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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York

  • Literature

    Felix and Schwander, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work 1975-1995, pl. 53; Interview Magazine, 1983; Pantheon, Cindy Sherman, pl. 81; Rizzoli, Cindy Sherman 1975-1993, p. 114; Thames and Hudson, Cindy Sherman Retrospective, pl. 90

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1983, fashion designer and retailer Dianne Benson commissioned Cindy Sherman to create a series of advertisements for her store, Dianne B., that appeared in several issues of Interview magazine. Untitled #122 features a gender blending Jean-Paul Gaultier design from his Spring 1982 collection.
    At the time, Sherman was best known for her iconic body of work, Untitled Film Stills 1977-1980, a group of sixty-nine black and white photographs depicting the photographer in a range of roles that explored femininity in the post-war era. But by the early 1980s, Sherman began to take her work in a different direction. Still interested in representations of women in contemporary culture, her new work, the 1981 series Centerfolds, was characterized by large, color images that looked to men’s magazines, rather than film, for their visual vocabulary. In these nearly life-size photographs, Sherman is cast as the manifestation of masculine desire be it as the seductress or the innocent victim waiting to be rescued. After appropriating the imagery of these men’s magazines, it seems a natural progression for Sherman to then shift her focus towards the representation of women in women’s magazines via the premise of fashion photography. In this regard, it appears that Benson’s commission in 1983 was serendipitous.
     
    As indicated in her notes reproduced below, (fig. 1), Sherman’s goal for this project was to create a series of images that, while using the means of fashion photography, stand in total contrast to it. Playing against the stereotypes of idealized beauty, unattainable perfection and excessive self-confidence that had become and continue to be typical of fashion photography, these images lack glamour and cast Sherman as little more than a body on which to drape the designer clothing. If the job of the model is to sell the clothing and, by extension, an image of herself, Sherman fails miserably as such. As evident in Untitled #122, there is a disjuncture between the clothes and the model that makes the image unsettling and far from convincing as a fashion photograph. But, of course, this was Sherman’s exact intention. In one of her comments below, she writes “ugly girls playing dress-up w/ ‘Mom’s’ clothing” which is the impression one gets when looking at this work.The clothing appears matronly, not because of its design but rather because of Sherman’s slouched pose and awkward body language; her clenched fists and facial expression are reminiscent of a child being forced to wear something against her will. Sherman has here peeled back the glossy veneer of fashion photography to reveal the contradictions of an industry that simultaneously ‘celebrates beauty while making women prisoners of it.’ (Sherman, Art in America, June 1997).

  • 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 FROM THE COLLECTION OF DIANNE BENSON

70

Untitled #122

1983
Color coupler print.
35 1/4 x 21 3/8 in. (89.5 x 54.3 cm).
Signed, dated and numbered 11/18 in pencil on the verso.

Estimate
$80,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $116,500

Photographs

1 April 2009, 10am & 2pm
New York