Having never heard of Cindy Sherman before, I was surprised when I first saw her photos. They are unique and to myself standout from your average photographer. Her photos have the human body as the central subject using herself as her own model, however they have a very different edge to them. Sherman recreates herself in various scenarios that parody stereotypes of women. They are taken from popular culture, such as old movies, television soap, and pulp magazines. She started to get noticed in the early 1980s, were she’s held exhibition s across America and Europe. Her photos vary from quite introspect to provocative sensuality, as well as her series in late 1980s that have elements of horror and decay. In her series Untitled Film Stills (1977 – 80) which consisted of sixty-nine small black and white photographs. Sherman was in essence role playing scenarios she had devised feminine stereotypes from films of the 1950s or 60s. Each scene shows a woman, a character that we recognise from popular culture.
Images taken from ‘The Genuius of Photography’ book by Gerry Badger
She’s provoked lots of discussions regarding the representation of women and the series released during the Feminist movement in the 70’s, made her become the touchstone not only for postmodern photography but feminist photography in general. This series was one of the main reasons for Shermans success, as the film still could be enjoyed as much by men as women, partly because the different representation that is portrayed by a female photography rather than a male. She gave a new perspective to females, as most of the images of women throughout history were fabricated by men to be gazed at by other men. A term which is referred to as ‘male gaze’.Sherman had turned the tables on this. However this was not her intention when she set out, for herself she was examining her own concerns – a love of movies, a penchant for dressing up. Which ended up with her creating a body of work that touched on the wider issues concerning representation of women.
Arthur C. Danto an American art critic and philosopher has written: “I can think of no body of work so timeless and yet so much of its own time as Cindy Sherman stills, no oeuvre which addresses us in our common humanity and at the same time includes the most advanced speculations on Post-Modernism, no image which say something profound about the feminine condition and yet touch us at a level beyond sexual difference. They are wry, arch, clever works, smart, sharp, and cool. But they are among the rare works of recent decades that rise to the demand on great art, that it embody the transformative metaphors for the meaning of human reality.”
Danto is championing Sherman for showing the public another more realistic depiction of women. The viewer is forced to reconsider the stereotype and cultural assumptions of women in this world.
More about Cindy Sherman can be found on her website, http://www.cindysherman.com.