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Art Index: Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman - Witch 1986 - Caviar 20

I didn’t want to make “high” art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”

Cindy Sherman


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954) is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential artists in contemporary art. Her interest in visual arts started while attending college (SUNY Buffalo) where she began to devote herself to painting and subsequently photography. Together with Longo (Companion of studies), Charls Clough and other artists she founded the Hallwalls art gallery.

Throughout her career, she has presented a sustained, eloquent, and provocative exploration of the construction of contemporary identity and the nature of representation, drawn from the unlimited supply of images from movies, TV, magazines, the Internet, and art history. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has captured herself in a range of guises and personas which are at turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting. To create her photographs, she assumes multiple roles of photographer, model, makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, and wardrobe mistress. With an arsenal of wigs, costumes, makeup, prosthetics, and props, Sherman has deftly altered her physique and surroundings to create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from screen siren to clown to aging socialite (Cindy Sherman | MoMA).

In 1995, Sherman was the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowships, known as the "Genius Awards." In 2006 she created a series of fashion advertisements for designer Marc Jacobs.

Cindy Sherman – Untitled Film Still #71, 1980

Throughout her career, Sherman has worked on different series and projects:

The “Untitled Film Stills” are a photographic series of 69 black and white small format images. Sherman acts as both "director" and leading actress of the series, within which she intends to evoke the cinematic imaginaries of the fifties and sixties. Sherman creates a stage in which the images of Hollywood cinema are compared with the images of its European counterpart, by reproducing, in both cases, the visual aspects that characterizes them.

The cycle "A Play of Selves" features the subject of identity change and dwells on the definitions of appearance and gender dictated by photographers. Sherman appears alone in her photographs, playing with disguises while declinating the meaning of self as the embodiment of different entities and underlining the fragility of one's ego in the face of the mechanisms of identification and social recognition.

"Untitled film stills" sees Sherman recreating cinematographic frames while staging an action made by a stereotypical image of the of American actress in cinema. This is quickly followed by "Rear Screen Projection" (1980).

Sherman also works in the fashion field, collaborating in 1983 with Interview magazine, Marc Jacobs, and Jurgen Teller. Since 1985, with the cycle "Fairytales", and "Disasters", Sherman start to introduce a new element in her work: the mannequins; initially used to recall the world of toys in a grotesque way, they soon become the protagonists in her cycle of works called the "Sex pictures". Her work has been the subject of many museum exhibitions, including those at The Museum of Modern Art in 2019, and at the National Portrait Gallery, in London in 2019. Sherman lives and works in New York, NY.


According to Sherman’s turnover in 2020 is $1,032,095 with the last peak in price dated 2008.

Most of his works were sold in the range of $100,000-$500,000.

Distribution by price (by Artprice)

Not very enthusiastic about organic or monstrous series, collectors favor the pictures taken between 1977 and 1989 (Untitled Film Stills and Centerfolds / Horizontals). In 2014, a batch of 21 silver prints from the acclaimed Untitled Film Stills series was snapped up for $ 6.8 million, surpassing Andreas Gursky’s peak by more than two million (Rhein II).

Two photographs of the artist will be up for Auction at the 80th Anniversary Charity Art Auction to Benefit the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida courtesy of Sotheby's from 25 jan 2021 to 08 feb 2021.


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