Cindy Sherman

"In 1978, at the age of 23, Cindy Sherman began her landmark photographic series Untitled Film Stills [now in the permanent Museum of Modern Art collection, New York City]. In each small-format black and white image, Sherman plays a different role--prim office worker, suburban housewife, glamorous femme fatale--in a minutely staged psychologically intense drama. Although she is the only character in shot, her transformation in each image is so complete that her personal identity disappears, and instead of a series of self-portraits, we have a comprehensive repertoire of 20th-century female stereotypes. "

For most of the 1980s, Sherman continued to use her body as her central prop, working with colour photography to explore aspects of horror, violence , and the grotesque. The Fairy Tales, 1984-86, Disaster Series, 1987-89, and Sex Pictures, 1992, employed an array of prosthetic teeth, snouts and breasts, mysterious liquids, rotting food and anatomically rearranged mannequin limbs to portray nightmarish visions of deformity and scenes of sexual violence, half seen, half imagined.

A palpable tension exists between the pictures' seductive, vividly coloured surfaces and their disgusting, anxiety-producing subject matter. This sense of anxiety is apparent throughout Sherman's work. Her most recent series Untitled features twelve new fictional characters--all over-tanned, over-dressed, heavily made-up women 'of a certain age.' Occupying the narrow terrain between pathos and parody, these large-format colour portraits examine women's attempts to defy, deny or at least slow down old age, while suggesting the small disappointments and minor tragedies embedded in each character's personal history."

Uta Grosenick & Burkhard Riemschneider, Art Now, Taschen, 2002, pp. 288.