Property from the Bransten Family Collection

Untitled #48

Untitled #48
signed, numbered and dated 'Cindy Sherman 1979 5/10' (on the reverse)
gelatin silver print
8 x 10 in. (20.32 x 25.4 cm.)
Executed in 1979. This work is number five from an edition of ten.
Metro Pictures, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Their sale; Sotheby's, New York, 19 November 1996, lot 46
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
I. Blazwick, "Urban Kisses," The Literary Review, 1982, p. 24 (another example illustrated).
G. Marzorati, "Imitation of Life," ARTnews, September 1983, p. 84 (another example illustrated).
I. Takano and L. Simmons, Cindy Sherman, Tokyo, 1987, pp. 16-17 (another example illustrated).
S. Nairne, G. Dunlop, and J. Wyver, State of the Art; Ideas and Images in the 1980s, New York, 1987, p. 132, pl. 101 (another example illustrated).
H. Smacula, Currents: Contemporary Directions in the Visual Arts, New York, 1989, p. 211 (another example illustrated).
C. Danto, Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills, New York, 1990, no. 33 (another example illustrated).
D. Friend, The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here, New York, 1991, p. 155 (another example illustrated).
E. Jelinek, "Sidelines," Parkett No. 29, 1991, p. 83 (another example illustrated).
R. Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 12-13, 222 and 226 (another example illustrated and on the cover).
P. de Laboulaye and J. de Ponton d'Armécount, Contemporary Photography-Group Lhoist Collection, Belgium, 1995, p. 137 (another example illustrated).
A. Adato, "Camera At Work," Life Magazine, May 1996, p. 120-121 (another example illustrated).
C. Vogel, "Pop Art Wins Another 15 Minutes," New York Times, 20 November 1996, p. C21.% Una selección de las colecciones de la Eli Broad Family Foundation, exh. cat., Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, 1997, pp. 9-10 (another example illustrated).
J. Belcove, "The Sherman Act," W Magazine, June 1997, pp. 189-190 (another example illustrated).
H. Muschamp, "Knowing Looks," Artforum, summer 1997, p. 111 (another example illustrated).
B. Schwabsky, "Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills," On Paper, November/December 1997 (another example illustrated).
C. Morris, The Essential Cindy Sherman, New York, 1999, p. 47 (another example illustrated).
D. Frankel, ed., Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, New York, 2003 pp. 156-157 (another example illustrated).
S.P. Hanson, "Artist Dossier: Cindy Sherman," Art+Auction, February 2012.
Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum, Cindy Sherman, February-March 1980 (another example exhibited).
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Eight Artists: The Anxious Edge, April-June 1982, p. 41 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Bonn, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Lichtbildnisse: The Portrait in Photography, 1982 (another example exhibited).
London, Institute of Contemporary Art and Liverpool, Bluecoat Gallery, Urban Kisses/Slum Kisses, October 1982-Winter 1983 (another example exhibited).
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Ghent, Gewad; Bristol, Watershed Gallery; Southampton, Jack Hansard Gallery; Erlangen, Palais Stutterheim; West Berlin, Haus Am Waldsee; Geneva, Centre d'Art Contemporain; Copenhagen, Sonja Henie and Niels Onstad Foundation and Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum, Cindy Sherman, December 1982-April 1984, no. 30 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Milwaukee Art Museum, New Figuration in America, December 1982-January 1983 (another example exhibited).
Stony Brook, Fine Art Center Gallery, Cindy Sherman, October-November 1983 (another example exhibited).
Akron Art Museum; Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Art; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art; Baltimore Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; Whitney Museum of American Art; Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art and Dallas Museum of Art, Cindy Sherman, June 1984-April 1988, pl. 30 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Cindy Sherman, January-March 1986 (another example exhibited).
London, National Portrait Gallery; Plymouth Arts Center; Southampton, John Hansard Gallery and Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Staging the Self: Self Portrait Photography 1840s-1980s, November 1986-January 1987, pp. 77 and 126 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art and Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art; Cindy Sherman, July-October 1987, p. 17, pl. 30 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation, May-August 1989 (another example exhibited).
Milan, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Cindy Sherman, October-November 1990, pp. 28 and 91 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Kusthalle Basel; Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst and London, Whitechapel Gallery, Cindy Sherman, March-September 1991, p. 24 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
London, Saatchi Collection, Cindy Sherman, Richard Artschwager, Richard Wilson, January-July 1991, pl. 78 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Exploring the Unknown Self: Self Portrait of Contemporary Women, June-August 1991, p. 21, pl. 1 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Recent Acquisitions: Photography, February-April 1993 (another example exhibited).
Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum, Directions: Cindy Sherman--Film Stills, March-June 1995, n.p., pl. 48 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen; Mälmo, Kunsthall and Lucern, Kunstmuseum, Cindy Sherman: Photoarbeiten 1975-1996, May 1995-February 1996, pl. 33 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; Bilboa, Sala de Exposiciones REKALDE and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Cindy Sherman, March 1996-March 1997, p. 16, no. 23 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Shiga, Museum of Modern Art; Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cindy Sherman, July 1996-December 1996, p. 78, pl. 27 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Paris, Jeu de Paume; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 2006-September 2007, p. 316 (another example illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Film Stills, June-September 1997 (another example exhibited).
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery and Bordeux, Musée d'art contemporain, Cindy Sherman Retrospective, November 1997-April 1999, p. 83, pl. 47 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Greenwich, Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Remembering Henry's Show, May 2009-January 2010, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Haunch of Venison, Your history is not our history, March-May 2010, p. 63 (illustrated).
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. 21, 60, 71, 114, and 242, pl. 62 (another example illustrated).

