Untitled Film Still #21

  • Cindy Sherman
  • 1978

Since she burst onto the art scene in the late 1970s, Cindy Sherman the person has always been obscured by Cindy Sherman the subject. Through inventive, deliberately confusing self-portraits taken in familiar but artificial circumstances, Sherman introduced photography as postmodern performance art. From her Untitled Film Stills series, #21 (“City Girl”) calls to mind a frame from a B movie or an opening scene from a long-since-canceled television show. Yet the images are entirely Sherman’s creations, placing the viewer in the role of unwitting voyeur. Rather than capture real life in the click of a shutter, Sherman uses photography as an artistic tool to deceive and captivate. Her images have become some of the most valuable photographs ever produced. By manipulating viewers and recasting her own identity, Sherman carved out a new place for photography in fine art. And she showed that even photography allows people to be something they’re not.

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