What is Sherman saying about women by turning herself into inflated matrons, infinitely reproducible ingénues, Palm Beach gargoyles, wannabe glamour girls, fashion victims, fashion perpetrators? In interviews, she is as warm as anyone but as blank as Andy Warhol’s stare. She once told Betsy Berne: “The work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit.” […]
Anticipating an age in which the publicity photo is the only sort of photo there is, Sherman hit upon a pure idea at a young age and has developed it, sometimes more fruitfully than others, ever since. The issue of her supposed “real self” brings reality into question in very many ways, few half as annoying as this self-reflexive sentence. She is a subject and an object, an artist and an art critic perennially reviewing her own self-image. Some retrospectives leave you with the feeling that, OK, you’ve figured out who this artist is and what she’s about, and you tuck her away for a little while. But you cannot get Cindy Sherman’s number. You see the “real” her either always or never. A great American trickster, this photographer managed to steal her own soul and hide it away in every frame.
Artinfo offers a little market background:
In November 2010, a print from her “Fairy Tales” series, “Untitled #153,” 1985, in which she lies mud-smeared and seemingly expired in the grass — the only print in an edition of six not held by a major museum — met its ambitious $2 million to $3 million estimate with a winning bid of $2.7 million at Phillips de Pury in the Philippe Ségalot-orchestrated “Carte Blanche” sale. Six months later, “Untitled,” 1981, from the “Centerfolds” series, showing Sherman as a sweatered coed sprawled on the floor (est. $1.5-2 million), soared to $3,890,500 at Christie’s New York, a record for any photograph at auction at the time. […]
Starting with the “Fairy Tales,” Sherman began printing her color works in editions of six, with few exceptions. The earlier, rare-to-market “Centerfolds” — only 12 prints in editions of 10 were produced — remain the most expensive, with the “History Portraits” and the mid-2000s “Clowns” earning from the mid-six figures up to $3 million. Beyond these, however, there are several opportunities at lower price points. For example, an early “Bus Rider,” “Untitled #372,” from the 2000 printing, fetched 17,080 ($22,700) at Villa Grisebach in Berlin in November. Series previously dismissed as difficult, such as the “Sex Pictures” of 1992, featuring plastic genitalia and made at the height of the AIDS epidemic, have not fared well in the marketplace and occupy a lower price stratum.
Nussbaum points to high-concept fashion images, which Sherman has returned to periodically over her career, as undervalued. One of these, “Untitled #282,” 1993, featuring the artist as a Gaultier-clad Medusa figure, reached a mid-estimate $818,500 at Sotheby’s New York in November.
Cindy Sherman’s Knees (Slate)
Artist Dossier: Cindy Sherman (Artinfo)