Lot Essay

John Waters: But why did some of them--like the one where you're hitchhiking [#48]--stand out so much?

Cindy Sherman: I don't know; maybe what's so "iconic" is that you don't even see the girl's face. She's got her back to the camera, so it's like anybody can imagine who she is.

Analogous to the deserted traveler in Untitled Film Still No. 48, Cindy Sherman's snapshot lures the viewer into an uncertain journey, where one continuously discovers oneself at a solitary point within the continuum of a narrative that has no definitive beginning or end. Distinguished as the artist's most prescient and influential body of work, the Untitled Film Stills from the late 1970s generated new vistas in the field of photography and contemporary art. Both cannily familiar, yet impossible to identify, Sherman poses as the female protagonist from the world of cinema. Yet, in their own simulacral nature, the Untited Film Stills do not exist in any "original" form--not in an actual film, nor in a publicity shot or ad--rather they are caught in an unusual limbo--the peculiar condition of being a copy without an original. The subject of a camera that is both in a persistent and voyeuristic pursuit of the artist, Untitled Film Still No. 48 opens the camera frame to a wide shot of a dramatic western landscape, where Sherman masquerades as a lone fair-haired woman, who faces tentatively into the eerie distance, waiting to hitch a ride into some unknown fate. It is in this drama that Untitled Film Still No. 48 is arguably the most epic image in the series.

With consummate finesse and utmost intelligence, Sherman's Untitled Film Stills mine stereotypes in compellingly persuasive narratives or visual codes, drawing from a trove of filmic practices--lighting, cropping, framing, and camera angle--as well as bodily conventions--clothing, gestures, and poses. Each of the 69 film stills captures Sherman alone, peering at a character or vision that stands just beyond our view--although often the camera is placed at a vantage point that suggests that we, the viewer, are positioned as a voyeur in the shadows. While Sherman's work has encouraged much debate about the presence of the "male gaze," as well as numerous post-modern critiques about how certain manners of looking can be manipulated to regulate or oppress individuals within a culture, the artist herself has admitted that such a notion was not consciously present when she conceived the series. And yet repeatedly, the characters she embodied were women who seem to be meandering on a path that might lead to somewhere outside the borders of which society had proscribed them, lending a resistant voice to her work.

Photographed during one of Sherman's family vacations to Arizona, No. 48--which Sherman herself has dubbed "The Hitchhiker"--and its West Coast counterparts are often characterized as slightly softer with a more muted contrast than her Film Stills shot in Manhattan. As a result the 1979 images recall the Pictorialist photographs of Alfred Stieglitz's circle. Infusing the photograph with a diffused, yet eerie glow, these images heighten the menacing idea of what the critic, Arthur Danto, christened "The Girl in Trouble." "The stills are dense with suspense and danger," Danto stated, "and they all look as if they were directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The invariant subject is The Girl in Trouble, even if The Girl herself does not always know it...The girl is always alone, waiting, worried, watchful, but she is wary of, waiting for, worried about, and her very posture and expression phenomenologically imply The Other: the Stalker, the Saver, the Evil and Good who struggle for her possession" (A. Danto, quoted in Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills, New York, 1990, p. 13).

Utilizing the landscape as an essential part of the composition, Sherman recalled of "The Hitchhiker" that, "Out there I wanted to be further away from the camera; I didn't want to compete with the landscape I liked being smaller in the picture and having the scenery take over" (C. Sherman, Cindy Sherman, The Complete Untitled Film Stills, New York, 2003, pg. 14). Dressed in the guise of a seemingly innocent young girl, standing haltingly at the edge of an empty highway with a small suitcase, the image's drama is amplified by the way she is dwarfed amongst the grand landscape in the ambiguous light of either dusk or dawn. Implementing her flash for fill-in, the lonely figure appears almost as a cut-out against the background, intensifying the sense of her estrangement. Whether this character is escaping from an unknown drama or simply yearning to leave a life too mundane for her ambitions remains symptomatically unclear.

While the sense of place in No. 48 is distinctly of the American West, Sherman's visual character is intrinsically influenced by European cinema. "I was mostly going for the look of European as opposed to Hollywood types," she later attested. "I liked the Hitchcock look, Antonioni, Neorealist stuff. What I didn't want were pictures showing strong emotion. It was European film stills that I'd find women who were more neutral. If the emotional quotient was too high--the photograph would seem campy" (Ibid., pg. 8). And yet, here, the face is completely blocked from view, guarding any emotions--worries or delights--from the viewer. And simultaneously, as Sherman shuts the viewer out, she opens the scene to a myriad of interpretations.

"The Girl is an allegory for something deeper and darker, in the mythic unconscious of everyone, regardless of sex. For The Girl is the contemporary realization of the Fair Princess in the Far Tower, the red-clad child in the wolf-haunted woods, the witch-sought Innocent lost in trackless forest, Dorothy and Snow-White and The Littlest Rebel in a universe of scary things. Each of the stills is about The Girl in Trouble, but in the aggregate they touch the myth we each carry out of childhood, of danger, love, and security that defines the human condition" (A. Danto, quoted in op cit., p. 14).

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