Contemporary Art Online | New York

Contemporary Art Online | New York

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 50. Untitled #121.

Property from the Estate of Barbara Spiegel Linhart

Cindy Sherman

Untitled #121

Lot Closed

July 21, 04:50 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Cindy Sherman

b. 1954

Untitled #121

signed, dated 1983 and numbered 4/18 on the reverse

cibachrome print

Print: 40 by 30 in.  (101.6 by 76.2 cm.)

Framed: 45 by 31 in.  (114.3 by 78.7 cm.)

Executed in 1983, this work is number 4 from an edition of 18. 

Metro Pictures, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989

Executed in 1983, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled # 121 (Girl with Pigtails) disarms the male gaze as an element of the grotesque unsettles the representation of the female body. The current work belongs to Sherman’s celebrated series of fashion photographs, which were commissioned by Diane Benson in 1983 for Interview magazine. In this series, Sherman continues her critical exploration of cultural stereotypes as she subverts the modes of display and the sexualization of the female form that were (and still are) popular in magazines by creating intentionally grotesque characters. As Sherman explains, “I really started to make fun, not of the clothes, but much more of the fashion. I was starting to put scar tissue on my face to become really ugly.”[1]

In this series, Sherman is thus concerned with the de-fetishization of the female subject. She unveils the woman underneath her cosmetic façade — although Sherman is still ironically putting on a disguise of her own. In the current work, the girl’s disheveled hair and contorted pose make a mockery of the typical fashion photograph. With a manic grin on her face, she stares threateningly toward the viewer. This woman is no longer the vulnerable, supine woman of Sherman’s Centerfolds (1981). Instead, bathed in blood-red light, she seems to contemplate some vengeance, and it is in fact the viewer who begins to feel at risk.

[1] Cindy Sherman, quoted in Sandy Nairne, The State of Affairs. Ideas and Images in the 1980s (London: Chatto & Windus, 1987), 136.