Cindy Sherman is a feminist postmodern photographer and part of the Pictures Generation. Sherman uses mass communication and advertising to explore gender and identity. From the beginning, Sherman used photography as a means to record herself dressing up and playing roles. She poses for all the photographs herself, acting as both creator and subject. She created black and white photographs that simulate stills from the movies of the 1940s and 1950s in her seminal early series “Untitled Film Stills” 1977-1980. Each photograph has a backdrop from a well-known movie and shows Sherman herself as the single female figure – not just telling a story – but making a parody of the female role models from her childhood. In 1980, she made large-scale, color photographs of what she calls contemporary ‘characters’.
Starting in 1989, Sherman produced a number of “History Portraits” using herself as the model in parodies of Old Master paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Carravagio, and Ingres. She explored not only self-portraiture but the whole genre of portrait-making where a sitter’s status is conveyed by attire, education, and his ability to pay for a full-length portrait.
Sherman’s “Untitled” 2002/2008 depicts herself against a background which was photographed separately and is often blurred to enhance the theatrical nature of the shot. In addition, Sherman’s genre includes horror and pornography as she uses prosthetics that are both humorous and disturbing.
Over the course of her career, Sherman has had major solo exhibitions worldwide. She had a major retrospective at MoMA in 2013. She has won the Guild Hall Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in the same year.
Her works are held in important museums collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and Tate Gallery among others.