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Cindy Sherman


Pub. date: 27 June 2019
Price: £35
ISBN: 978 1 85514 7126
Format: 315 x 240mm
Extent: 256pp
Illustrations: Approx. 250
Binding: Hardback
Category: Photography
Word count: 20,000 words

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This book, which accompanies a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, considers Cindy Sherman’s oeuvre through the lens of portraiture. Featuring key examples of her work – from her earliest photographs through to her most recent – it explores the mercurial relationship between appearance and reality.


I’m good at using my face as a canvas … I’ll see a photograph of a character and try
to copy them on to my face. I think I’m really observant, and thinking how a person is put together, seeing them on the street and noticing subtle things about them that make them
who they are.
— Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is among the most influential artists of her generation. Using herself as model, wearing a range of costumes and portraying herself in invented situations, she interrogates the imagery employed by the mass media, popular culture and fine art. Television, advertising, magazines, film, fashion and Old Master paintings all form part of her visual language.

Whether using make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to manipulate her own
appearance, or devising elaborate tableaux, her entire body of 40 years’ work constitutes
a highly distinctive response to contemporary and earlier culture, whose stylistic tropes
she appropriates and quotes. This book will explore the rich cultural sources that Sherman plunders in creating provocative and ambiguous images that lead us to question the things
we see.

Sherman’s work is surveyed through two related themes. Examining Sherman’s art within the context of portraiture it explores the way that identity is constructed from appearance. It also considers the nature of Sherman’s involvement with a range of styles by positioning her work in the context of the pre-existing imagery that she appropriates.


Paul Moorhouse is an independent curator and writer. Formerly Curator of Twentieth-Century Portraits and Head of Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery, London, his publications include Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends (2017), Giacometti: Pure Presence (2015), The Great War in Portraits (2014), Cindy Sherman (2014), A Guide to Twentieth Century Portraits (2013), The Queen Art & Image (2011), Bridget Riley: From Life (2010), Gerhard Richter Portraits: Painting Appearances (2009) and Pop Art Portraits (2007).

Erika Balsom is a critic and senior lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College and regularly contributes to Frieze, Artforum, Art Monthly and Sight and Sound. Magda Keaney is Senior Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Rochelle Steiner is Associate Director and Chief Curator of Vancouver Art Gallery.