The term cinematic relates to the cinema and is used to describe artworks which have qualities characteristic of film

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  • Cindy Sherman, 'Untitled Film Still #48' 1979, reprinted 1998
    Cindy Sherman
    Untitled Film Still #48 1979, reprinted 1998
    Photograph on paper
    image: 710 x 955 mm
    support, secondary: 920 x 1140 mm
    Presented by Janet Wolfson de Botton 1996© Cindy Sherman
  • Cindy Sherman, 'Untitled Film Still #17' 1978, reprinted 1998
    Cindy Sherman
    Untitled Film Still #17 1978, reprinted 1998
    Photograph on paper
    image: 745 x 950 mm
    frame: 970 x 1157 x 32 mm
    Presented by Janet Wolfson de Botton 1996© Cindy Sherman
  • Claude Cahun, 'Untitled' 1936
    Claude Cahun
    Untitled 1936
    Black and white photograph on paper
    177 x 127 mm
    Purchased 2007© The estate of Claude Cahun

The word cinematic is sometimes used to describe a form of tableau photography where the artist has used dramatic lighting and scene setting in an approach similar to that seen in a movie in order to heighten the tension and atmosphere. 

It is a technique used by artists to blur fact and fiction. For example Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills, a series of black and white photographs made between 1977 and 1980, depict the artist playing fictitious characters. Using vintage clothing, make-up and wigs, she created a range of female personae in scenarios that resembled moments in a film. 

Since the advent of digital film-making, and the decline of analogue film, the word ‘cinematic’ can also be used to describe a piece of digital film that has the stylistic look and ambition of analogue film.