Cindy Sherman

Stalwart of the Pictures Generation

‘While I agree that there have been great strides in making things better, we still have a ways to go before there’s real parity,’ wrote Sherman as part of an online debate on sexism in the artworld earlier this year. ‘I am well aware that my prices aren’t anywhere near those of my male counterparts, and while it annoys the hell out of me, I also think, How can I complain when I’m still doing so well?’ Well, quite. By any yardstick, Sherman is pretty close to the top of the tree: number five this year on the major-exhibition-derived Kunstkompass rankings; number ten on the list of most expensive living American artists; number three on the list of most expensive living female artists. 

Auction prices are, of course, a dismal barometer of merit – so how about popular status? Sherman’s is such that one fan issued a free set of emojis, allowing Cindyphiles to communicate in her image. As for legacy, the Pictures Generation is now looked to as the spiritual forebear of the post-Internet generation as it grapples with a sea of rapidly proliferating, authorless images, the lack of disconnect between advertising and selfexpression, and the increasing commodification of self-image. Sherman has become an informal patron saint to every artist attempting to undermine the selfie or turn Instagram to her own purposes. If anyone can smash that glass ceiling, she’ll be the one to do it.