Cindy Sherman: Before the Selfie

by: Ellen C. Caldwell
for JSTOR Daily

Los Angeles’ Broad Museum launches its first special exhibition this month, featuring a survey of American photographer Cindy Sherman’s work. In “Imitation of Life,” curator Philipp Kaiser presents viewers with a comprehensive collection of Sherman’s photography. Using herself as the model in most all of her photographs, Cindy Sherman plays with female identity as presented in the media, fashion, films, and her own imagination.

Betsy Sussler interviewed Sherman in 1985, exploring her artistic process, motivations, and goals. As Sussler summarizes, Sherman’s photography moved from “mimicry” of films from the 50’s and 60’s in her untitled film stills, to lone photographs with Sherman mugging emotively for the camera without the distraction or pretense of props, to her more flamboyant and over-the-top fashion series.In our selfie-obsessed world, a career’s worth of untitled self-portraiture might not seem that monumental, but Sherman began working back in the late 70’s. Her self-portraits have influenced not only the discipline of photography as a whole, but also the fields of women’s studies and art history; she has irrevocably affected the way we visually analyze and deconstruct the female representation in American media.

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