Cindy Sherman radically changed Contemporary Art

by Joseph K. Levene  

Cindy Sherman Retrospective The Museum of Modern Art, New York
    Cindy Sherman Retrospective The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Credit Cindy Sherman for changing the definition of contemporary art. For decades, contemporary art collectors, galleries and auction houses viewed photography as if it was "not as important" as contemporary painting and sculpture.

Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96 1981, from the Centerfold series of 12 images, commissioned by Artforum, sold for $3.895 million in May 2011 at Christie's New York, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold; it held that record until November 2011.

Photographs by Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman started her classic Untitled Film Stills series in 1977; she dressed herself in other people's lives and clothes, and documented the result. They seemed to make every woman the typecast star of her own film. Since then, Sherman has photographed herself in female roles from a rotting corpse to a Renaissance queen.

While Cindy Sherman has photographed herself in a variety of roles, including a young ingenue; centerfold portraits, history portraits; society women and even clowns, the photographs are not self-portraits.

Cindy Sherman Untitled #425 2004
 Cindy Sherman Untitled #425, 2004
Cindy Sherman has created some of the most fascinating, provocative, and at times, amusing photographs of the last 35 years, exploring and subverting images of women in cultures high and low, and always acts as her own stylist.

Cindy Sherman reflects to Ingrid Sischy, “I’m more posing than I’m acting.” And the pose here is spot-on. In 1979, Sherman was driving across the country with her folks, and when she spotted this potential picture, she got them to stop the car.

Thinking fast, she pulled her costume and wig out of her suitcase, in the trunk; her dad pressed the shutter, and voilĂ ! One of the most unforgettable, iconic and coveted American images of the 20th century.

Cindy Sherman Film Still #48, 1979 Silver Gelatin Print
Cindy Sherman Film Still #48, 1979 Silver Gelatin Print
According to Ingrid Sischy, Cindy Sherman still has the skirt and the suitcase among her props in the studio.
Cindy Sherman Photograph She Calls A "Sketch"
                               Cindy Sherman Photograph She Calls A "Sketch"

Cindy Sherman In A Rare Pose, not in character
                             Cindy Sherman  in rare pose, not in character

Christie's will auction an iconic Cindy Sherman photograph, “Untitled #96”, also titled “Orange Sweater,” on May 8, 2012. Estimated at $2.8 - $3.8 million, the Cindy Sherman 1981 Centerfold, from an edition of 10, will most likely exceed the $4.3 million record price paid last fall for Andreas Gursky's Rhine photograph.

Cindy Sherman Untitled #98 Centerfold expected to fetch $4 million
                                 Cindy Sherman Untitled #98 Centerfold expected to fetch $4 million
Another impression of Cindy Sherman's "Orange Sweater" 1981, also from the edition of 10, fetched $3.9 million at Christie's, and at the time, achieved both a record price for the Artist and was the highest price ever paid for a photograph until a Gursky photograph achieved $4.3 million.

Cindy Sherman Untitled #193, 1989
Cindy Sherman Untitled #193, 1989
The progression of Sherman’s work happened organically. She explains, “One series turned into another series, and from that I got another idea for the next series.”

It was only a matter of time before Sherman took on history portraits as an homage to western art, particularly the European tradition. She did not do it in a calculated or scholarly way—more like feasting from the buffet.
Cindy Sherman Photography on Pinterest curated by Joseph K. Levene Fine Art, Ltd. 

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