11: Cindy Sherman, Untitled #94, 1981
Untitled #94, 1981. chromogenic print 24 x 48 in. (61 x 121.9 cm) Signed, numbered, and dated “Cindy Sherman, 1981, 8/10” on the reverse. This work is number eight from an edition of ten.
PROVENANCE Metro Pictures, New York
EXHIBITED New York, Metro Pictures, Cindy Sherman, November 7 – November 28, 1981 (another example exhibited) Dijon, Déjà vu, Cindy Sherman, October – November, 1982 (another example exhibited) Art Gallery, State University of New York at Stony Brook and Middletown, Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Cindy Sherman, October – December, 1983 (another example exhibited) Saint-Étienne, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Cindy Sherman, December 1983 – January 1984 (another example exhibited) Tokyo, Laforet Museum Harajuku, Cindy Sherman, April – May 1984 (another example exhibited) New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cindy Sherman, July 9 – October 4, 1987 (another example exhibited) Museo de Monterrey, Becher, Mapplethorpe, Sherman, April – June, 1992 (another example exhibited) Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Julião Sarmento and Cindy Sherman, November 1994 – February 1995 (another example exhibited) Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Cindy Sherman: Film Stills, March 15 – June 25, 1995 (another example exhibited) Shiga, Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, July 6 – August 18, 1996; Muragame, Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, September 8 – October 13, 1996; Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, October 26 – December 15, 1996 (another example exhibited) Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, November 2, 1997 – February 1, 1998; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, February 28 – May 31, 1998; Prague, Galerie Rudofinum, June 25 – August 23, 1998; London, Barbican Art Gallery, September 10 – December 13, 1998; Bordeaux, CAPC Musée d’art Contemporain, February 6 – April 25, 1999; Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, June 4 – August 29, 1999; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, October 1, 1999 – January 2, 2000 (another example exhibited) Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections; D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, October 2001 – October 2002 (another example exhibited) New York, Skarstedt Gallery, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds, 1981, May 10 – June 14, 2003 (another example exhibited) Paris, Jeu de Paume, Cindy Sherman, May 16 – September 3, 2006; Kunsthaus Bregenz, November 25, 2006 – January 14, 2007; Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Art, February 9 – May 13, 2007; Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, June 15 – September 10, 2007 (another example exhibited) New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, February 26 – June 11, 2012 (another example exhibited)
LITERATURE Cindy Sherman, Dijon, Déjà vu, 1982, n.p. (another example illustrated) Cindy Sherman, Amsterdam, 1982, pl. 58 (another example illustrated) “Cindy Sherman,” Art Vivant, September 1983, p. 19 (another example illustrated) Cindy Sherman, Saint-Étienne, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, 1983, p. 16 (another example illustrated) P. Schjeldahl and M. Danoff, eds., Cindy Sherman, New York, 1984, no. 58 (another example illustrated P. Schjeldahl and L. Phillips, Cindy Sherman, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1987, pl. 58 (another example illustrated) Becher, Mapplethorpe, Sherman, Museo de Monterrey, 1992, pp. 180 and 244 (another example illustrated) Julião Sarmento and Cindy Sherman, Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, 1994, pp. 4 and 31 (another example illustrated) P. Rosenzweig, Cindy Sherman: Film Stills, Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 1995, n.p. (another example illustrated) Cindy Sherman, Shiga, Museum of Modern Art, 1996, pl. 39, pp. 99 and 180 (another example illustrated) A. Cruz, E. Smith, A. Jones, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, New York, 1997, pl. 77, p. 106 (another example illustrated) Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2001, p. 19 (another example illustrated) L. Phillips, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds, Skarstedt Fine Art, New York, 2003, pp. 26-27 (another example illustrated) R. Durand, Cindy Sherman, Paris, Jeu de Paume, 2006, pp. 96-97 and p. 249 (another example illustrated) E. Respini, Cindy Sherman, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2012, pl. 98, p. 148 (another example illustrated)
I try to get something going with the characters so that they give more information than what you see in terms of wigs and clothes. I’d like people to fantasize about this person’s life or what they’re thinking or what’s inside their head, so I guess that’s like telling a story. CINDY SHERMAN (Cindy Sherman in “Studio: Cindy Sherman,” interview with Betsy Berne, TATE Magazine, Issue 5, May/June, 2003). Cindy Sherman’s illustrious Centerfolds series (1981) was produced over thirty years ago and yet they still manage to captivate and incite intrigue. Arresting in nature, the Centerfolds represent Sherman’s third series, a second foray into color photography following her lauded Untitled Film Still series of the late seventies. Controversial from inception and never published as intended, the Centerfolds were originally conceived as a commissioned project to be printed in ArtForum. Employing a format most commonly recognized in publications featuring pin-ups, horizontally exhibited and seemingly available figures, Sherman’s Centerfolds series subverts the conventional expectations associated with the horizontal format while confronting a larger history of objectification in cultural production. The present lot, Untitled #94, 1981, investigates the coded image as canonical trope. Sherman’s seminal Untitled Film Stills explore codes of representation and the