Photographer Cindy Sherman: This is What Made Her Click

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Cindy Sherman

What better way to observe International Lesbian Day than to reconsider the work of photographer Cindy Sherman? Her work — entirely self-portraits in which she can assume any form, male or female — have shaken notions of gender to their foundations. In a new book titled simply “Cindy Sherman,” author Paul Moorhouse tracks her amazing career in words and images.

As Prince (no stranger to gender-bending himself) once sang, “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man; I am something that you’ll never understand.” Sherman has built an entire career toying with that construct.

Worth a Thousand Words

All too often it seems that in this era of Instagram — adrift on a sea of selfies – we’ve lost sight of what portraiture was meant to be. That’s especially true of self-portraits, which (after all) are the more august forerunners of today’s epidemic of children looking into their phone cameras while making duck lips.

Artist Cindy Sherman remains a master of the self portrait, in addition to being one of the most respected artists of her generation with an influence that stretches from the 1970s to the present. Some suggest that her most recognizable works — in which she places herself in identity-redefining disguises and often posed within intricate tableaux — may have presaged the age of social media we’re in now.

Cindy Sherman

(Image Courtesy Rizzoli/Electa)

Seeing Is Believing

Are they still vital? See for yourself. The book traces Sherman’s work from her black and white bust portraits of the 1970s onward. It also includes images from Untitled Film Stills — a collection of stills from an imagined film that lofted her to become an art world sensation.

Readers will also find masterworks from her elaborate History Portraits, in which she takes on the personas of famous historic figures. Completists will be pleased that the anthology rolls right up through such recent Sherman works as Masks and the alluring Flappers.

The book chronicles an exhibition of Sherman’s eye work that appeared at The National Portrait Gallery in London from June through September. A companion book of (simply called Postcards) allows you to share images of the versatile, lesbian artist with friends and fellow art lovers through the mail. Just don’t call them selfies.
Buy the book

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Last modified: October 9, 2019