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Image of the dashing leading man

Cindy Sherman , b. January 19, 1954

the dashing leading man

7 1/2 in. x 5 in. (19.05 cm x 12.7 cm)

Medium and Support: Gelatin silver print
Credit Line: Purchased as the gift of Katherine D. and Stephen C. Sherrill (PA 1971, and P 2005, 2007, 2010), Sidney Knafel (PA 1948), Scott Mead (PA 1973), Michael Schmertzler (PA 1970), Drew Chin (PA 2000) and Emily D. Griset (PA 2000), and Amy Falls (PA 1982), and museum purchase
Accession Number: 2013.58.5


Throughout her career photographer Cindy Sherman has continuously made work that explores the construction of identity and challenges stereotypes of women. Although she photographs herself, her images are not self-portraits, but representations of personas she creates by transforming herself through clothing, makeup, wigs, prosthetics, and props. Appropriating imagery from popular culture, art history, film, and other visual sources, her staged “characters” have ranged from screen sirens to sinister clowns to aging socialites. Made while she was a student at Buffalo State College, Murder Mystery People forecasts the conceptual foundation upon which Sherman’s photographic oeuvre is built. In this series, “stock” characters from classic Hollywood mystery movies, such as the melodramatic starlet and the trench-coated detective, are meticulously staged—from clothing to pose and gesture to props. The artifice of these images is reinforced by the photographer’s cable release cord, visibly trailing off the picture’s edge, and an occasional prop discarded from a different character. In this early work Sherman is not interested in using masquerade to deceive the viewer, but rather engage them in the performance.

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