construction of archetypes as perpetuated by the film industry. Similarly, Centerfolds also appropriates cinematic visual codes; exemplified by the present lot in its large horizontal format, the presence of dramatic lighting, quality of color and mise-en-scène. One key element distinguishing the Centerfolds series from the Untitled Film Stills is the composition. The Centerfolds series features Cindy Sherman in multiple guises, predominantly posed reclining, crouched or semi-seated in tightly cropped scenes; the viewer’s perspective is situated slightly above Sherman at an oblique angle or straight on. In this way, Untitled #94 is not only a commentary on the magazine centerfold but arguably a critique on power constructs, the framing of female subjects as objects; inserting itself within the framework of cinema and, to a further extent, the art historical depictions of reclining female nudes. “I wanted to fill this centerfold format, and the reclining figure allows you to do that. I also wanted to comment on the nature of centerfolds, where you see a woman lying there, and then you look at it closer and suddenly realize, Oops, I didn’t mean to invade this private moment. I wanted to make people feel uncomfortable.” (Cindy Sherman in “Cindy Sherman and John Waters: A Conversation,” in Cindy Sherman, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2012, p. 73). While certain Centerfolds evoke cinematic genres or pin-ups more than others, Untitled #94, succeeds in depicting the recumbent artist as a character within a film scene while simultaneously referencing two of art history’s most loaded paintings: Titian’s Venus of Urbino, 1538, and Edouard Manet’s Olympia, 1863. Equally observed in both historical paintings, we find a female nude reclining comfortably against luxurious white cushions and beds draped in fine linen. Both figures appear gazing directly at the viewer and the well-appointed space in which they are situated is mediated to varying degrees by a dark curtain. In both cases, flowers or a floral motif appear clutched in their right hands. In Untitled #94, Sherman appears in a tussled blond wig and minimal make-up; she gazes outside of the frame but not at the viewer, reclining on an orange and green floral-motif blanket visible to her right, a worn wooden floor is revealed beneath her. Sherman’s space, in direct contrast to that of Venus and Olympia, is sparse and the general decadence surrounding the famous nudes is substituted here by modesty. Instead of large white cushions, Sherman is propped against the legs and seat of a white painted Windsor chair. The artist appears fully dressed in modest and somewhat neutral clothing, her space, while also defined by a dark curtain, seems to contain her figure in a manner that offers privacy and confinement. However detailed, the subtlety visible in Sherman’s Untitled #94 is echoed throughout the Centerfolds series and presents a strong contrast to the classism at play in Titian’s Venus, Manet’s Olympia. The Centerfolds series also situates itself as a departure from Sherman’s previous work– Untitled Film Stills, in which Sherman clearly defines her characters socio-economic class within the context of their surroundings. To this end, Sherman’s Untitled #94 negotiates the representation of constructed dichotomies: Venus as the divine goddess and Olympia as the courtesan–equally eroticized. Here, the possibilities of representation are ultimately confronted by the blatant refusal of objectification and decadence; the viewer’s gaze is met with ambiguity. This ambiguity ultimately resonates throughout the Centerfolds series. Here, Sherman is distant and unavailable, her psychological presence outweighs the physical. Untitled #94 conveys a degree of eroticism by virtue of embedded codes; the artist has “developed a way of using codes and techniques from popular culture to tell complex truths, which resonate back to her sources. Hers is an intensely satisfying kind of deconstruction as salvage. She builds new local structures of components scavenged from existing general ones.” (P. Schejeldahl, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds, Skarstedt Fine Art, New York, 2003, p. 36). The notion of deconstruction as salvage underscores the kind of short-circuiting of expectations present in Centerfolds, using coded imagery against itself. It is interesting to note Sherman’s later History Portraits series (1989-90), in which the artist appropriates canonical artworks by old masters by staging herself, wigs, make-up, prosthesis et al, as the central figure in famous European portraits. With this later series in mind, one can certainly thread the subtle art historical references in Untitled #94 to the later exploration of overtly coded material. Sherman’s practice is reliant on the constructed image, creating scenes that invite the viewer’s projection of archetypes. She employs elaborate sets, make-up, costumes and wigs; as such she exposes the myth of the photograph as evidence or as an “index” of the real. Sherman’s work underscores the resonance of the constructed image as an extension of performance. To this we can add that Untitled #94, while not strictly a documentary endeavor, is in fact evidence of Sherman’s performance as a type of character. The narrative constructed by the artist is staged; however, the resulting photograph captures the moment of narrative cohesion– the moment Sherman unveils an expression and a mood that ultimately delves into an aspect of her psychological space. What we witness in the photograph is the event of Sherman conflating fictional and real events; “in each case, the ‘outside’– costume, wig, makeup, props– is a concise set of informational cues for a performance that is interior, the dream of a whole, specific life registering in a bodily and facial expression so right and eloquent– albeit blank, vacant, and absent-minded– as to trigger a shock of deep recognition.” (P. Schejeldahl, Cindy Sherman: Centerfolds, Skarstedt Fine Art, New York, 2003, p. 35).