Research/Enquiry- Cindy Sherman – ‘Film Stills’

Cindy Sherman is one of the world’s most respected and well known photographers and has exhibited her work internationally.  Following her studies in art education, Sherman made her name from an ongoing series of self portraits in which she characterised her settings that refer to characters from televised drama, film and soap operas.  In her series titled ‘Film Stills’ (1978-1980) which consists of 130 prints, Sherman portrays her character after celebrity icons including Marilyn Monroe.  The atmosphere in her work can sometime appear subdued and mysterious while others appeared more shocking and dramatic; Sherman also brings a sense of sexual authority through the way she poses.  For example, ‘Film Still 58’ (Fig 1) captures Sherman against the backdrop of a city building bringing an epic low angle viewpoint of her looking over her shoulder as her scarf falls loosely behind.  Sherman brings an experimental variety of perspective throughout her work as she also creates awkward positions in small spaces such as her images based no the everyday housewife in a kitchen scene.  The way in which Sherman works distinctively copies reality as a new representation of the female character.  Sherman captures the female individual in a both an empowering and vulnerable sense in which some images show Sherman in fragile and poignant states in the private space such as bedrooms and bathrooms while others portray her as independent within more formal and public environments.

I find Sherman’s work possesses a quality that laves the audience to ponder what is happening at the present moment of the scene in the image as her collective series appear as if they were taken directly from a film.  The viewer becomes a witness of the scene as Sherman also creates diverse camera angles that brings a sense of perspective that is almost discerning.  I admire how Sherman brings cinema into play with her work as she allows the audience to make their own judgement of the individual through how she performs in a sense that reflect a film set production.  I find Sherman is very elaborate with her staging for the ‘Film Still’ series as well as other works for her images are not still but ‘moving’ as she brings to life the happenings of the headstrong female.  She also uses striking contrast of lighting that appears quite natural and low key. Also the body language used is rather expressive and dominating as she brings across a sense of self awareness where often her character is focusing on being content with herself or even how the individual sees herself.  As a renowned photographer, Sherman presents a strong influence of narrative and evocative settings to her work.  Sherman is a strong influence towards my own practice as she directs herself into a role that invites the audience to recognise concepts they may have come across elsewhere.  This brings to mind how I images could be produced that uses a practice opposite to constructing freeze frames for a photographic scene where the characters featured may continue to act during the shooting process.


Veronique Pittlolo-Oxford University Press New York (2015) Cindy Sherman-Tate [Online] Available from: (Accessed 20/12/2015)

Moma All rights Reserved (2015) Cindy Sherman [Online] Available from: (Accessed 20/12/2015)


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