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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York

Cindy Sherman
B.1954
UNTITLED #93
signed, dated 1981 and numbered 4/10 on the reverse
chromogenic print
24 1/4 x 48 1/2 in. 61.7 x 123.3 cm.
Executed in 1981, this work is number four from an edition of ten.
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état

Provenance

Metro Pictures, New York
Sherry Fabrikant, Great Neck, New York 
Sotheby's, New York, May 5, 1994, Lot 319 (consigned by the above)
Private Collection, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above)
Christie's, New York, November 12, 1998, Lot 9 
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exposition

New York, Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, November 1981 (another example)
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, Recent Color, September - November 1982, cat. no. 8, p. 20, listed (the present example)
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Ghent, Gewad; Bristol, Watershed Gallery; Southampton, University of Southampton, John Hansard Gallery; Erlangen, Palais Stutterheim; West Berlin, Haus am Waldsee; Geneva, Centre d'Art Contemporain; Copenhagen, Sonja Henie-Niels Onstadt Foundation; Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum für Moderne Kunst, Cindy Sherman, December 1982 - April 1984, p. 52, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Barcelona, Fundació Caixa de Pensions, Art and Its Double: A New York Perspective, November 1986 - January 1987, cat. no. 80, p. 111, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, July - October 1987, pl. 52, n. p., illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Malmö, Malmö Konsthall; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, Cindy Sherman: Photoarbeiten 1975-1995, May 1995 - February 1996, pl. 42, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Southampton, Parrish Art Museum, All the More Real: Portrayals of Intimacy and Empathy , August - October 2007, pp. 120-121, illustrated in color (the present example)
New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Self-Portraits, July - September 2009 (the present example)
Miami, The Sender Collection, Home Alone, November - December 2011 (the present example)

Bibliographie

Peter Schjeldahl, Cindy Sherman, New York, 1984, pl. 52, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Kay Larson, "Who's That Girl," New York Magazine, August 3, 1987, p. 52, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Robert Woodward, "It's Art, But is it Photography?" New York Times Magazine, October 9, 1988, p. 31, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Susan Weiley, "150 Years of Photography," Artnews, vol. no. 88, no. 4, April 1989, p. 150, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Culture and Commentary: An Eighties Perspective, 1990, p. 111, illustrated (another example)
Exh. Cat., Basel, Kunsthalle Basel (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 1991, p. 37, illustrated in color (another example)
Rosalind Krauss and Norman Bryson, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 84-85, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Shiga, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 1996, cat. no. 38, pp. 92-93, illustrated in color (another example)
Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman Retrospective, 1997, cat. no. 76, p. 105, illustrated in color (another example)
Catherine Morris, The Essential Cindy Sherman, New York, 1999, p. 60, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., New York, Skarstedt Fine Art, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds 1981, 2003, pp. 24-25, illustrated in color (another example)
Exh. Cat., Paris, Jeu de Paume (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 2006, pp. 94-95 and 249, illustrated in color (another example)
Exh. Cat., Greenwich, The Bruce Museum, Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum, 2011, pp. 60-61, illustrated in color (another example)
Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 2012, pl. 92, p. 139, illustrated in color (another example)
Exh. Cat., Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet (and travelling), Cindy Sherman - Untitled Horrors, 2013, p. 64, illustrated in color (another example)
Eleanor Heartney, "Cindy Sherman: The Polemics of Play," After the Revolution: Women Who Transformed Art, 2nd ed., New York, Munich and London, 2013, p. 186

Description

Untitled #93 is one of twelve photographs from Cindy Sherman’s historically monumental 1981 series titled Centerfolds, a staggeringly compelling and audacious artistic triumph whose impact on both the trajectory of modern photography and the advent of postmodernist thought cannot be overstated. Related to the classic centerfold pin-up girl of a pornographic magazine, Sherman’s contemporary Olympia subverts the voyeuristic genre with a figure who is gripped by anxiety, ambiguous terror and alarming confinement. Initially commissioned for the pages of Artforum by then editor Ingrid Sischy, Sherman produced the Centerfolds in direct response to the magazine’s square format that provides a perfect horizontal double-square rectangle centerfold. Employing the centerfold as both a formal and conceptual framework, Sherman’s single figures fill the entire pictorial field, their bodies markedly confined by the enforced parameters of the image. The format dramatically constricts and restrains the character that Sherman embodies, reclining on the bed. Conveying a viscerally paralyzing sensation, the viewer shares in the claustrophobia imposed by the horizontal boundaries of the centerfold. The troubled woman, glistening with sweat and straining to cover herself in her black sheets, is trapped by the camera’s lens, lending the photographic medium a palpable agency central to Sherman’s postmodern interrogation of image-making.

