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Still from an Untitled Film
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jtucker's picture

Contributor

If a picture takes part of your soul, there may be no hope left for Cindy Sherman.

Everyone at some point in their life is confronted with the ultimate question: Who am I? Some of us journal to explore the vast depths of our self conscious, others see therapists, and some just slather on some makeup slap a wing on and take selfies​. Well, at least that is Cindy Sherman’s approach, and boy is it paying off big time for her. For Sherman has become one of the most successful living female artists simply by taking pictures of herself. She's the ultimate selfie queen.

With this series, the question on deck is, what does it mean to be female? The Untitled Film Stills series explores female stereotypes and how society informs the roles we chose to take and how this in turn forms our identity. Essentially, it's a convo about how gender is arguably more of a social construct than a biological one.

This series of 69 photos aim to suggest Hollywood films of the 1950s. This one in particular draws on Hitchcock’s “career girl” making her own on the streets of the Big Apple. Little girl, big city, even bigger dreams.

Everyone loves a girl with an air of mystery around her. Perhaps this is why Sherman is one of the most adored female artists of our time. She is also the third most expensive living artist, and it is this series that snagged her that spot. In 2014, her Untitled Film Stills sold at auction for almost $7 million! I guess a photo is worth more than just a thousand words.

This is arguably the body of work that propelled Sherman to stardom. Understandably so, people love this series, including actor, painter, teacher, or whatever the heck he is calling himself these day, James Franco. He loves this series so much that he even made his own series of 29 photos directly copying Sherman’s work, but instead of the heroine female archetype found in her photos, Franco has placed himself. Yes, Franco dressed in women's clothes and pretended to be Sherman. Seem a little weird to you? Well the art world didn't like it either, in fact, they completely slammed him for this series. Many found this move by Franco to be horribly disrespectful and sexist. Turns out, people don’t like it when men try to reenact feminist art. As art critic Jerry Saltz said of people who copy Sherman’s work, “It's just you masturbating and may mean you're not meant to be an artist." Even Sherman herself explained, “I don’t know that I can say it’s art.” Ouch. Maybe he should leave his drag at the door and just stick to acting.