Lot 78
  • 78

Cindy Sherman

150,000 - 200,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Cindy Sherman
  • Untitled Film Still #21
  • signed, dated ©1978 and inscribed "City Girl" on the reverse
  • gelatin silver print
  • 8 by 10 in.
  • 20.3 by 25.4 cm.
  • Executed in 1978, this work is number 1 from an edition of 10.


Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner
By descent to the present owner


Amsterdam, The Stedelijk Museum; Ghent, Gewad; Bristol, Watershed Gallery; 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, Cindy Sherman, 1982, p. 17, another example exhibited
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art; The Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, July - October 1987, pl. 17, another example exhibited
Kunsthalle Basel; Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Cindy Sherman, March - September 1991, p.19, illustrated, another example exhibited
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum, Directions: Cindy Sherman - Film Stills, March - June 1995, another example exhibited
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Malmö, Kunsthall; Luzerne, Kustmuseum, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work, 1975-1995, May 1995 - February 1996, pl.4, another example exhibited 
Shiga, Museum of Modern Art; Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art;  Tokyo, Museum of  Contemporary Art, Cindy Sherman, July - December 1996, another example exhibited
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen; Madrid, Palacio de Velzquez, Parque del Retiro Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; Bilbao, Sala de Exposiciones Rekalde; and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Cindy Sherman, March 1996 - March 1997, cat. no. 27, another example exhibited
New York, Museum of Modern Art,The Complete Untitled Film Stills: Cindy Sherman, June - September 1997, p. 35, another example exhibited
Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery; capc, Musée d'art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, February 1998 - January 2000, p. 68, pl. 22, another example exhibited
Paris, Jeu de Paume; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Copenhagen; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 2006 - September 2007, n.p., another example exhibited


Peter Schjeldahl and Michael Danoff, Cindy Sherman, 1984, New York, pl. 17, illustrated
Arthur C. Danto, Untitled Film Still: Cindy Sherman, Munich, 1990/1998, pl. 16, illustrated
Rosalind Krauss, Cindy Sherman 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 30-31, pl. 225, illustrated
Catherine Morris, The Essential: Cindy Sherman, New York, p. 43, illustrated
Gunilla Knape, ed., The Hasselblad Award, 1999, Cindy Sherman, 2000, Göteborg, p. 41, illustrated
Johanna Burton, Cindy Sherman: The October Files, Boston, 2006, p. 102, illustrated
Gabriele Schor, Cindy's Original Scene: Doll Clothes, Parkett, No. 78, 2006, p. 22, illustrated
Daniel Birnbaum, Cornelia H. Bulter and Suzanne Cotter, Definining Contemporary Art: 25 Years in 200 Pivotal Artworks, London, 2011, p.30, illustrated


This work is in very good condition overall. There is very minor wear along the edges, with minor creasing at the corners. There are 2 inch and 1/2 inch creases at the lower left corner. There is a 1 inch unobtrusive abrasion in the upper left quadrant. The work is hinged verso along the top edge to the mat. Framed under glass.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Cindy Sherman's iconic Film Still #21 is perhaps the most profound image that grew out of the "second wave" of the feminist movement. In this image captured in 1978, the artist famously casts herself as the subject. In a single powerful frame, the image of a demure 1950's working girl migrates into the persona of a confident, confrontational, modern 1970's business woman. Her face is positioned slightly at an angle so one can see glimpses of the towering edifices behind her. The urban jungle as background is slightly blurred as if the subject has conquered the world behind her while she is continuing to forge ahead. Sherman, "cast" as professional woman, is dressed in a fashionable winged blouse under her suit jacket as if heading to her office. Her seductive, penetrating gaze looks off into the distance denying one the ability to distract her from her personal mission.  

As Amanda Cruz has suggested, Sherman's Untitled Film Stills "relates to feminist performance work of the 1970s by artists such as Eleanor Anton and Adrian Piper, who Sherman has identified as early influences". [1] Sherman, much like her contemporaries, decided that she will serve as a muse but only because she has elected to do so and thus asserted herself in this role. She is not only the subject/lead actress but the director, producer and screenplay writer in this monumentally groundbreaking series. 

The "second wave" of the feminist movement gained traction in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the writings and orations of women such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. The movement celebrated a woman's right to be equal with her male counterpart; to seize control over her own body and make both personal and professional choices regarding her future opportunities. These women as well as innumerable other influential figures would certainly have been familiar to Sherman. However intentionally or subconsciously, the artist channeled their mantras in her visual practice and particularly in this body of work. In the Untitled Film Stills the artist traces the female archetypal role in its rapidly evolving arc from the damsel in distress or fearful victim to a woman in control of her destiny. She is as powerful as the city behind her and will not be defeated.

[1] Cindy Sherman, A Retrospective, New York, p. 5