Cindy Sherman - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Serpentine Gallery, Cindy Sherman, 3 June - 25 August 2003, pp. 78 and 95 (illustrated, p. 78)
    Paris, Jeu de Paume; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Berlin, Martin Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, 16 May 2006 - 10 September 2007, pp. 162 - 163, 258 and 318 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 162 - 163, 258)
    Munich, Museum Villa Stuck, Street Life and Home Stories: Fotografien aus der Sammlung Goetz, 1 June - 11 September 2011 (another example exhibited)
    Silkeborg, Museum Jorn, Cindy Sherman, 23 September - 10 December 2017, pp. n.p. and 136 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    Francesco Bonami, ed., Cindy Sherman, Milan, 2007, pp. 72-73 and 107 (another example illustrated, pp. 72-73)
    Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Sammlung Goetz, Munich, 2015, pp. 2-3 and 157 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Artist Focus: Cindy Sherman
    'We’re all products of what we want to project to the world. Even people who don’t spend any time, or think they don’t, on preparing themselves for the world out there – I think that ultimately, they have for their whole lives groomed themselves to be a certain way, to present a face to the world.' Cindy Sherman

    Provocative and captivating, Cindy Sherman’s strikingly physical photographs are demandingly dramatic and powerful. Exploring the multiple depictions of the female body and notion of identity, Sherman transforms herself into a horde of various characters. The present works, which were created between 1977 to 1993, reflect the essence of the photographer’s practice which has become synonymous with dramatized impersonations and satirical portraiture, challenging the various depicted motifs. Typically using her own body in varying guises, the present examples use powerful chiaroscuro to add drama, intensity and humour. Through the deliberate poses, Sherman depicts herself in these works as an object of the viewer’s gaze. The artist's permanent legacy within the history of art is recognised at the major retrospective of the artist’s works shown at the National Gallery of Art, London, during the summer of 2019.

    Created in the year that Sherman started her famously renowned suite of sixty-nine Untitled Film Stills, Film Still #62, 1977, executed in black and white, sees Sherman masquerading as a female character borrowed from the glamourised images of 1950's cinema and film noir, tapping into the American fascination with peeping behind-the-scenes of famed characters only captured on the big screen.

    Exemplifying the horror and absurdity that Sherman explored in her Fairy Tale series, Untitled #155, 1985, is strange and surreal, liberated from the limitations of reality, Sherman appears to be constructed, non-human, with plastic, doll-like skin, so extreme is the makeup. 'In horror stories or in fairy tales, the fascination with the morbid is … a way to prepare for the unthinkable… the real horrors of the world are unmatchable, and they’re too profound. It’s much easier to absorb – to be entertained by it, but also to let it affect you psychologically – if it’s done in a fake, humorous, artificial way' (Cindy Sherman, quoted in Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, exh. cat., The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1998, p. 8).

    From 1989-90 Sherman created her own renderings of Historical Portraits - whilst not generally replicating any specific painting, Sherman recreates types from the genre. This is portrayed in Untitled #208, 1990, through the thinking pose of Sherman's 'philosopher' at her desk on which sits a small replica of a human skull and empty candle stand, echoing historic vanitas and memento mori still lifes. Through these portraits Sherman often pokes fun at the historical tradition of idealising and exaggerating certain aspects of the female anatomy. In Untitled #275 , 1993, Sherman langours on a heavily draped couch in the pose of an idealised odalisque. Here, amusingly her enhanced pendulous breasts fall forward as she looks out, inviting the art historical debate on the female/ male gaze.

    Spanning across three of the artist’s systematic evolving set of series, the present works exemplify Sherman’s comments on the historical view of the female body with her characteristic sardonic wit. As Sherman stated 'I see humour in almost everything, in even the grotesque things, because I don’t want people to believe in them as if they were documentary that really does show true horror. I want them to be artificial, so you can laugh or giggle at them, as I do when I watch horror movies.' (Cindy Sherman, 2012.)

  • 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 an Important Private European Collection


Untitled #275

signed, numbered and dated 'Cindy Sherman 5/6 1993' on the backing board
colour coupler print
160 x 223.5 cm (62 7/8 x 87 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1993, this work is number 5 from an edition of 6.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Director, Specialist
Head of Day Sale
+44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 3 October 2019