Cindy Sherman - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York
    Sold to Benefit the Whitney Museum of American Art's New Building Project, Sotheby’s, New York, May 15, 2013, lot 403
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Artists Space, Exchange Show: Hallwalls, Buffalo, November 6 - 27, 1976

  • Literature

    Gabriele Schor, Cindy Sherman: The Early Works 1975-1977, Ostfildern, no. 52, pp. 264-267 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A formative series in the artist’s oeuvre, Cindy Sherman’s Murder Mystery works date to 1976, the year that the artist graduated from Buffalo State College and first began to experiment with alternative creative practices including music and filmmaking. Each of the unique, black and white photographic collages in this series depicts Sherman disguised as characters in an elaborate murder mystery, which she devised in five pages of script, nine pages of character descriptions, and an exhibition plan. The narrative of the story revolves around a 1930s comeback actress who falls in love with her movie director and is then killed, after which trench-coated detectives attempt to solve the murder. Sherman took the photos of herself dressed up as these characters and printed them in varying scales, cutting out figures like paper dolls and pasting them directly to the wall in a storyboard. The present lot contains six of these unique, intimate works, each of which vary in subject and in scale.

    Sherman debuted the series in an exhibition hosted by Artists Space, where Helene Winer was the director, alongside her contemporaries associated with Hallwalls, an arts space founded by artists including her and Robert Longo. Perhaps a premonition of what would come, at the time of the exhibition Sherman referred to the works as “a mini-movie, hung up on the wall.” Serving as direct precursors to the artist’s seminal Film Stills, the foundational influence of this early series is unmistakable.

  • 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.

    View More Works

Property from a European Collection


Six Scenes from Murder Mystery

each signed and dated "Cindy Sherman 1976" on the reverse
gelatin silver print cut-outs mounted on paper board, in 6 parts
(i-ii) 16 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. (41.9 x 54.6 cm.)
(iii - vi) 21 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. (54.6 x 41.9 cm.)

Executed in 1976, each of these works is unique.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $225,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017