Cindy Sherman MMoCA Collects

American, 1954

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Cindy Sherman. Photograph by David Seidner. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Film Still #30), gelatin silver print, 1979.

Cindy Sherman is a photographer who uses herself as model. But Sherman's photography is not a matter of traditional self-portraits. She rather casts herself as director and actress. Sherman creates theatrical settings with props and special lighting. She then takes her place in these scenes—transformed by wigs, makeup, and costumes to assume a stereotypical female role. Just as her photographs are artificial realities, so too do viewers become aware of how the roles she feigns are constructed, not natural?the result of social values, not nature. For her subjects she has drawn upon stock types in films, television, commercial advertising, and glamour photography. In more recent work she has explored standardized portrayals of women in myth, fable, and Old Master paintings.

Gaining recognition in the early 1980s, her questioning stance with regard to women and gender issues connects her to feminist art and contemporary art; her large-scale color photographs of staged realities rather than real life are linked to contemporary photography.

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Suggested Readings

Morris, Catherine. The Essential Cindy Sherman. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999.

Cruz, Amanda, et al. Cindy Sherman: Retrospective. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Film Still #30), 1979, gelatin silver print, 7 x 9 1/2 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through the National Endowment for the Arts grant. 1989.040 Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures Gallery.

Cindy Sherman. Photograph by David Seidner. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.