From July 14 to October 8, 2012, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will host the sole West Coast presentation of Cindy Sherman, a traveling retrospective of one of the most significant contemporary artists and arguably the most influential one working exclusively with photography. Known for photographing herself in a range of guises and personas that are by turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting, Sherman has built an international reputation for an extraordinary body of work. Most notably, in 2011, a print of Untitled #96, which depicts Sherman as a lovelorn woman clutching a personal ad while lying on a kitchen floor, fetched $3.89 million dollars at Christie’s, making it the most expensive photograph at that time.
Masquerading as myriad characters in front of her camera, Sherman has served as her own model for more than 30 years, constructing invented personas and tableaus. To create her photographs, she works unassisted in her studio, and assumes multiple roles as photographer, model, art director, makeup artist, hairdresser, and stylist. Through her skillful guises, she has created an astonishing and continually intriguing variety of culturally resonant characters, from sexy starlet to clown to aging socialite. She explores society’s visual expectations of women through her photographs.
Cindy Sherman is also an iconic cross collaborator in the world of fashion. She created the Post Card Series for Comme des Garçons for the brand’s autumn/winter 1994–95 collections in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo. In 2006, she created a series of fashion advertisements for designer Marc Jacobs. For Balenciaga, Sherman created the six-image series Cindy Sherman: Untitled (Balenciaga) in 2008; they were first shown to the public in 2010 at Fashion Night Out in New York City.
A selection of ambitious and celebrated works will be highlighted, including a complete set of the seminal Untitled Film Stills (1977–80)—70 black-and-white photographs that feature the artist in stereotypical female roles inspired by 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, and European art-house films—and all twelve of her centerfolds (1981), in addition to selections from her significant series of works: fairy tale/mythology (1985); history portraits (1988–90); sex pictures (1992); headshots (2000); clowns (2002–04); fashion (1983–84, 1993–94, 2007–08); and society portraits (2008).