Cindy Sherman Biography
I am writing this biography on Cindy Sherman for the same reason I wrote about Diane Arbus. I simply adore her! I didn’t even know of her existence until about a year ago, when one of my Facebook friends commented on one of my self-portraits as being “very Cindy Shermanesque”. I of course had to Google her, and was instantly fascinated.
Cindy Sherman was born on January 19, 1954. Her early family life was actually devoid of the arts, as her parents showed little interest in such things. She developed an attraction to art and photography in her teen years and went on to study both in college. Interestingly, she initially failed her photography courses and therefore chose to study painting instead. She was to later meet a photography instructor who imparted the deeper meaning and artistic aspect of photography, and encouraged her to look beyond the technical aspects of the field. She then continued to pursue photography, since she preferred the immediacy of the images produced by a camera over the longer and much more laborious process of painting.
Her main goal after her 1976 graduation was to create a truly unique portfolio. She chose to compose her portfolio of nothing but self-portraits, which were all highly unconventional for the time. The public release of her portfolio, four years later, immediately launched her into fame. The self-portraits contained within her portfolio came to be known as “Film Stills”, and formed a new kind of portrait photography called “conceptual portrait photography”. These Film Stills, which were started in 1977, basically place Cindy Sherman as an actress in series of B-movies. While they are known as “self-portraits”, Cindy Sherman prefers them to be known as “types” and feels that they represent female archetypes such as the archetypal housewife, the prostitute, the woman in distress, the woman in tears, the dancer, and the actress.
Here are some of her famous Film Still images:
Cindy Sherman later produced another well known body of work, in which she placed herself in roles from various famous paintings. The “History Portraits” as they are called by the photographer herself, were mostly taken while she lived abroad. Many of the images feature her wearing prosthetic body parts.
Here is a photo from the “History Portraits” series: