The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Here is a beginner’s guide to the enigmatic artist.

The Master of disguise

Sherman is famous for her use of make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to create complex and ambiguous photographic images. She invents fictitious characters, photographing herself in imaginary situations, inhabiting a world of pure appearance.

 Cindy Sherman posing on floor

Untitled #92 by Cindy Sherman, 1981. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

“Her imagery is based on film, fashion, and other popu­lar culture forms, and her characters have ranged from realistic to seemingly familiar to absurd – while each being fictitious.”

- Rochelle Steiner

Untitled Film Stills

In the Summer of 1977, shortly after moving to New York, Cindy Sherman began a series of black and white photographs that would prove to be a defining moment in her artistic career – Untitled Film Stills.

Never before seen in the UK, until now, Sherman’s ground-breaking series comprises of 70 images. With the artist herself as model wearing a range of costumes and hairstyles, her black and white images captured the look of 1950s and 60s Hollywood, film noir, B movies and European art-house films.

Imitating the style of film stills, Sherman appears as a succession of characters in dramatic situations that hint at stories. Deliberately ambiguous, the photographs engage the viewer by inviting individual interpretation.

 Cindy Sherman posing near buildings

Untitled Film Still #21 by Cindy Sherman, 1978. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

These enigmatic works announced the arrival of a compelling artistic personality and yet, by presenting herself as an actress, Sherman simultaneously retreated behind the personae she created.

– Paul Moorhouse, Exhibition Curator

The Studio

Where does it all happen?

Sherman lives and works in New York and her studio practice is essentially solitary. Modern culture and mass media have always fascinated the artist, and the internet along with printed publications are a rich source for ideas.

Later Work

Other key series and works include Rear Screen Projections, Centrefolds, History Portraits, Fairy Tales, Sex Pictures, Masks, Headshots, Clowns and Society Portraits.

 Cindy Sherman film still with makeup posing in pebbled floor

Untitled Film Still #546 by Cindy Sherman, 2010/12. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

 

No other artist, as Exhibition Curator Paul Moorhouse explains,

interrogates the illusions presented by modern culture in such a penetrating way - or scrutinises so tellingly the façades that people adopt.  Probing the elusive connection between appearance and meaning, her work explores contemporary life – and with sharp observation exposes its deceptions.

Cindy Sherman opens 27 June. Book now: www.npg.org.uk/cindysherman

Comments

Got something to say?

Ricky M Fairs

17 July 2019, 18:20

One of the most disturbing art exhibitions I have ever seen and one which also sometimes made me laugh out loud.

Andy

10 July 2019, 13:38

Was Cindy a girl from the suburbs who move to New York,dressing ‘down’ to fit in?

Jerry Helman

09 July 2019, 13:34

Untitled Film Still #21 So evocative I love her early work. I wonder what comments Hitchcock would have made?

C. Grey

02 July 2019, 23:15

Love her work! Got my tickets booked, can’t wait to see the exhibition!

Tracy Burgoyne

20 June 2019, 18:15

Incredible photographic artist. My influence through college and university. Can't wait to see the exhibition.

Make a Comment

Comments are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can contact you to let you know when your comment has been approved.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.