Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Meghan Sullivan on Cindy Sherman


A black and white image of a woman in a headscarf staring into the camera.

This is entry #11 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.

Philosopher: Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame)

Artwork: Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #17 (1978). Gelatin Silver Print 7 1/2″ x 9 7/16”

Words: I saw my first Cindy Sherman exhibit when I was 20 and on a study abroad trip in London. At the time I wondered, if Sherman makes her living staging these elaborate characters, what would a picture of The Real Cindy look like?  But then, what would a picture of The Real Meghan look like?  Sherman’s work is metaphysics, gender, inequality, deranged theater, and sappy melodrama.  You can’t stop staring at her. She’s the first contemporary artist that really disturbed my views about what it is to be a woman.  The film stills are particularly marvelous.

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