Cindy Sherman Biography and Photography

Cindy Sherman (B. 1954) is an American artist who is accomplished in many areas of visual art. She is comfortable being in front and behind the camera and shows that she is unstoppable when it comes to her artistic expression. In this post, we will discuss Cindy Sherman’s photography career, how she got recognised worldwide, and her other accomplishments in the industry. 

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman Biography

Before she became famous for her photographic self-portraits, Cindy Sherman grew up in Long Island with two very different parents. According to the Cindy Sherman Wikipedia

page, she described her mother as ‘good to a fault’ and her father as ‘strict and cruel’. And perhaps these altering parenting styles shaped her into the artist she became. 

Cindy Sherman Photography Career

Cindy Sherman studied at Buffalo State College, where she took classes in visual arts, including painting. She used her time during college to explore expressing herself through fashion. She began experimenting with styling herself in new ways using the clothes she sourced in thrift shops (what we know as charity shops over the pond in the UK). 

Soon after beginning her painting journey, she decided to scrap the idea of being a painter and focus on photography. Cindy Sherman says she felt that photography helped her capture her creative ideas. Whereas when she was focused on painting skills, she would revert to copying the works of other artists. Little did she know that she would become one of the most significant influences in contemporary and portrait photography. 

Cindy Sherman Artworks

As mentioned, Sherman loved experimenting with her clothing choices, which explains why many of her photographs include herself as a model in various costumes. Cindy was often found as the model, stylist, makeup artist, director, and photographer in her shoots. Perhaps she entered an almost meditative flow state when working alone in her studio, where she could jump between roles and create her work entirely by herself. 

Cindy Sherman Art Exhibitions

As she grew up on the East Coast, it is no surprise that Cindy’s first solo exhibition was in New York. Then the famous Cindy Sherman self portrait work titled ‘United Film Stills’ was shown at Sherman’s workplace at the time, the non-profit Artists Space. Then the Cindy Sherman photos began to make their way into the global market as she had her first solo exhibition in Paris. 

In 2016, Sherman was still creating art and produced her first new work in five years. This series was named ‘The Imitation of Life’ and showed a Sherman in glamour portraits inspired by ageing Hollywood divas Gloria Swanson, Ruby Keeler, and Mary Pickford, among others. 

Today, many global galleries are home to Sherman’s work, including London’s National Portrait Gallery, which is home to a collection of Sherman’s lifetime work from the 1970s onwards, and the Tate Modern, London. 

Cindy Sherman on Social Media

Despite being settled in the industry for 40 years, Cindy Sherman has pivoted into using social media. She transformed herself into various characters, including killer clowns and biker chicks. Then she captured these interesting characters by photographing herself in selfies to share online. You can follow Cindy Sherman on Instagram or catch some updates about her and other contemporary artists on Imitate Modern Instagram


Does Cindy Sherman have a website? 

You can find the Cindy Sherman website tribute page at

Who is Sherman’s main Inspiration?

A selection of contemporary photographers influences Cindy’s work. For example, some of her work surrounding the theme of identity can be linked to Ryan Trecartin. 

Is Cindy Sherman connected with any other celebrities?

As mentioned, Sherman’s work on the United Film Stills and her performative character art series gained her international recognition. Through this work, she connected with other famous faces. 

Sherman also had another claim to fame when she was partnered with renowned actor and artist James Franco in which Frano restaged 29 images from Cindy’s Untitled Film Stills. However, some critics called the work embarrassingly clueless; the exhibition generally rendered negative reviews. 

Is Cindy Sherman a Feminist Artist?

Some scholars have insinuated Cindy Sherman’s work falls into the category of feminist art. For example, Douglas Crimp says her work is a mix of photography and performance art that shows ‘femininity to be an effect of representation. 

However, Sherman herself has said on record that she doesn’t consider her work to be in the feminist genre but that her artwork ‘is what it is, and hopefully, it can be seen as feminist-advised work’. 

What are Sherman’s Most Famous Photographs? 

Sherman is best known for her work ‘United Film Stills’ and her performative self-portrait style work, where she photographed herself as different characters and produced countless iconic images. 

How much is Sherman’s artwork worth?

A piece of Sherman’s work fetched a staggering $2.7 million in 2010, while another piece commended a price of $3.89 million just one year later in 2011, which became a record-breaking sale in the industry at the time. 


Cindy Sherman has had a rich career, and it’s easy to see how her work has influenced contemporary photography. As a world-recognised artist Sherman has certainly earnt the right to relax as her name will forever be in contemporary art history books. However, she is still working on her photography and enjoys posting thought-provoking selfies on her social media.

If you are interested in learning more about other female contemporary photographers, head to the Imitate Modern diary, where we discuss the careers of many women who are making their mark in art history books as innovators of this time. You may particularly like our posts on the top female photographers or emerging photographers to keep an eye on. 

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