Portrait of a Woman

Cindy Sherman Secretary
Untitled (Secretary), 1978 via Artsy
For decades, Cindy Sherman has created captivating photos that are an odd mixture of beauty, mystery and peculiarity. Cindy began creating her works as an artist in the 1970s in New York City. What began as dressing up at home and playing with makeup, turned into the beginnings of her career as an artist, and our invitation as viewers to explore the ideas and identities presented in her work.
Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled #465, 2008 via MoMA
Though they appear to be self-portraits with Cindy in front of the lens, we never truly see the real Cindy. Each image is instead a glimpse into the world of the character she has created. 

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled #410, 2003 via Christie’s

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled #463, 2007-08 via MoMA

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled Film Still #14, 1978 via The Whitney Musuem 

Clown. Debutante. Secretary. Washed up film star. Centerfold. Career girl. Housewife. The list of characters explored by Cindy is seemingly endless. Women have been subject to labels assigned by society and the culture of the given time period. By presenting these various types of women in their sometimes cliche or caricature-like forms, Cindy offers a critique of female identities and stereotypes. 

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled #359, 2000 via MoMA 

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled Film Still #21, 1978 via MoMA 

The photos are a blend of cinematic qualities with performance art and photography, but that does not mean they are always pretty pictures. With stereotypes formed by layers of meaning, Cindy blends the expected, the beautiful and sometimes unsightly qualities of a woman being labeled with a particular stereotype.  

Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled, 2000 via The Garb Wire

Is a woman simply identified by her job? Her tan lines? Her choice of makeup? These aspects of who we are as women often contribute to the labels that others give us. But that doesn’t mean we are confined to any label. Whether the label is true or not, we as women are each comprised of merely the clothes we wear or the job we have, but our life experiences, mindsets, dreams and ideas. 

Each day and choice is an opportunity to shape our own journey and the person we want to be. 
Cindy Sherman photography portrait
Untitled Film Still #84, 1978 via MoMA 


Sources and Further Reading: 
1. “Cindy Sherman” by Eva Respini for The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). 

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