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Introduction to Cindy Sherman

Every photographer and artist opens a door through which the world can be understood. Cindy Sherman’s work is diverse, thought-provoking, and sophisticated. Her sequence of pictures portray different ideas, identities and situations. The enigma evoked by her photography is unique in how the more photographs she makes, the less her identity can be pinpointed. In many of her photographs she appears as her own subject, yet these works are not considered self-portraits. “There is no real Cindy Sherman, only infinite characters who reflect the countless mediated images that bombard us daily. Her work speaks to the conspiratorial role that images play in society’s self-visualization and reinforces the artificial nature of these images. Her pictures remind us about our own complicated relationship to identity and representation, and how the archive of images we carry in our collective imagination informs our vision of the world and, ultimately, our view of ourselves. Sherman’s photographs speak not only to our desire to transform and be transformed, but also to our desire for art to transform us.” (Respini, 2012)

Untitled #299 (1994)

This is one of the most difficult to interpret pictures by Cindy Sherman. Her eyes look sore, tired, neglected. She is pointing her left index finger against her head, similarly to holding a gun; whilst her right hand is resting over her lap with a cigarette. Her fashion is translucent, allowing the viewer to see through her clothes. Her expressionism completely absorbs the audience into her work, her mind, and her role as a photographer and model. 

Cindy Sherman’s work has been exhibited in MoMA and interpreted by many great artists. Books have been written as an attempt to understand her perspective. Nevertheless, she remains a mystery, a puzzle.

Untitled #263 (1992)

This is another work where Cindy Sherman leaves the audience reflecting on the possible meaning of the picture. She ties female and male genitalia in a way as if both sexes shared the same hip. Next to the genitalia, male doll heads are seen. What does this picture mean? Only Cindy Sherman knows. 

Untitled Film Still #56 (1992 )

This is the picture at the top of the page. Gelatin silver print, 6 3/8 x 9 7/16″ (16.2 x 24 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder in memory of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd © 2012 Cindy Sherman.

References

My Favorite Cindy Sherman (2017) Youtube playlist, added by The Museum of Modern Art [Online].

Sherman, C. (2003) “The Making of Untitled”, in The Complete Untitled Film Stills. The Museum of Modern Art, 4-16 [Online].

Respini, E. (2012) “Will The Real Cindy Sherman Please Stand Up?”, in Cindy Sherman, The Museum of Modern Art, 12-52 [Online]. 

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