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