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Cheat Sheet on Cindy Sherman
The 111 on an art world icon
Art Girls Jungle 20 Jul 2019

We all know Cindy Sherman. The icon of modern art is famed for her shape-shifting self-portraits and has been making a splash on the scene since the 1970s. And, as London’s National Portrait Gallery opens a major retrospective, we thought that it’s about time we gave you a run down of all the Cindy facts you need to know.


She turned to Photography To Confront Female Stereotypes
Born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, Sherman first picked up the camera at the end of the 1970s to call into question the ways women were stereotyped as the girl-next-door in advertising, fashion and Hollywood. Asking her audience why they view women in a sexualised way.


She Began Working In Black And White
Sherman’s first works Complete Untitled Film Stills – a series of 69 photographs – were shot on black and white film. She didn’t introduce colour until the 1980s.


As A Child She Loved To Dress Up
Sherman is the subject in nearly all of her images. She uses make up and clothes to transform herself into different characters. Word has it that as a kid she loved to play dress up (didn’t we all), proving that it is possible to bring in your favourite childhood past times into your work.

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Warhol Was A Fan
It is reported that Andy Warhol wrote in the comments at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that Sherman is “good enough to be a real actress.”


She Has Always Attracted Attention
In the ten-year period since 1980 she had over 30 solo shows across the US, with more than 100 articles in publications including Vogue, Art Forum and the Wall Street Journal, and she continues to grace the covers of magazines today, including Gentle Woman and many more. In fact, as the times have changed, she continues to grab the spotlight through social media, using it as an extension to her art. I mean, check out her Instagram!


She Questions The Magic In Fairy Tales
Now that we’ve grown up, we all realise that most fairy tales are messed up. Beauty and the beast, I mean really?! Sleeping Beauty, as if! In the 1980s she made a series of images – Sex Pictures – that look at the horror and violence in fairy tales. The images used mannequins and prosthetics, and even body parts found at medical schools, which she used to question the sexual tendencies of society.


She Turned To The Old Masters For Inspiration
In the Historical Portraits series she dressed up as figures in artworks by Raphael and Caravaggio. In Untitled a 228 she subverted the image of Salome and the head of John the Baptist by holding a knife and the severed head of a man.


She Juxtaposed How Women Were Depicted In Art With The Reality of How Women Are Actually Treated
In Untitled a 204 Sherman plays on Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Madame Moitessier. In Ingres’ image a woman lies elegantly on a sofa, but in Sherman’s image she is bruised, and her jewellery is less refined.


Despite The Art Market’s Crash In The 1990s, Her Work Commands Millions
The Museum of Modern Art purchased the complete Untitled Film Stills for $1 million during this time, and since then duplicates of the series have been sold at auction for significantly higher.


She’s Also Made Films
In 1996 she teamed up with Robert Longo, Julian Schnabel and David Salle to direct a film about an office worker turned serial killer for Miramax.
 
Images via @virtumagazine, @sophia.elmokhtar, @artsccapesuk, @bbcarts, @anothermagazine, @tdckilas, @affordableartfairnyc, @shadooneh, @raffystoned, @sarahpovey
 

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