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100 Artists: Cindy Sherman

100 Artists is a yearlong celebration of the 100 artists who have appeared to date in Art21′s award-winning film series Art in the Twenty-First Century. Throughout 2013, we are dedicating two to three days to each artist on our social media platforms.

Cindy Sherman. “Untitled (#224),” 1990. Color photograph, 48 x 38 in. Edition of 6. © Cindy Sherman. Courtesy Metro Pictures, New York.

In 2008, twenty of Cindy Sherman’s History Portraits (1989-1990) were exhibited at Skarstedt Gallery in New York City. The interview that Art21 released today was recorded as Sherman walked through the exhibition, discussing individual photographs and the overall series. Here’s an excerpt:

Art21: What were some of the challenges of portraying a man?

Sherman: I hadn’t done too many characters that were supposed to be men. I had tried in some of the black and white photographs, but they weren’t successful. In doing this work I realized it was not so hard visually—with makeup, wigs, and costumes— to make myself look like a man. What was easier in these pictures that was harder in earlier work was that I wasn’t trying to show any emotion. These characters are just sitting there kind of frozen in time. Whereas the new work is so much about a kind of emotion that comes out of the face, from behind the makeup I’ve put on.

Art21: Tell me more about your research.

Sherman: I usually buy a lot of books and rip pages out and stick them on the wall. I refer to them in more encyclopedic ways and it sort of all gets absorbed. Then, when I’m ready to shoot, I’ll see what I have available. I think with [Untitled (#224)] I had all these grapes and leaves and thought, “That’s such an easy thing to do, to copy Caravaggio’s Sick Bacchus.”

Go to to read the complete transcript.


Cindy Sherman was featured in the Season 5 episode “Transformation”; watch her segment here.

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