • Cindy Sherman. Exhibition catalog. Flammarion, Paris 2006, Prestel, Munich 2006, ISBN 2-08-021051-3 (with an overview of the complete works)
  • Cindy Sherman: clowns . (In cooperation with Kestnergesellschaft Hannover). Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-8296-0168-9 .
  • Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills . Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-8296-0116-6 .
  • Cindy Sherman, Zdenek Felix , Martin Schwander: Photo works 1975-1995 . Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-88814-752-2 .
  • Verena Strehle: The periphery of “Everyday America” in the focus of contemporary American photographers: Gregory Crewdson, Cindy Sherman, Stephen Shore, Taryn Simon, Alec Soth. Dissertation at the Ludwig Maximilians University , Institute for Art History, Munich 2013.
  • Fritz Franz Vogel: The Cindy Shermans, staged identities. Photo stories from 1840 to 2005. Böhlau, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-412-30705-X .
  • Christiane Weidemann, Petra Larass, Melanie Klier (eds.): 50 women artists you should know. Prestel, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-7913-3957-3 , pp. 148-151.
  • Debra N. Mancoff: Women Who Changed Art. Prestel, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7913-4732-5 , pp. 41, 56-57 and 122.
  • National Geographic: Encyclopedia of Photography. 2006, ISBN 978-3-937606-90-3 , pp. 321-324.
  • Pictures Generation, 1974–1984 . Exhibition catalog of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from April 21 to August 2, 2009. Douglas Eklund (Ed.), New York 2009.
  • Windfried Pauleit: Film stills . Passages between art and cinema. Frankfurt am Main / Basel 2004 (dissertation Uni Berlin 2000).
  • Ina Loewenberg: Reflections on Self-Portraiture in Photography. In: Feminist Studies. 25, No. 2, (Sommer) 1999, pp. 398-408.
  • Andreas Kallfelz / Cindy Sherman: "I don't do self-portraits". In: Skyscraper Art Journal. 4, 1984, pp. 45-48.


Director and Actress:

Appearances as Cindy Sherman:

Cindy Sherman was appointed to the jury of the 1999 Venice International Film Festival competition .


The Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura refers to Cindy Sherman in his work.

Web links

Museums about Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman Art Galleries
Interviews with Cindy Sherman

Individual evidence

  1. Gabriele Schor: Cindy Sherman: Das Frühwerk 1975-1977 Catalog raisonné, Hatje Cantz, 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-2980-2 .
  2. ^ Schor, Gabriele., Verbund Collection .: Cindy Sherman: the early works 1975-1977: catalog raisonné . English ed. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-2981-9 .
  3. ^ Schor, Gabriele., Verbund Collection .: Cindy Sherman: the early works 1975-1977: catalog raisonné . English ed. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-2981-9 .
  4. ^ Douglas Crimp: Pictures. In: October, 8 (spring 1979), pp. 75-88, here p. 80.
  5. "Cindy Sherman: Me, myself and I" , interview with Simon Hattenstone in The Guardian , London, January 15, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2019
  6. ibid.
  7. ^ Page of the auction house with a list of works , accessed on November 14, 2011
  8. Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills. Munich 2003, p. 7.
  9. Cindy Sherman. Exhibition catalog of The Museum of Modern Art, New York from February 26 to June 11, 2012. Eva RESPINI (Ed.), Munich 2012, p. 18.
  10. Cindy Sherman's Biography of the Tate Gallery, Web
  11. Cindy Sherman. Exhibition catalog of The Museum of Modern Art, New York from February 26 to June 11, 2012. Eva RESPINI (Ed.), Munich 2012, p. 30.
  12. Cindy Sherman. Exhibition catalog of The Museum of Modern Art, New York from February 26 to June 11, 2012. Eva RESPINI (Ed.), Munich 2012, p. 30.
  13. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, May 15, 2000, Profiles p. 74; Her secret identities , Cindy Sherman's art is as mysterious as ever. That's Cindy Sherman ; Web
  14. Deichtorhallen archive , accessed on August 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Exhibition Sherman Baden-Baden , accessed on August 14, 2015.
  16. ^ Exhibition 2012 Sherman , accessed August 14, 2015.
  17. ^ Announcement on the exhibition , accessed on August 19, 2014.
  18. ZKM website
  19. Verbund art collection
  20. National Portrait Gallery website , accessed August 25, 2019.
  21. ^ Max Beckmann Prize of the City of Frankfurt am Main
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on September 6, 2005 .