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Untitled #108. 1984

After almost a decade of staging still lifes with dolls and props, in her 2000–2002 head-shots series Sherman returned to a more intimate scale and to using herself as a model. The format recalls ID pictures, head shots, or vanity portraits made in garden-variety portrait studios by professional photographers. First exhibited in Beverly Hills, the series explores the cycle of desire and failed ambition that permeates Hollywood. Sherman conceived a cast of would-be or has-been female actors posing for head shots in order to get acting jobs; later, for an exhibition in New York, she added East Coast types. Whichever part of the country they’re from, we’ve seen these women before—on reality television, in soap operas, or at a PTA meeting. With these pictures, Sherman underscores the transformative qualities of makeup, hair, expression, and pose, and the power of stereotypes as transmitters of cultural clichés. She projects well-drawn personas: the enormous pouting lips of the woman in Untitled #360 suggest a yearning for youth, while the glittery makeup and purple iridescent dress worn by the character in Untitled #400 indicate an aspiration to reach a certain social status. In her role as both sitter and photographer, Sherman has disrupted the usual power dynamic between model and photographer and created new avenues through which to explore the very apparatus of portrait photography itself.

Untitled #405. 2000

After almost a decade of staging still lifes with dolls and props, in her 2000–2002 head-shots series Sherman returned to a more intimate scale and to using herself as a model. The format recalls ID pictures, head shots, or vanity portraits made in garden-variety portrait studios by professional photographers. First exhibited in Beverly Hills, the series explores the cycle of desire and failed ambition that permeates Hollywood. Sherman conceived a cast of would-be or has-been female actors posing for head shots in order to get acting jobs; later, for an exhibition in New York, she added East Coast types. Whichever part of the country they’re from, we’ve seen these women before—on reality television, in soap operas, or at a PTA meeting. With these pictures, Sherman underscores the transformative qualities of makeup, hair, expression, and pose, and the power of stereotypes as transmitters of cultural clichés. She projects well-drawn personas: the enormous pouting lips of the woman in Untitled #360 suggest a yearning for youth, while the glittery makeup and purple iridescent dress worn by the character in Untitled #400 indicate an aspiration to reach a certain social status. In her role as both sitter and photographer, Sherman has disrupted the usual power dynamic between model and photographer and created new avenues through which to explore the very apparatus of portrait photography itself.

Untitled #359. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 30 x 20" (76.2 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #360. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 30 x 20" (76.2 x 50.8 cm). Stefan T. Edlis Collection. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #355. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #399. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 39 x 26" (99.1 x 66 cm). Collection of Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein. Fractional and promised gift to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #353. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #397. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Rubell Family Collection, Miami. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #398. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 34 1/2 x 24" (87 x 61 cm). Ellen and Richard Levine. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #402. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Ann and Mel Schaffer Family Collection. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #351. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 30 x 20" (76.2 x 50.8 cm). Sandra and Stephen Abramson. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

Marilyn Minter (Artist)
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Untitled #400. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2000. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #396. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Collection Norman and Norah Stone, San Francisco. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #405. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 33 x 22" (83.8 x 55.9 cm). Collection of Mandy and Cliff Einstein. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #354. 2000

Chromogenic color print, 36 x 24" (91.4 x 61 cm). Collection of Ninah and Michael Lynne. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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