Cindy Sherman b. 1954, Glen Ridge, New Jersey
50 1/16 x 75 1/8 inches (127.2 x 190.8 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director's Council and Executive Committee Members: Edythe Broad, Elaine Terner Cooper, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Harry David, Gail May Engelberg, Nicki Harris, Ronnie Heyman, Dakis Joannou, Barbara Lane, Sondra Mack, Linda Macklowe, Peter Norton, Willem Peppler, Tonino Perna, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, Simonetta Seragnoli, David Teiger, and Elliot K. Wolk, 2002
Since the late 1970s, Cindy Sherman has been engaged in a body of photographic work that confronts the assumptions of various representational formats, from cinema and television to fashion photography to history painting. Her Untitled Film Stills (1977–80) are now canonical. These 69 black-and-white photographs depict the artist posed in various melodramatic guises that recall the stereotypical feminine characters presented in publicity stills for B movies of the 1950s and 1960s. Building on this exploration of artifice and identity, Sherman turned to the tropes of Surrealist photography in her Disasters series (1986–89), which investigates the intersection of the sexual and the grotesque. Untitled, #167 (1986) depicts the scene of a gruesome crime. Emerging from the dirt are the nose, lips, and red-painted fingertips of a blonde, apparently female, victim. A discarded Polaroid photographic sheath suggests documentation—perhaps by a police officer or the perpetrator, whose reflection appears in an open makeup compact—and obliquely implicates the artist as photographic voyeur. This work foreshadows Sherman’s use of prosthetic body parts, as well as the gradual elimination of her own likeness, in her unnerving and sometimes hilarious Sex Pictures (1992). The figure in Untitled, #264 (1992) has an anatomy of pure plastic. Her coquettish pose, that of centerfold pinup, is complicated by the forbidding gas mask she wears. Here, Sherman is no doubt contemplating the artifice, absurdities, and occasional violence of pornography.