Wolf Prize Laureate in Art 2020
“for redefining the concept of art made with a camera”.
Cindy Sherman (born in 1954) is one of the most important and influential artists of the past decades. Her selection by the jury panel, which comprises senior curators from leading international museums, has been unanimous. Sherman’s works have been displayed over the years in dozens of solo and group exhibitions in the world’s prime museums. They can be found in museums and private collections. Sherman was recognized with numerous awards and prizes celebrating her outstanding achievements as a distinct, original and meaningful creator. Sherman’s performative actions are documented by her camera. She transforms in front of the camera while providing a critical reflection of the values of the changing contemporary culture. Sherman’s works emphasize the gender and age discourse, reviews the history of art and popular culture, and deliberates ethics in an age of digital manipulation.
For five decades, Cindy Sherman has redefined the concept of art made with a camera with trailblazing originality. From her earliest work as a student in the mid-1970s, to her digital experiments today, Sherman has continually explored the construction of identity, probing its relation to mass media, popular culture, and visual codes.
The artist’s acclaimed “Untitled Film Stills” series, 1977-80, transformed portraiture. Began when she was just 23, the series comprises 70 black-and-white photographs of Sherman in various female guises: the new-to-the-city ingénue, the vulnerable wife, the flirtatious librarian. Compiled from 1950s and ’60s B movies, and media absorbed by the artist, the characters are immediately recognizable, yet without distinction. “Untitled Film Stills” suggests the limited, media-framed identities available for women, and has remained a touchstone of 20th century photography.
At the core of her practice, Sherman holds a mirror to society and the culture around her. In her work since “Untitled Film” Stills, Sherman has staged herself as withering socialites, uneasy centerfolds, and grotesque clowns – alluding at the obedience and capitulation to the ongoing performance of the “self” in the social role-play. She addressed the representations of sexuality, seduction, objectification, and sexual violence.
Her recent work challenges the concept of personal authenticity. She takes the photographic manipulation of the portrait into the virtual-digital world, one of the social networks, or aesthetic medicine consumption and the structured distortion beget by software image processing. In her later works, Sherman’s greatness becomes even more apparent as she continues to innovate and challenge the spectators. No artist has achieved the psychological shape-shifting of Sherman, as she time and time again expands the potential of the photographic image, as well as art’s role in serving as a mirror and a sophisticated, challenging critical tool of its time.