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Untitled #150

Untitled #150
signed, numbered and dated 'Cindy Sherman 2/6 1985' (on a paper label affixed to the backing board)
chromogenic print
49 ½ x 66 ¾ in. (125.7 x 168.5 cm.)
Executed in 1985. This work is number two from an edition of six plus an artist's proof.
Metro Pictures, New York
Skarstedt Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006
Cindy Sherman: Photographien, exh. cat., Münster, Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1985, p. 16 (illustrated).
R. Marshall, 50 New York Artists, San Francisco, 1986, p. 109 (illustrated).
G. Suzuki and S. Uyeda, eds., Cindy Sherman, Tokyo, 1987, pp. 68-69 (illustrated).
Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Milan, Padiglione d' Arte Contemporanea di Milano, 1990, p. 55 (illustrated).
J. Baldessari and C. Sherman, Parkett 29, September 1991, pp. 2-3 (illustrated).
Something's Out There: Danger in Contemporary Photography, exh. cat., New York, The National Arts Club, 1992 (illustrated on the back cover).
R. Krauss, Cindy Sherman: 1975-1993, New York, 1993, pp. 134-135 (illustrated).
"Cindy Sherman ein Gespräch von Heinz-Norbert Jocks," Kunstforum International 133, February-April 1996, p. 238 (illustrated).
Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Shiga, Japan, Museum of Modern Art, 1996, p. 112, no. 53 (illustrated).
G. Knape, ed., The Hasselblad Award: Cindy Sherman, Götenborg, 2000, p. 15 (illustrated).
C. Van Damme, M. Van Eeckhaut, et al., Look/Alike: Kunstenaarsprofielen en Artistiek Rollenspel in Hedendaagse Kunst, Gent, 2009, p. 122.
P. Moorehouse, Cindy Sherman, New York, 2014, p. 81, pl. 65 (illustrated).
New York, Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, October 1985 (another example from the edition exhibited).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, July-October 1987, pl. 103 (another example from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
New York, The National Arts Club, Something's Out There: Danger in Contemporary Photography, March 1992 (another example from the edition exhibited and illustrated on the back cover).
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen Hamburg; Malmö, Malmö Konsthall and Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Cindy Sherman: Photographic Work, 1974-1995, May 1995-February 1996, pl. 85 (another example from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
Portland Art Museum, Hard Choices: Works from the Permanent Collection, November 1995-March 1996 (another example from the edition exhibited).
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; Prague, Galerie Rudolfinum; London, Barbican Art Gallery; CAPC Musée d'art Contemporain de Bordeaux; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of Ontario, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, November 1997-January 2000, p. 133, no. 99 (another example from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Fairy Tales-1985, May-July 2000 (another example from the edition exhibited).
Paris, Jeu de Paume; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Berlin, Martin Gropius-Bau, Cindy Sherman, May 2006-September 2007, pp. 125 and 255 (another example from the edition exhibited and illustrated).
Portland Art Museum, 70 Years / 70 Photographs, May-September 2012 (another example from the edition exhibited).
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. 197 and 243, pl. 147 (illustrated).
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet; Stockholm, Moderna Museet; and Kunsthaus Zürich, Cindy Sherman-Untitled Horrors, May 2013-September 2014, pp. 14-15 and 104 (another example from the edition illustrated and detail view illustrated).
Paris, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Cindy Sherman at the Fondation, September 2020-January 2021, p. 129 and 236 (illustrated).

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Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Head of Department

Lot Essay

By the mid-1980s, Cindy Sherman had been steadily garnering critical and commercial acclaim as one of the leading artists of her generation. By portraying different characters that she arranged in haunting, yet beautiful, tableaus, she subtly dismantled prevailing notions of femininity and gender to create a wide range of powerful yet provocative work. Beginning with the Film Stills in 1977, and followed by the Centerfolds in 1981, and Fashion in 1983, each series seemed to build upon the success of the former, so that by the mid ‘80s, Sherman sought out newer and more challenging subject matter. In the present work, she looked to the sublime darkness concealed within childrens' fairy tales for inspiration.
Executed in 1985, Untitled #150 illustrates the intoxicating mix of grotesquerie and seduction that makes the Fairy Tales series such an important conceptual departure for the artist. It would influence much of her subsequent work, and has been cited and widely reproduced in the literature about the artist. Measuring nearly six feet in width, the closely-cropped, full color photograph ventures into a new territory, depicting a strange, monstrous creature that’s beaded in sweat and fondling its own tongue. Like a Gollum sitting high on a hilltop overlooking its prey, the creature is caught in its own perverse thoughts. Licking its murky fingers, it looms over the tiny inhabitants below. A strange beauty pervades the scene however, which is lit by a kind of yellowish-green half-light that makes the beads of sweat appear to glow and the softness of the creature’s skin—in actuality Sherman’s own nude body—strikingly tender despite its appearance.
Exhibited at Metro Pictures in 1985, the Fairy Tales were some of the artist’s first large-scale color photographs, and are now viewed as an important part of Sherman’s oeuvre that deepens our understanding of her work. It also marked the first time she began to use plastic body parts, which would become a crucial component to the many disguises and alter egos she would create over the course of her career. The bright red plastic tongue in Untitled #150 adds yet another odd component to the otherwise bizarre scene. “I wanted there to be hints of narrative everywhere in the image so that people can make up their own stories about them,” Sherman recently explained. “It shouldn’t seem so real that it looks like it was shot in a studio today. I want it to transcend time somehow” (C. Sherman, quoted in T. Adams, “Interview: Cindy Sherman, Why Am I in These Photos?,” The Guardian, July 3, 2016).
While the Centerfolds had been commissioned by Artforum magazine in 1983, the Fairy Tales were originally intended for Vanity Fair. To prepare for the series, Sherman poured over some of the darkest childrens’ literature, including the Brothers Grimm and Aesops fables. She gravitated toward the dark humor embodied within the folk tales and its common themes of savagery, cannibalism and death. These dark undercurrents are made all the more terrifying considering they were originally intended for small children. The prosthetics she used further enhanced the strangeness of the imagery, adding to their striking nature.
Although the Fairy Tales were a departure from her earlier work, the series was favorably received. New York Times art critic Andy Grundberg wrote: “They are darker in spirit, more mythic and more monstrous than anything she has conceived before, and they convey—like a surprising number of fairy tales—a nightmarish view of the world. The life-size prints, which stand six feet tall, are large enough to menace the viewer, yet technically they are Miss Sherman’s most inviting work to date” (A. Grundberg, “Cindy Sherman’s Dark Fantasies Evoke a Primitive Past,” The New York Times, October 20, 1985, p. H31).

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