Cindy Sherman - New Now London Thursday, December 12, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Exhibited

    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, 9 July - 4 October 1987
    Kunsthalle Basel; Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Cindy Sherman, 28 March - 22 September 1991, pp. 46-47 (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Malmö Konsthall; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work, 1975 - 1995, 25 May 1995 - 11 February 1996, no. 105, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)
    Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery; Bordeaux, CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, 2 November 1997 - 2 January 2000, no. 109, pp. 44-45, 142-143 and 199 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 45 and 143)

  • Literature

    Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea di Milano, 1990, pp. 62-63 (another example illustrated)
    Rosalind Krauss and Norman Bryson, Cindy Sherman 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 152-153 and 230 (another example illustrated, pp. 152-153)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Untitled #180, 1987, Cindy Sherman’s experimental approach to photography comes to the fore. Portraying an anthropomorphic creature glowing in luminescent yellows, pinks and blues, the lurid, dually-structured composition conveys an image more fantastical than real, investigating an overtly grotesque subject whilst preserving allusions to recognisable – though distortedly aggrandised – facial features. Pictured from a disturbingly close angle, these are additionally swathed in chemical colours reminiscent of blood or body fluids at the corner of the mouth, in the white of the eye and over locks of hair. This aesthetic of deterioration and waste is typical of Sherman’s Disaster series, which occupied her work from 1985 to 1989, in the aftermath of her widely celebrated Film Stills. The series not only signified a change in her work as she began to explore genres including horror films, fairy tales and the realm of the uncanny; it furthermore marked a departure from the artist’s use of her own likeness as the sole subject of her portraits. Throughout this period, Sherman utilised props alluding to the notion of decay, and veered from the cinematic to the theatrical, altogether conjuring themes of artificiality, the ominous, and the macabre.

    With Untitled #180, Sherman employs a wide variety of make-up techniques and prostheses to create an incongruous – and physically eerie – representation of the human body. The result is a chillingly ambiguous figure standing halfway between a realistic monster and a synthetic doll. With its large, globulous eyes, its wide nose and mouth – both seemingly swollen beyond comfort – and its stiff, leather-like skin, the anonymous character encapsulates ‘something visually offensive but seductive, beautiful, and textural as well, to suck you in and then repulse you’ (Cindy Sherman, quoted in Calvin Tomkins, ‘Her Secret Identities’, The New Yorker, 15 May 2000, online). Pairing a frightening subject with a delectable mix of light and colour, Untitled #180 is an exceptional example of Sherman’s Disaster series, which demonstrates the breadth of her talent as a photographer and conceptual artist.

  • 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 #180

colour c-print, in 2 parts
each 235 x 151 cm (92 1/2 x 59 1/2 in.)
overall 235 x 302 cm (92 1/2 x 118 7/8 in.)

Executed in 1987, this work is number 1 from an edition of 6.

£70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for £68,750

Contact Specialist
Simon Tovey
Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 12 December 2019