The Daily Pic

Cindy Sherman Student Work is The Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

Cindy Sherman found herself while still in college.

Cindy Sherman hit her stride as an artist amazingly early. Her trademark self-portrait photos – including this hand-painted series where she mimics orgasm – had already started to appear while she was in her junior year in art at Buffalo State college. A new catalogue, published by Vienna's Verbund collection, presents everything Sherman made between 1975 and 1977, when she moved to New York and began work on her "Untitled Film Stills". (A slide show in the Daily Beast presents a selection of works from the book.) One issue I'm still not clear on: Just how much of Sherman's work depends on the influence of Suzy Lake, the pioneering Canadian feminist who was working with self-portrayal before Sherman was. Lake had published very Shermanesque work by early 1974, well before Sherman discovered herself as her subject. On the other hand, the new catalogue explains that the two didn't meet until Lake showed up to give a talk in Buffalo in October 1975, after Sherman's first self-portraits. Sherman has always acknowledged the contact, so maybe the whole issue of precedence is a dead letter. After all, it was Sherman who took the idea, and pushed it deep into our culture.

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