Cindy Sherman (b. 1954)
Cindy Sherman (b. 1954)

Untitled Film Still, #24

Cindy Sherman (b. 1954)
Untitled Film Still, #24
signed, number and dated ‘Cindy Sherman 3/3 1978’ (on the reverse)
gelatin silver print
image: 26 x 37in. (66 x 94cm.)
overall: 27 7/8 x 39in. (71 x 99cm.)
Executed in 1978, this work is number three from an edition of three
Metro Pictures, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in June 2001.
R. Krauss, Cindy Sherman, 1975-1993, New York 1993, p. 225.
C. Sherman, The Complete Untitled Film Stills, exh. cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, 2003, p. 92 (illustrated in colour, p. 93).
L. Cooke and D. Crimp (eds.), Mixed Use Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices, 1970s to the Present, exh. cat., Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2010, no. 58 (illustrated in colour, p. 121).
G. Schor, Cindy Sherman, The Early Works 1975-1977, Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit 2012, p. 42.
E. Respini (ed.), Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2012, p. 262 (illustrated in colour, p. 105).
Klosterneuburg, Essl Museum - Kunst der Gegenwart, Augenblick - Foto, 2002, p. 47.
Budapest, Museum Ludwig, Human Stories, Fotografie und Malerei aus der Sammlung Essl, 2003.
Klosterneuburg, Sammlung Essl - Kunst der Gegenwart, Visions of America: Zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Sammlung Essl und der Sonnabend Collection, New York, 2004-2005, p. 301 (illustrated on the cover, pp. 137, 145 and 215).
Paris, Jeu de Paume, Cindy Sherman, 2006-2007, pp. 34 and 316 (another from the smaller scale edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, pp. 45 and 242). This exhibition later travelled to Humblebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau.
Klosterneuburg, Essl Museum - Kunst der Gegenwart, Passion for Art: 35th Anniversary of the Essl Collection, vol. II, 2007, p. 554 (illustrated in colour pp. 25 and 55).
Klosterneuburg, Sammlung Essl - Kunst der Gegenwart, Foto.Kunst, 2007 (illustrated in colour, pp. 259 and 315).
Klosterneuburg, Sammlung Essl - Kunst der Gegenwart, Vier Tage Sammlung Essl, 2009.
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Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.’ (C. Sherman, quoted in G. Collins ‘A Portraitist’s Romp Through Art History’, in The New York Times, 1 February 1990).

Instantly recognisable, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills series are regarded as the most influential and celebrated series of her oeuvre. As if capturing the climactic moment of a film noir, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still, #24-A, 1978, introduces a lone woman looking apprehensively into the distance, peering at a character or scene just beyond our vision. Both cannily familiar, yet impossible to identify, Sherman poses as a female protagonist from the world of cinema. Using a host of detritus acquired by the artist over many years, Sherman weaves together an elaborate persona whose identity, though familiar, is never explicit. Performing as both protagonist and director, Sherman lures the viewer into the composition, introducing a plethora of possible narratives.

The Untitled Film Stills from the late 1970s were influential in the field of photography and contemporary art for their engagement with ideas surrounding identity and constructed reality. Prompting notions of the uncanny in their strangely familiar yet undoubtedly ambiguous compositions, Sherman’s series presents the artistic self through imagery suggestive of film, television and media in a way that critiques modernist assumptions and societal constructs. And yet in a postmodern twist, the Untitled Film Stills do not exist as appropriations of ‘original’ films – they exist in the peculiar state of feeling like a copy from which no original exists. This simulcral tendency is amplified in the Untitled Film Stills through Sherman’s deft play of female stereotypes. Photographed alone, Sherman assumes various archetypal female roles that were prevalent in postwar America: the glamorous actress, the caring housewife.

Construing scenes that are evocative of 1960s and 1960s films, Sherman mined 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. Indeed Sherman references the influence of European cinema on the creation of her art: ‘I was mostly going for the look of European as opposed to Hollywood types,’ she later explained. ‘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’ (C. Sherman, ‘The Making of Untitled’, in The Complete Untitled Film Stills, New York 2003, p. 8).

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