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    Sale 12151

    Bound to Fail

    8 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 6 A

    Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)

    Untitled (#175)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)
    Untitled (#175)
    signed, numbered and dated 'Cindy Sherman 1987 2/6' (on a label affixed to the reverse)
    color coupler print mounted on foamcore
    48 x 71 ½ in. (121.9 x 181.6 cm.)
    Executed in 1987. This work is number two from an edition of six.


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    “I wanted something visually offensive, but seductive, beautiful and textural as well, to suck you up and then repulse you.” Cindy Sherman

    There have been times when I made work in response to what was going on, when I began to feel like I was the flavor of the month…in the early ’80s. That’s what inspired the pictures with vomit and all that. Because I thought to myself, ‘Well, they think it’s all cute with the costumes and makeup, let’s see if they put this above their couch.” Cindy Sherman

    Feeling pigeonholed by her ever-increasing market as well as the feminist discourse regarding her works of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Cindy Sherman gradually dispensed with representations of the female in favor of increasingly grotesque and macabre scenes. Often removing herself from the photograph, Sherman utilized vomit, blood, hair and body parts in the fantastic and lurid tableaus that came to be known as her Fairy Tale and Disaster series. Equally repulsive and seductive, Untitled #175 features a visually rich landscape of decay. One of the only images of this period to incorporate the iconic face of the artist, Untitled #175 is an exceptional example of the artist’s work from the late 1980s. The sandy scene filled with half-eaten cupcakes, discarded Pop Tarts, a soiled beach towel and bottle of sunscreen has been both widely exhibited and heavily published within Sherman’s extensive art historical discourse.

    Painterly in both texture and color, Sherman’s all-over imagery from the late 1980s is immediately enticing. Seen from a distance, Untitled #175 possesses an uncanny attractiveness, its details unreadable in the mass of glowing colors and subtly modulating light and shadow. And yet, as quickly as the visual attributes draw you in, it becomes clear that there are much more ghoulish devises at play in this mise en scène. “I wanted something visually offensive,” Sherman has explained, “but seductive, beautiful and textural as well, to suck you up and then repulse you” (C. Sherman, quoted in C. Tomkins, “Her Secret Identities,” in New Yorker, 15 May 2000, p. 81). Underscoring Sherman’s preoccupation with both the cinema as well as horror and the abject, these theatrical pictures revel in their own artificiality. Having explored the cinematic in depth in the Untitled Film Stills, Sherman brings the same theatrical devices, themes and motifs into her Fairy Tales and Disasters. A carefully arranged tableau, Untitled #175 is a surrogate for a larger narrative with the central protagonist lying just outside the picture frame. But what happens once the director pans her camera? Is this the spoils of one woman’s war, or many? The suspense and suggestion of violence and danger lurking in the Untitled Film Stills is ever present, if not amplified and articulated to a much fuller extent in her works from this period—if not because of the information given, but that which the artist withholds.

    Revealing the fiction behind the illusion, Sherman deploys a heightened sense of artifice created by garish colors and eerie shadows. It is the same disillusionment that appears with in her Fairy Tales and Disasters that ignited the conception of the series. “I was nervous that I was too dependent on myself,” Sherman acknowledged of the evolution in her practice, “so I wanted to see if I could tell a story or make an image without including myself” (C. Sherman, quoted in “Cindy Sherman and John Waters: A Conversation,” in Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2012, p. 75). Likewise, the ever-increasing market for her earlier photographs prompted this turn, challenging her to play with the notion of creating work that was “unsaleable” due to its visceral depictions of vomit, body parts and macabre fairy tales. “There have been times when I made work in response to what was going on,” she explained, “when I began to feel like I was the flavor of the month for a new group of collectors in the early ’80s. That’s what inspired the pictures with vomit and all that. Because I thought to myself, ‘Well, they think it’s all cute with the costumes and makeup, let’s see if they put this above their couch.’ And it worked, they didn’t. It took a long time for that stuff to be accepted, much less sought after” (C. Sherman, interview with K. Baker, “Cindy Sherman: Interview with a Chameleon,” in San Francisco Chronicle, July 8, 2012, accessed at www.walkerart.org, April 1, 2016).

