Cindy Sherman - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York

  • Exhibited

    Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Cindy Sherman, 1990 (another example exhibited); Kunsthalle Basel, 28 March – 20 May, 1991; Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, 21 June – 24 July, 1991 and London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2 August – 22 September, 1991 (another example exhibited), Cindy Sherman; Milwaukee Art Museum, January – March, 1991; Miami, Centre for the Fine Arts, May – July, 1991 and Minneapolis, Walker Art Centre, July – October, 1991, Cindy Sherman (another example exhibited); D.C., Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 7 October, 1999 – 17 January, 2000 and Munich, Haus der Kunst, 11 February – 30 April, 2000 (another example exhibited), Regarding Beauty.  A View of the Late Twentieth Century; London Serpentine Gallery, 3 June – 25 August, 2003 (another example exhibited) and Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 6 December, 2003 – 7 March, 2004 (another example exhibited), Cindy Sherman; Paris, Jeu de Paume, 16 May – 3 September, 2006; Kunsthaus Bregenz, 25 November, 2006 – 14 January, 2007; Humlebeak, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 9 February – 13 May, 2007 Berlin, Martin-Gropius Bau, 15 June – 10 September, 2007 (another example exhibited), Cindy Sherman

  • Literature

    A. Danto, Cindy Sherman: History Portraits, New York, 1990 (another example illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Cindy Sherman, Basel, 1991, p. 57 (another example illustrated); R. Krauss and N. Bryson, Cindy Sherman – 1975-1993, New York, 1993, p. 169 (another example illustrated); C. Schneider, Cindy Sherman – History Portraits : die Wiedergeburt des Gemäldes nach dem Ende der Malerei, Munich, 1995, pl. 6 (another example illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and Haus der Kunst Munich, Regarding Beauty.  A View of the Late Twentieth Century, Washington, 2000, pl. 67, p. 47 (another example illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Serpentine Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, London, 2003, p. 74 (another example illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Cindy Sherman, Paris, 2006, pp. n.p & p. 257 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In the History Portraits, created in 1989-90 on the theme of Old Master paintings, Sherman unleashes the full blast of her iconoclastic verve.  False noses, false breasts, cheap costume jewelry, everyday fabrics, and thickly plastered makeup are assembled under dazzling, bright light:  the joke shop takes its revenge on the museum…the references are precise in some cases, and more fragmented in others…The overall impression is of an unsavory cultural minestrone, floating with bits of Fouquet, Raphael, Rubens, Fragonard, and Ingres…Sherman highlights the creation of a world where formal invention, fantasy and satire reign supreme.” (J.P. Criqui, ‘The Lady Vanishes’ in Cindy Sherman, Paris, 2006, pp. 279 & 281)
    Having begun the History Portraits in 1988, Sherman found the atmosphere of Renaissance Rome a catalyst and cultural setting for her body of work, which aimed at  depicting classic images.  Belonging to one of her most celebrated photographs from the acclaimed series the present lot, Untitled # 209, is a seminal image, in which Sherman captivates in a single iconic self-image the principle tenets that highlight the artist’s entire oeuvre. Through the incorporation of costumes, poses, interiors and settings of classical portraiture that were so predominant during the period of High Art, this series looks to mine the canon of art history, culling images of historical figures.
    Executed in Rome in 1989, the present lot Untitled # 209 is a work that confronts and comments on the possibilities of presentation and re-presentation within art.  One of her most accomplished compositions; it enshrines in a stunning and powerful image Sherman’s ability to alchemise the subject from its classical genre of History Painting to her own reconfigured genre of photography - a genre-type she coins as ‘History Portrait’.  It is through Sherman’s unique understanding of the nature of photography and its ability to capture the ideas of re-presentation that makes her a protagonist in her field and a vital contributor to the discourse on contemporary photography.
    “When I was doing those history pictures I was living in Rome but never went to the churches and museums there. I worked out of books, with reproductions. It's an aspect of photography I appreciate conceptually: the idea that images can be reproduced and seen anytime, anywhere, by anyone.” (Cindy Sherman)
    It is common knowledge that Portraits executed during the time of Renaissance Italy were created as clear statements, delineating the roles of gender and class through outward appearance and cultural hierarchies.  By re-configuring these pre-existing portraits, through the lens of the camera and using her altered own image for each portrait, Sherman clearly blurs any boundaries between class, status and hierarchy, commenting on the possibilities of equality, contesting the very notion of originality and authenticity in art, while simultaneously raising complex questions about the representation of the self, as a female artist among male dominated world.
    It is a stated fact that until the 20th century, women were almost exclusively the subjects rather than the practitioners of Fine Art.  In her series of ‘History Portraits’, Sherman changes the nuance of her title, emphasisng that each work is indeed a portrait – a self image, re-enacted by her. Each work depicts a scene in which she takes on the countenance and dress, which translates her recognisable or not so recognisable source-image through her own aesthetic. By appropriating the personas of these sitters, Sherman becomes both subject matter and artist encouraging in the modern viewer a critical re-appraisal of the role and significance of women in art history. It is perhaps through this striking portrayal of this female protagonist, Sherman emphasizes and highlights the strength of female representation in art, as well as ability of the female as art maker.
    “Cindy Sherman’s art is certainly postmodern.  Her works are photographs; she is not a photographer but an artist who uses photography.  Each image is built around a photographic depiction of a woman.  And each of the women is Sherman herself, simultaneously artist and model, transformed, chameleon-like, into a glossary of pose, gesture and facial expression.” (L. Mulvey, ‘A Phantasmagoria of The Female Body’ in Cindy Sherman, Paris, 2006, p. 284)
    Posing with a range of props, costumes and in some cases prostheses, which are the fundaments of her painterly photograph, Sherman entices her viewers into the most striking aspect of the series – their very nature as portraits both in the classic and historical sense of the term. Although her references are by no means all explicit, but every image in the series evokes the art of painting – Her make-up becomes her paint and her face is the canvas, through which Untitled # 209’s painterly quality is captured through the lens of a photograph and through the Sherman’s unique ability to appropriate by casting herself in the foreground of the image.

  • 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 # 209

Colour coupler print in artist's frame.
147.4 x 106 cm. (58 x 42 in).
Signed and dated ‘Cindy Sherman 1989' on the reverse. This work is from an edition of six.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £505,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm