Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)
Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)
Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)
Cindy Sherman (B. 1954)


Lot 6
Cindy Sherman (American, B. 1954)

Untitled Film Still #39, 1979
gelatin silver print
Signed, dated and numbered by artist in pencil on reverse, signature, “1979” and “1/10 Edition 1 of 10
Image: 9 1 ⁄2 x 6 inches
Sheet: 10 x 8 inches

This print is inventoried by Metro Pictures Gallery under MP#CS-39.

LOT SOLD: $191,000

Cindy Sherman is recognized worldwide as one of the most significant and influential artists working today. Her photographs have been exhibited globally in major museums for decades and demand for her work is at an all-time high. While Sherman herself is featured in almost all of her photographs, she is certainly not the subject. As Simon Hattenstone astutely notes during an interview of Sherman, written for the Guardian in 2011, “Few artists embraced their contradictions so easily. She took photos of herself that were anything but self-portraits; photos that stuck two fingers at the then received wisdom that the camera never lies – her camera always lied. And, through her deceits, she looked for truths about identity, vulnerability and power.”

Sherman was born in a small town in New Jersey in 1954, and is part of the first generations of Americans to be raised by television. This is most apparent in her now iconic series of 69 black and white Untitled Film Stills which includes the present image, Untitled Film Still #39. Produced between 1977 and 1980, the complete portfolio creates a complex study of cliché images from sources such as art history, television, magazines and movies that reveals gender as a fabricated and constantly changing perception. Consequently, roles played in the Untitled Film Stills include “actresses” from foreign film, B-movies and film noir variety actresses. The range is broad: from a stereotypical mid-century American housewife to a sensual temptress. The Untitled Film Still series is often referred to as her most defining work and significantly propelled her ascent in the contemporary art world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has showcased the series, which they own in its entirety, twice since 1995. Importantly, though her work is conceived through process of photography, she has never considered herself merely a photographer. The medium serves as an instrument with which to convey her artistic message. The power of her work lies in the fact that the various personae leads the viewer to reflect upon her or his own “anima.” Sherman states that “I’m trying to make other people recognize something of themselves rather than me.”

In the present lot, we see Sherman as a seductress. Despite the realistic nature and familiarity of Untitled Film Still #39, this work, like others from the series, is only a staged reality. She wrote “…to pick a character like that was about my own ambivalence about sexuality–growing up with the women role models that I had, and a lot of them in films, that were like that character, and yet you were supposed to be a good girl.” (from G. Howell, “Anatomy of An Artist,” Art Papers 19, no. 4 (July/August 1995) p. 7).

Like most of her early photographs Sherman did not sign or inscribe the present work with an edition number at the time it was produced. Untitled Film Still #39 was donated directly by Sherman to CAPS (Creative Artists Program Service) in 1979, when she was still beginning her career. The CAPS program supported emerging and established New York City artists from 1970-1980 (primarily moving film artists).

On July 10, 2014, at Metro Pictures in New York City. Cindy Sherman signed, dated and wrote the edition number (1/10) on verso of this photograph. Keno Auctions would like to thank Tom Heman, Gallery Director, Metro Pictures and Cindy Sherman for their kind assistance with this lot.

Donated by the artist to CAPS (Creative Artists Program Services), 1979;
Donated by CAPS to the Herkimer County College Foundation later that same year, 1979.


A. C. Danto, Untitled Film Stills, Cindy Sherman, Munich 1990, no. 26 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 67).
R. Krauss, Cindy Sherman 1975-1993, New York 1993 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 56).
D. Frankel, The Complete Untitled Film Stills, Cindy Sherman, New York 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 115).

Exhibitions which have included editions of Untitled Film Still #39:
Washington, D. C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Cindy Sherman: Film Stills, 1995 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, unpaged).
Hamburg, Deichtorhallen, Cindy Sherman: Photoarbeiten 1975-1995, 1995-1996, no. 18 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Malmö, Malmö Konsthall and Lucerne, Kunstmuseum.
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Cindy Sherman, 1996-1997, no. 20 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, p. 59). This exhibition later travelled to Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Bilbao, Sala de Exposiciones Rekalde and Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Film Stills, 1997 (another from the edition exhibited).
Paris, Jeu de Paume, Cindy Sherman, 2006 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Bregenz, Kunsthaus Bregenz; Humlebaek, Lousiana Museum of Modern Art and Berlin, Martin Gropius-Bau.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, 2012, no. 54 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, p. 111). This exhibition later travelled to San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center and Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art.

Condition: In July 2014 this photograph was expertly conserved by Peter Mustardo and his associates at the Better Image Inc. A full report of their findings and treatment is available upon request.