    Often politically charged, the art of the 1980s and 1990s echoed the contemporaneous debates on censorship in the arts and the specter of AIDS. Likewise, Sherman’s own investigation into the grisly and gruesome narratives of the Fairy Tales and Disaster series, led to the physical disintegration of the body in her work and her eventual disappearance from her pictures. Breaking down the socially manufactured components of “womanhood,” Untitled #175 emerges as a war zone of the effects of femininity. The push and pull of partially consumed food and vomit evokes both binging and purging disorders that have been commonly assigned to the female psyche. Laura Mulvey has explained in her essay “A Phantasmagoria of the Female Body: The Work of Cindy Sherman,”—“The late photographs are a reminder that the female psyche may well identify with misogynistic revulsion against the female body and attempt to erase signs that mark her physically as feminine. The images of decaying food and vomit raise the specter of the anorexic girl, who tragically acts out the fashion fetish of the female as an eviscerated, cosmetic and artificial construction designed to ward off the ‘otherness’ hidden in the ‘interior’” (L. Mulvey, “A Phantasmagoria of the Female Body: The Work of Cindy Sherman,” New York, 1991, p. 144).

    No longer feeling worthy of the gaze, Sherman’s visage is only a distant image—her desire for physical perfection now underscored by the misogynist and often stereotypical behavioral appearance of a female in the late 1980s. In Untitled #175, Sherman shows us that women who take on these performative acts are losing their own identity and possibly killing their physical selves. While her earlier works suggest femininity as masquerade and socially constructed images making up our ideas about women, the Disaster Series focuses on the destruction of corporeal body as a result of disorders of good times gone awry.

    Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Private collection, New York
    Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 14 November 2000, lot 12
    Skarstedt Fine Art, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Literature

    I. Takano and L. Simmons, Cindy Sherman, Tokyo, 1987, p. 88 (another example illustrated).
    R. Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 162-163, 193, 220 and 230 (another example illustrated in color).
    G. Neven Du Mont and W. Dickhoff, Cindy Sherman, Kunst Heute No. 14, Cologne, 1995, pp. 52-55 (another example illustrated).
    Y. Bois and R. Krauss, L'Informe: mode d'emploi, exh. cat., Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1996, pp. 226-227 (another example illustrated in color).
    J. Heyler, M. Elena Ramos and C. Hernandez, Cindy Sherman: Una selección de las colecciones de la Eli Broad Family Foundation, Caracas, 1997, p. 15 (another example illustrated).
    C. Morris, The Essential Cindy Sherman, New York, 1999, p. 84 (another example illustrated).
    R. Steiner and L. Moore, Cindy Sherman, London, 2003, p. 16.
    J. Burton, ed., Cindy Sherman, October Files 6, Cambridge, 2006, pp. 75 and 89, no. 22 (another example illustrated).
    F. Stocchi, Cindy Sherman, Supercontemporanea series, Milan, 2007, pp. 58-59.
    J. Harris, ed., Identity Theft: The Cultural Colonization of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, 2008, p. 122 (another example illustrated in color).
    H. Werner Holzwarth, ed., 100 Contemporary Artists, Cologne, 2009, p. 540 (another example illustrated in color).
    R. Olivares, ed., “Once Upon a Time,” Exit, no. 33, April 2009, p. 123 (another example illustrated).
    L. Essling, ed. Untitled Horrors, Ostfildern, 2013, p. 116.
    E. Heartney, et al., After the Revolution: Women Who Transformed Art, Munich, 2007, p. 180 (another example illustrated in color).
    D. Anfam, et al., eds., Cindy Sherman, London, 2014, p. 93, no. 77 (another example illustrated in color).


    Exhibited

    New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, July-October 1987, pl. 126 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, Cindy Sherman: The Self Which is Not One, June-July 1995, n.p (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Malmö, Kunsthall and Luzern, Kunstmuseum, Cindy Sherman: Photoarbeiten 1975-1995, May 1995-February 1996, no. 96 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Bilbao, Sala de Exposiciones REKALDE and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Cindy Sherman, March 1996-March 1997, pp. 76-77, pl. 31 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery; Bordeaux, CAPC musée d'art contemporain and Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, November 1997-January 2000, pp. 141 and 198, pl. 107 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Flashback: Revisiting the Art of the 80s, October 2005-February 2006, p. 172 (another example exhibited).
    Paris, Jeu de Paume; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 2006-September 2007, pp. 130-131, 255, 295 and 317 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    Greenwich, Bruce Museum, Cindy Sherman: Works from Friends of the Bruce Museum, January-April 2011, pp. 29, 30 and 63 (illustrated in color).
    New York, Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center and Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, February 2012-June 2013, pp. 36, 61, 170-171 and 243, pl. 116 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
    New York, David Zwirner, No Problem: Cologne/New York 1984-1989, May-June 2014, pp. 49 and 274 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).