Lot 15
  • 15

Cindy Sherman

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Cindy Sherman
  • Untitled #193
  • colour photograph


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


Rosalind Krauss & Norman Bryson, Cindy Sherman 1975-1993, Münich 1993, p. 189, illustration of another example in colour
Christa Schneider, Cindy Sherman, History Portraits, Münich 1995, p. 18, no. 18, illustratration of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Paris, Jeu de Paume and travelling, Cindy Sherman, 2006-07, pp. 137 & 257, illustration of another example in colour

Catalogue Note

A highlight of Cindy Sherman's critically-acclaimed photographic series 'History Portraits', Untitled #193 encapsulates the principle tenets underpinning her entire oeuvre in a single, iconic self-image. Taking as her source Francois Boucher's A Lady on her Day Bed of 1743 and now in the Frick Collection, New York, Sherman appropriates the image but casts herself in the lead role, thereby contesting the very notion of originality and authenticity in art while simultaneously raising important questions about the representation of the self.


While her earlier black and white Film Stills of the 1970s sought to expropriate the generic and hackneyed clichés of popular film culture, the present series looks to mine the canon of art history, culling the images of the past whose subject matters and iconographical terminologies are embedded in our shared consciousness. Sherman alchemises the subject from this painting of Boucher's wife to her own reconfigured genre of photography that she coins as History Portrait. The changed nuance of title is important here, because each work is indeed a portrait, a self-image of the artist. Re-enacting the scene, Sherman assumes the countenance, style of dress and attributes of the French Rococo's objectified coquette, whose connotations of luxury and excess are translated into her own aesthetic, complete with dramatic stage make-up and prosthetic breasts. The picture takes on the characteristics of performance art and the imperfections of the disguise force us to focus on the artifice of the scene and serve to remind us that we are looking at the artist herself.


Through portraying a female protagonist, Sherman highlights female representation in art and the stereotypes that it engenders. Until the Twentieth Century, women were almost exclusively the subjects rather than the practitioners of fine art; by appropriating the personas of these sitters, Sherman becomes both subject-matter and artist, encouraging in the modern viewer a critical reappraisal of the role and significance of women in art history. With its complex layers of meaning, Untitled #193 is a work that confronts the possibilities of re-presentation of the ready-made. One of her most accomplished compositions, it enshrines in a stunning image Sherman's groundbreaking contribution to the discourse on contemporary art photography.