Cindy Sherman - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Cindy Sherman’s Untitled (Under the WTC), is a variant of a negative from her landmark Film Stills that established the artist’s early reputation and made her a mainstay in the canon of post‐modernist art theory and practice. Her black-and-white photographs from this period, which predate her transition to color shortly after, 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. Sherman’s photographs simultaneously construct and critique the cinematic codes of femininity, highlighting the artifice that pervades our scopophilic culture beyond the silver screen.


    Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #59, 1980


    In Untitled (Under the WTC), Sherman employs cinematic compositional tools with finesse. The effortlessly dressed subject hurriedly walks beneath the looming portico of the World Trade Center, in Lower Manhattan. The architectural elements of the mise en scène parallel the verticality of her solitary form, as if to confine her to the focal point. Sherman explains, “Some of the women in the outdoor shots could be alone, or being watched 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).” Stilling the character in the midst of an action suggest the presence of a story; yet, without 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.

    • Provenance

      Metro Pictures, New York

    • Literature

      Sherman, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, p. 41, pl. 59 (variant)
      Moorhouse, Cindy Sherman, p. 78 (variant)

    • 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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Untitled (Under the WTC)

Gelatin silver print, printed 2001.
7 5/8 x 5 1/2 in. (19.4 x 14 cm)
Signed, titled, dated, and numbered 83/100 in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$18,000 - 22,000 

Sold for $20,320

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023