Cindy Sherman. A renowned chameleon

Cindy Sherman, United States b.1954 / Untitled #462 2007-08 / Colour photograph mounted on aluminium / Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation/ Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is renowned as a chameleon; her own image is at the centre of an astonishing gallery of character studies, developed over decades. Sherman has positioned photography as one of the most important contemporary art forms, expanding on contemporary society’s recurrent fascination with female appearance, narcissism, cults of celebrity, aspirational culture, and emotional fragility.

Sherman is one of the most recognised and influential artists of our time, who across her career has produced an astonishing number of character studies, experimenting with costume, prosthetics, makeup and digital photography to embellish and manipulate photographs in which she enacts her subjects in highly constructed images.

Consistently featuring in major exhibitions and collections around the world and working alongside prominent fashion houses, Sherman’s practice is both broad and ambitious, and continues to challenge and transform our understanding of photography and the phenomenon of contemporary portraiture.

Cindy Sherman Untitled, 2008 (MP# CS--466)
Cindy Sherman, United States b.1954 / Untitled #466 2008 / Image courtesy: The artist and Metro Pictures, New York / © The artist

Sherman focused on the artist’s return as the model after a long period in which she remained behind the camera. This stage of her career coincides with Sherman’s embrace of digital technologies that allow her to create elaborate backgrounds and work at a more imposing scale.

Sherman’s work sets out to capture the essence of ‘a type’ in her meticulously staged photographs. By posing as her own subject, she is able to enter the characters and explore the humour behind exaggerated stereotypes.

Sherman’s practice is influenced by pop culture, by the characters and types we see every day in an image saturated world. In her works from 2000 onward, the subtle yet poignant treatment of the image reflects her deep understanding of the history of portraiture, the value associated with knowledge and the manufacture of image for cultural and societal status.

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‘Cindy Sherman’ / Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) / 28 May – 3 October 2016