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Three decades of Cindy Sherman

From an eerie clown to a society doyenne, photographer Cindy Sherman has masqueraded as a series of characters in front of her own camera.

Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” series, comprising 70 black-and-white photographs made between 1977 and 1980, are made to resemble publicity pictures taken on movie sets. The images represent clichés from films of the 1950s and 60s: career girl, bombshell, housewife and so on.

For the first time in 15 years, work that spans Cindy Sherman's entire career, from the mid-70s to the present, will be on display in one place: New York's Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit opens Feb. 26. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Fashion has been a constant source of inspiration for Sherman’s work. In 1983, she parodied typical fashion photography by featuring unfashionable characters that that were goofy, hysterical, angry or slightly mad. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
In the 1980s and 90s, macabre and grotesque narratives were prevalent in Sherman’s work. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Part of Sherman’s centerfolds series, this photograph sold for a whopping $3,890,500 in May 2011 at Christie's in New York, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold. It held that record until November 2011. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
In Sherman’s history portraits (1988-90), she borrows from a number of art-historical periods—Renaissance, baroque, rococo and Neoclassical. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Sherman’s history portraits make allusions to paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio, Fragonard and Ingres. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
In Sherman’s 1992 sex pictures, she arranged dolls bought from medical-supply catalogues to simulate sex acts and mimic scenes from pornography. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
In her head-shots series, Sherman conceived a cast of would-be or has-been actors posing for head shots in order to get acting jobs. The series was first exhibited in Beverly Hills. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
The characters in Sherman’s 2003-2004 clown series all possess a comical surface façade, but they have a range of emotional states. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
The figures in Sherman’s society portraits struggle with impossible standards of beauty that prevail in a youth- and status-obsessed culture. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
One of the inspirations for Sherman’s 2008 society portraits, according to MOMA Associate Curator Eva Respini, was a former soap opera actress who created a website for aging women who wanted to look fabulous. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
In Sherman’s latest work, she alters her appearance using digital techniques, particularly PhotoShop, instead of make-up and prosthetics. Cindy Sherman / Courtesy Museum of Modern Art