(b Glenn Ridge, NJ, 1954).
American photographer. While still growing up she was drawn to the
television environment of the 1960s and fascinated by disguise and make-up.
She studied art at Buffalo State College (1972–6), concentrating on
photography, which she maintained is the appropriate medium of expression in
our media-dominated civilization. Her photographs are portraits of herself
in various scenarios that parody stereotypes of woman. A panoply of
characters and settings is drawn from sources of popular culture: old
movies, television soaps and pulp magazines. Sherman rapidly rose to
celebrity status in the international art world during the early 1980s with
the presentation of a series of untitled ‘film stills’ in various group and
solo exhibitions across America and Europe. Among 130 ‘film stills’ taken
between 1978 and 1980 are portraits of Sherman in the role of such screen
idols as Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. While the mood of Sherman’s early
works ranges from quiet introspection to provocative sensuality, there are
elements of horror and decay in the series from 1988–9. Studies from the
early 1990s make pointed caricatures of characters depicted through art
history, with Sherman appearing as a grotesque creature in period costume.
Her approach forms an ironic message that creation is impossible without the
use of prototypes; identity lies in appearance, not in reality. In this, the
artist has assimilated, even while retaining a critical stance, the visual
tyranny of television, advertising and magazines. Sherman’s work has been
categorized with that of Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo and Richard Prince (b
1949). Works are held in the Tate Gallery, London, and the Corcoran Gallery,
Washington, DC, as well as in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan
and Brooklyn museums, New York.