Cindy Sherman - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery; Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, November 2, 1997 - January 2, 2000, pl. 65, pp. 92-93, 197 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    New York, Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, June 26 - September 2, 1997, pp. 28-29 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Paris, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume; Austria, Kunsthaus Bregenz; Copenhagen, Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kuns; Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 16, 2006 - September 10, 2007, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    New York, Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, February 26, 2012 - June 9, 2013, pl. 15, pp. 95, 242 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #64, 1980, belongs to the landmark series of Untitled Film Stills that established the artist’s early reputation and made her a mainstay in the canon of post‐modernist art theory and practice. Created between 1977 and 1980, the series consists of seventy black‐and‐white photographs that mimic the format of stills used to promote films. In each photograph, the artist – assuming the role of director, set designer, make‐up artist, costume designer, and actress – poses in the guises of generic female film characters from 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, film noir, and B movies. In dialogue with Laura Mulvey’s seminal 1975 essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Sherman considers the traditional exhibitionist role of the passive female object, styled according to the fantasy of the active male gaze. Sherman’s photographs simultaneously construct and critique the cinematic codes of femininity, highlighting the artifice that pervades our scopophilic culture beyond the silver screen.

    Of the Untitled Film Stills, Laura Mulvey explains, “The accoutrements of the feminine struggle to conform to a façade of desirability haunt Sherman’s iconography. Makeup, high heels, black-combed hair, respectable but eroticized clothes are all carefully ‘put on’ and ‘done.’ Sherman, the model, dresses up into character while Sherman, the artist, reveals her character’s masquerade. The juxtaposition begins to refer to a ‘surfaceness,’ so that nostalgia begins to dissolve into unease. Sherman accentuated the uneasiness by inscribing vulnerability into both the mise en scène of the photographs and the women’s poses and expressions.” (Laura Mulvey, “Cosmetics and Abjection: Cindy Sherman 1977-87,” in Johanna Burton, OCTOBER Files 6, Cindy Sherman, Cambridge, 2006, p. 68)

    In Untitled Film Still #64, Sherman employs cinematic compositional tools with consummate finesse. The elegantly dressed subject stands at the center of the composition – on display and unprotected. The architectural elements of the mise en scène parallel the verticality of her solitary form, looming over her as if to confine her to the focal point. The contrast between the light pouring through the arches and the deep shadows cast by the columns heightens the drama of the composition. The wide angle of the camera’s gaze implicates the viewer as a privileged voyeur, glimpsing the unaware protagonist at an unguarded moment. Sherman explains, “Some of the women in the outdoor shots could be alone, or being watch or followed—the shots I would choose were always the ones in-between the action, these women are on their way to wherever the action is (or to their doom)…or have just come from a confrontation (or tryst).” (Cindy Sherman, “The Making of Untitled,” The Complete Untitled Film Stills, NY, 2004, p. 9) The format of the tableau, as a film still, and the pose of the subject, caught mid-gesture, suggest the presence of a story, yet, the isolation of this moment within Sherman’s one-woman-show denies the spectator the satisfaction of a narrative arc. The viewer is left to contemplate the nature of their gaze and the construction of the object they behold. Held at a distance and masked in anonymity, the figure exists as a fetishized prototype of femininity – her purpose contingent on the desires of her audience.

    Created at the beginning of Sherman’s illustrious career, the Untitled Film Stills became the foundation of Sherman’s practice – their protagonists, the first of endless identities. Sherman’s process is one of constant metamorphosis – each character providing a new perspective on challenging questions of feminist aesthetics, while underscoring the artifice and performance of everyday life.

  • Artist Biography

    Cindy Sherman

    American • 1954

    Seminal to the Pictures Generation as well as contemporary photography and performance art, Cindy Sherman is a powerhouse art practitioner.  Wily and beguiling, Sherman's signature mode of art making involves transforming herself into a litany of characters, historical and fictional, that cross the lines of gender and culture. She startled contemporary art when, in 1977, she published a series of untitled film stills.

    Through mise-en-scène​ and movie-like make-up and costume, Sherman treats each photograph as a portrait, though never one of herself. She embodies her characters even if only for the image itself. Presenting subversion through mimicry, against tableaus of mass media and image-based messages of pop culture, Sherman takes on both art history and the art world.

    Though a shape-shifter, Sherman has become an art world celebrity in her own right. The subject of solo retrospectives across the world, including a blockbuster showing at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a frequent exhibitor at the Venice Biennale among other biennials, Sherman holds an inextricable place in contemporary art history.

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Property of Private European Collector


Untitled Film Still #64

signed, numbered and dated "Cindy Sherman 1/3 1980" on the reverse
gelatin silver print
30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm.)
Executed in 1980, this work is number 1 from an edition of 3.

$220,000 - 280,000 

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018