Cindy Sherman - Photographs New York Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I suppose unconsciously, or semiconsciously at best, I was wrestling with some sort of turmoil of my own about understanding of women. These characters weren't dummies; they weren't just airhead actresses. They were women struggling with something, but I didn't know what. The clothes make them look a certain way, but then you look at their expression, however slight I may be, and wonder if maybe "they" are not what the clothes are communicating... I definitely felt that the characters were questioning something." —Cindy Sherman

    Widely considered as some of the most influential works in the post-war era, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills marked a watershed moment in the artist’s conceptual and photographic practices. Forming a suite of seventy black and white photographs, the series show the artist in the role of “generic” female characters of 1950s and 1960s Hollywood film noir and B movies. Cindy Sherman’s characters in these photographs, are inspired by the movies she grew up watching, and her own misgivings towards sexuality and the characterization of women in media and the public domain: 'to pick a character like that was about my own ambivalence about sexuality - growing up with the women role models that I had, and a lot of them in films, that were like that character, and yet you were supposed to be a good girl'


    In Untitled Film Still #34, Sherman clearly plays the role of a temptress. Her provocative pose is accentuated by the disheveled bed linen, the haphazardly donned men’s shirt she is wearing, and the worn-out romance novel at her side. The contextual ambivalence is intentional and allows room for the audience to make their own interpretations and reflections. The success of the series, and in this work in particular, is in its multilayering of charm, wit and seduction while boldly challenging depictions of women in popular media and its impact on women’s own view of themselves and their self-expression.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Schellmann & Klüser, Munich
      STAMPA, Basel

    • Literature

      The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, p. 98
      Flammarion, Cindy Sherman, n.p.
      Pantheon Books, Cindy Sherman, pl. 21
      Prestel, Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life, p. 39
      Rizzoli, Cindy Sherman, p. 99
      Schirmer Art Books, Cindy Sherman, pl. 8
      The MIT Press, Cindy Sherman, pl. 38
      The Museum of Contemporary Art, Lost Angeles, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, pl. 35
      The Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, pl. 20
      Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, pl. 21

    • 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 an Important Collector


Untitled Film Still #34

Gelatin silver print.
9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. (23.8 x 18.7 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered 3/10 in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 6 April 2022