UNTITLED FILM STILL #81
large-format, flush-mounted, signed, dated and editioned '3/3' in ink on the reverse, framed, a signed Metro Pictures label on the reverse, 1980
36 by 25¼ in. (91.4 by 64.1 cm.)
This photograph is in generally excellent condition. It is flush-mounted to thick board. The following are visible in high raking light: a very soft crease near the left edge of the sitter's skirt hem, possibly a result of the mounting process; and 2 one-inch parallel hairline scratches in the upper left quadrant. There are 2 tiny deposits of original retouching near the sitter's skirt hem that have shifted slightly in tonality.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE INCLUDED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Metro Pictures, New York
Sandroni.Rey, Los Angeles, circa 2001
Rosalind Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993 (New York, 1993), p. 226
Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2003), p. 125
Julie Rouart, ed., Cindy Sherman (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 2006), pp. 54, 245
Eva Respini, Cindy Sherman (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2012), p. 94
Cindy Sherman’s ground-breaking series Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980) comprises 70 images of the artist dressed in various female guises. These black-and-white photographs—Sherman’s most well-known and celebrated body of work—solidified her artistic practice of using her own body as the main element in the expanding repertoire of portraits that she continues to make. The provocative moment captured in each Untitled Film Still suggests a rich story, but Sherman never fills in the heroine’s circumstances. Instead, each viewer must imagine the details for him or herself. Likewise, Sherman did not title the Film Stills so that they retain their ambiguity and open-endedness.
‘Some of the photographs are meant to be a solitary woman and some are meant to allude to another person outside the frame,’ Sherman has noted (The Complete Untitled Film Stills, p. 8). Untitled Film Still #81 seesaws between these two scenarios. Is the raven-haired woman in a lacy slip observing herself in the vanity mirror, or is someone watching this coquettish performance from the room beyond the bathroom door? Is she getting ready to go to sleep (in this case, her slip becomes a nightgown), or is she preparing for a rendezvous with her lover? The compressed space of the hallway and bathroom highlight the lithe lines of her body. The reflection of her face, framed by her own arm and hair, creates a complex composition that challenges us to make spatial sense of the compact environment.
Complete sets of the 8-by-10-inch Untitled Film Stills are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York. The large-format Untitled Film Stills, such as the present photograph, were printed in a limited edition of 3. At the time of this writing, it is believed that no other large-format print of Untitled Film Still #81 has appeared at auction.