Lot 50
  • 50

Cindy Sherman

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Cindy Sherman
  • Untitled #88
  • signed, dated 1981 and numbered 8/10 on the reverse
  • chromogenic print
  • 24 x 48 in. 61 x 122 cm.
  • Executed in 1981, this work is number eight from an edition of ten.


Metro Pictures, New York
Saatchi Collection, London
Ash Fine Art, New York
Skarstedt Fine Art, New York (acquired from the above in 1999)
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2005


New York, Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, November - December 1981 (edition no. unknown)
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Eight Artists: The Anxious Edge, April - June 1982, cat. no. 10, p. 15, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Ghent, Gewad; Bristol, Watershed Gallery; Southampton, Jack Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton; Erlangen, Palais Stutterheim; West Berlin, Haus Am Waldsee; Geneva, Centre d'Art Contemporain; Copenhagen, Sonja Henie and Niels Onstadt Foundation; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum für Moderne Kunst, Cindy Sherman, December 1982 - April 1984, cat. no. 54, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Tokyo, Laforet Museum, Cindy Sherman, April - May 1984, n.p., illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art; Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, July 1987 - April 1988, p. 54 (edition no. unknown)
Manchester, Manchester City Art Galleries, Possession, September - November 1994 (the present example)
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Malmö, Malmö Konsthall; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work 1975-1995, May 1995 - February 1996, cat. no. 38, pp. 70-71, illustrated in color (the present example) 
New York, Skarstedt Fine Art, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds, May - June 2003, pp. 16-17, illustrated in color (the present example)
New York, Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, February 2012 - June 2013, pl. 93, pp. 140-141, illustrated in color (the present example)


Andy Grunberg, "Cindy Sherman: A Playful and Political Post-Modernist," New York Times, November 22, 1981, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Peter Schjeldahl, Cindy Sherman, New York, 1984, pl. 54, n.p., illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Rosalind Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 96-97, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman: A Retrospective, 1997, pl. 73, p. 102, illustrated in color (another example)
Catherine Morris, The Essential Cindy Sherman, New York, 1999, illustrated in color on the cover (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Paris, Jeu de Paume (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 2006, pp. 82-83 and p. 249, illustrated in color (another example)

Catalogue Note

Untitled #88 is one of twelve photographs from Cindy Sherman’s historically important 1981 series titled Centerfolds, a staggeringly compelling and audacious artistic triumph whose enormous impact on both the trajectory of modern photography and the advent of postmodernist thought cannot be overstated. A send-up of the classic centerfold pin-up girl who unfurls from the pages of a pornographic magazine, Sherman’s contemporary Olympia subverts the voyeuristic genre with a figure who is gripped by anxiety, ambiguous terror, and alarming vidual confinement. Initially commissioned for the pages of Artforum by then editor Ingrid Sischy, Sherman produced the Centerfolds in direct response to the magazine’s horizontal, two-page layout format. 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, kneeled and hunched in oppressive darkness. Conveying a viscerally paralyzing sensation, the viewer shares in the claustrophobia imposed by the horizontal boundaries of the centerfold—Sherman’s figure physically crouches into the frame, gripping her knees and arching her back uncomfortably as if pushed inward by the top and bottom edges of the photograph. The troubled woman, gripped by fear and unease as her palm clutches her chin and her vacant gaze drifts from sight, is constrained by the parameters of the camera’s lens, lending the photographic medium a palpable agency central to Sherman’s postmodern interrogation of image-making.

Fearing a 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. The photographs were exhibited at Metro Pictures to wide praise in the fall of 1981. Writing for the Village Voice at the time, Roberta Smith wrote, “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 offered 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, while the palette of saturated colors and theatrical lighting also intensify 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. As one of the first artists to employ large scale photography as a means of producing conceptually driven artwork, Sherman’s cutting-edge series bridged the elaborately constructed tableaus of Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky with Sherman’s Pictures Generation peers, the postmodernists Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, and Jack Goldstein.

Untitled #88 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 that has since traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 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. Editions from the series are held in esteemed collections around the world, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, where they are celebrated 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)