Fearing backlash for the images’ provocative implied sexuality, Artforum ultimately declined to publish Sherman’s arresting work, particularly in light of the controversy ignited by Lynda Benglis’ infamous 1974 advertisement of the nude artist suggestively posed gripping a dildo. Nevertheless, the photographs were exhibited at Metro Pictures in New York to wide praise in the fall of 1981. Writing for theVillage Voice at the time, Roberta Smith commented, “This new work, her third series and second in color, may be her best work yet… The psychological weight of the work is so direct that at times it seems to free the viewer to see very clearly the formal manipulations which are at its source. Sherman makes you understand the components of photography with a particular bluntness which is one of her trademarks. The roles of color, light, cropping, space, eye contact (or lack of it) is continually stated and restated and we read them just as we do details of clothing, hairdo, posture and flooring. Despite all this the effect is not simply didactic; everything is both laid out and convincingly, ingenuously synthesized.” (Roberta Smith, “Review: Cindy Sherman,” Village Voice, New York, November, 1981) Toying with the spectator’s imposing gaze, which seeks pleasure in the centerfold image through objectifying its female subject, Sherman instead offers a highly staged and posed photograph of extreme vulnerability. As is exemplary of Sherman’s oeuvre, she exposes the camera’s ability to manipulate images, and unravels the viewer’s passive acceptance of these constructions as truths.

The horizontal orientation creates a dramatic pictorial space, in which we as the viewer peer down onto Sherman’s ingénue, defenseless in her supine passivity. The saturated palette of colors and theatrical lighting intensifies the emotional impact of the picture, marking a significant artistic development for Sherman, as this series was one of her first forays into color photography following the black and white Untitled Film Stills of 1977. Upon the Centerfolds' public exhibition, the present work provoked the most impassioned critical examination, a debate that catalyzed Sherman’s rise to eminence. Untitled #93 is perhaps the most explicitly suggestive of the series—Sherman acquires the guise of a pulp-fiction nymph, pulling the black sheets to her chest and staring off vacantly beyond the space of the centerfold. The Museum of Modern Art’s Eva Respini, curator of the recent travelling Cindy Sherman retrospective, explains in the catalogue for the exhibition, “Untitled  #93 was a particular lightning rod for debate, as some interpreted the puffy faced girl clutching at her bedsheets as a victim of sexual assault… Sherman imagined another scenario entirely: ‘To me, the whole inspiration for the picture was somebody who‘d been up all night drinking and partying and had just gone to sleep five minutes before the sun rose and woke her up. So it bothered me at first when people criticized the picture, seeing the side that I hadn’t intended… I was definitely trying to provoke in those pictures. But it was more about provoking men into reassessing their assumptions when they look at pictures of women. I was thinking about vulnerability in a way that would make a male viewer uncomfortable—like seeing your daughter in a vulnerable state'." (Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 2012, pp. 31-32)

The grand scale of the photograph augments its expressive resonance—each holding the wall at an impressive 24 by 48 inches, Sherman’s Centerfolds pioneered the advent of large-format fine art photography, assertively propelling the medium into museum circles and the canons of art history. One of the first artists to employ large scale photography as a means of producing conceptually driven artwork, this cutting-edge series bridges the elaborately constructed tableaux of Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky with Sherman’s Pictures Generation peers, the postmodernists Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo and Jack Goldstein.

Untitled #93 is among the most important and foundational works of Sherman’s career. Included in most of the artist’s pivotal career-shaping exhibitions, such as the current retrospective that opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012 and travelled to SFMOMA, the Walker Art Center and the Dallas Museum of Art, the present work is indisputably one of Sherman’s photographs that has received the widest attention and fostered significant critical discourse. Other examples of this edition are held in the collections of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Olso, while editions from the Centerfolds series are held in esteemed collections around the world, such as New York's Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they are treasured for their incalculable impact to the history of modern photography. The Centerfolds were singularly responsible for catapulting Sherman from the emerging success she found with the 1977 Untitled Film Stills to the meteoric stardom that we associate with the artist today. Sherman’s early supporter Janelle Reiring of Metro Pictures gallery unequivocally declared, "It was her second show with us—with the Centerfolds series from 1981—that seemed to change everything." (Janelle Reiring quoted in S.P. Hanson, "Art Dossier: Cindy Sherman," Art+Auction, February 2012)

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York