Lot 46
  • 46

Cindy Sherman

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • Cindy Sherman
  • Untitled #150
  • signed, dated 1985, and numbered 4/6 on a label affixed to the reverse
  • chromogenic color print
  • 49 1/2 by 66 3/4 in. 125.7 by 169.6 cm.


Metro Pictures, New York 
Private Collection, London
Simon Lee Gallery, London 
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2010


New York, Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, October 1985 (ed. no. 1/6)
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Malmö, Malmö Konsthall; and Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work, 1974-1995, May 1995 - February 1996, pl. 85, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Paris, Jeu de Paume; Bregenz, Kunsthaus Bregenz; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; and Berlin, Martin Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 2006 - September 2007, pp. 125 and 255, illustrated in color (edition no. unknown)
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet; Stockholm, Moderna Museet; and Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Cindy Sherman - Untitled Horrors, May 2013 - September 2014, pp. 14-15, illustrated in color (detail) and p. 104, illustrated in color (the present work)


Exh. Cat., Münster, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Cindy Sherman: Photographien, 1985, p. 16, illustrated (ed. no. 5/6)
Richard Marshall, 50 New York Artists, San Francisco, 1986, p. 109, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, 1987, no. 103, illustrated in color (another example) 
Gyoh Suzuki and Seiko Uyeda, Eds., Cindy Sherman, Tokyo, 1987, pp. 68-69, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Milan, Padiglione d' Arte Contemporanea di Milano, Cindy Sherman, 1990, p. 55, illustrated in color
Parkett 29, September 1991, pp. 2-3, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., New York, The National Arts Club, Something's Out There: Danger in Contemporary Photography, 1992, illustrated in color on the back cover (another example)
Rosalind Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 134-135, illustrated in color 
"Cindy Sherman ein Gespräch von Heinz-Norbert Jocks," Kunstforum International 133, February - April 1996, p. 238, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., Shiga, Japan, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 1996, p. 112, no. 53, illustrated in color (ed. no. 5/6)
Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, 1997, p. 133, no. 99, illustrated in color (another example) 
Gunilla Knape, Ed., The Hasselblad Award: Cindy Sherman, Götenborg, 2000, p. 15, illustrated in color (another example)
Claire Van Damme, Marijke Van Eeckhaut, et al., Look/Alike: Kunstenaarsprofielen en Artistiek Rollenspel in Hedendaagse Kunst, Gent, 2009, p. 122 (text)
Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art (and travelling), Cindy Sherman, 2012, p. 197, no. 147, illustrated in color (another example) 


This work is in excellent condition. The sheet was not inspected out of its frame. The work is framed in a wood frame painted black under Plexiglas.
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

Demonstrating an unparalleled dedication to a truly groundbreaking practice whilst continually evolving her synonymous artistic form, Cindy Sherman is undoubtedly one of the most important artists of her generation. With an iconic output that fuses the mediums of performance, photography and in later instances installation, Sherman’s expansive contribution to the history of contemporary art is profoundly revolutionary. Constructing captivating images of herself in an immense variety of imaginative guises, Sherman has created some of the most iconic photographs of this age, toying with questions of identity, gender stereotypes and the role of the artist through extensive series, each of which takes on its own aesthetic and conceptual concerns.  As one of the most visually arresting components of her famed 1985 Fairy Tales series, the present work not only epitomizes the macabre sensibilities of this small but important set of images, but it signals an important point of conceptual transition for the artist. Indeed, it is through Untitled #150 that Sherman radically expands her reach by challenging the expectations placed upon her as an artist, performing the crucial interrogation of stereotypes that drives her radical praxis.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Sherman explored the visual tropes used in the mass-representation of women through the act of assimilating stereotypes without a specific referent. Taking herself as the model and sole subject of each piece, the seminal Untitled Film Still series consisted of small black and white photographs that evoked b-movies and film noir scenes from the 1950s and 1960s. These early investigations into the depiction of femininity within the meta-narrative of modern visual culture gained further traction in her subsequent Centerfold and Fashion series.  Welcoming a feminist reading, such series were overwhelmingly lauded as a work of counter-cultural genius.  Whilst not seeking to undermine this radical discourse, by the early 1980s Sherman found herself pigeon-holed by the voracious market for her work. To challenge such preconceptions of her status as a female artist, she took a decided turn away from explicitly interrogating gender. Reveling in the dark and grotesque elements of legends and storytelling, Sherman expanded her commentary to the wider personality tropes and emotive characters that recur in popular culture and act as extreme comparative markers for shaping conceptions of identity, both lived and fictional.

As an iconic constituent of the 1985 Fairy Tales series, Untitled #150 epitomizes the macabre theatricality of this conceptual turn. Evoking the dark fantasy of the Brothers Grimm, Sherman transports us to a bizarre and indistinct fantasy world. Bathed in a sickly green light, a sweat drenched Sherman gazes with demonic cunning to the side of the frame. Brazenly dismissing the feminine tropes she previously took as subject, Sherman embraces not only a stark androgyny but a mythic compromise of her own humanity, adopting a beastly demeanor and emphasizing an obscene prosthetic tongue, wetted and glistening in the half-light. Inaugurating a crucial period in which Sherman begins to modify her appearance with plastic body parts, this peculiar appendage acts as a hinge for various potential narratives that mark the identity of our protagonist. Ravaged and thirsty, and blown to giant proportions in relation to the crowd of small figurines that navigate the backdrop, this mysterious figure claims no specific referent from folklore yet embodies an unsettling dichotomy of bloodthirsty monster and misguided child. “I wanted something visually offensive,” Sherman explained, “but seductive, beautiful and textural as well, to suck you up and then repulse you.” (the artist cited in Calvin Tomkins, “Her Secret Identities,” New Yorker, May 15, 2000, p. 81)

In Untitled #150 Sherman masterfully balances lighting and composition to create a shimmering tapestry of coarse contrasts.  The glaring white snow of the kitsch landscape scene illuminates the background, pushing the figure uncomfortably forward into shadow and giving an unsettlingly claustrophobic feel to our encounter.  The soft powder textures of the landscape chime discordantly with the highlights of the whetted tongue, Sherman’s dense perspiration and the lustful glare in her eyes. The resulting sense of unease, precarious calm and perhaps impending chaos, stand as markers of the artist's ability to masterfully craft a disembodied narrative within an image. Artfully she provides a sense of a specific literary precedent where there is none.  As such, the work stands as a symbol of her metamorphic practice as well as her status as an artist irreverent and unimpeded by tradition or expectation, but elevated by her own manipulation of the clichés she simultaneously destabilizes.