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Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills Hardcover – October 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sherman's provocative and much-discussed Untitled Film Stills series, created between 1977 and 1980, is collected for the first time in this 9.5" x 11.25" volume from MoMA, which purchased the entire set of 69 shots in 1995. Sherman's mysterious and perplexing "portraits" should not really be called "self," since Sherman appears solely in the guises of others, donning the clothing, wigs and makeup of various female '50s and '60s film "types" (the forgotten wife, the boozy hussy, the working girl, etc.) and elevating the art of playing dress-up to a whole new level. In her disarmingly honest introduction to the book, Sherman says of the European film stars like Simone Signoret, Sophia Loren or Jeanne Moreau, from whom she drew her inspiration, "What I was interested in was when they were almost expressionless," a rare occurrence in posed and artificial publicity shots. But while Sherman's photographs may initially resemble film stills, their grainy, dodgy quality (Sherman says, "I didn't care much about the print quality; the photographs were supposed to look like they cost fifty cents"); her disturbingly blank expression and chameleon-like ability to disappear into character; and the backgrounds of empty New York City streets and rundown lofts (in some ways, the photos act as a historical archive of a time when a less-gentrified New York functioned as a giant playground for artists) all conspire to give necessary dissonance to the myths Sherman explores. Sherman began making the series at the age of 23, and it soon established her as a major voice in the contemporary art scene, adding a much-needed female presence in what is more often than not a hyper-macho field. In the process of questioning the portrayal of women, Sherman questioned the art of portraiture itself and its uneasy place in 20th-century American society, opening a different path on which to proceed.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (October 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870705075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870705076
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 10.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Chris Kitze on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first glance, you might see ordinary, banal photos that resemble out takes from studio stills. Look deeper and you will see works of genius that expose a new way of seeing and exploring the inner self that have been highly influential in the art world. This book has the images that started it all for Cindy Sherman and for that reason, you should start with this book if you want to learn about this artist.

Who will like this book? I think just about anyone with an interest in art or photography would consider this a "must have" book for their personal library. Nothing in this book would embarrass you if you gave it as a gift; it is edgy, but not to the point of weirdness. I just gave a copy to my 10-year-old daughter for inspiration and she really enjoyed it (though probably not at the level of an adult). If you are willing to look, this book will reward you.

Like any great artist, she makes it look easy. Her singular vision is apparent in the location selection, "set" design, makeup and costuming. If you have ever tried to do this yourself, you will respect what she has accomplished. The end result is that Ms. Sherman reveals what she wants us to believe are her innermost thoughts and emotions. Like great cinema, these photos achieve true suspension of disbelief and challenge the viewer's own framework of emotional identity. In the end, we believe.

Arguably, these are the best work ever done by Ms. Sherman. One complaint about her newer work is that it seems to continue to retread the same themes and variations. Sure, her newest works are bigger and colorful in keeping with the latest trends in photography -- personally, my favorites are the images in this book. There is a freshness I don't find in her later work. But this human story, like her imagery, will always continue to be explored by artists as long as there are humans to explore.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rae on May 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Cindy Sherman's work is inspiring. She's deadly serious about not being serious. This book is a great collection of her Untitled Film Stills collection, which happen to be my favorites in her body of work. Great introductory to her art.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Plourde on December 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have to vehemently disagree with the previous review. Art is not all about perfection of technique. Technique helps, but point of view is always more important. Take, for example, Sebastio Salgado's third world portraits - super grainy, not technically perfect, but beautiful. Sherman has created a series of portraits lampooning as film stills that are lighthearted in idea, but in reality are often melancholy and full of life. The content is what's important here, not technique. If you want technically perfect photographs and don't care if there's interesting content, go look at some Ansel Adams landscapes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Grochowski on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a GREAT book. The pages are large and sturdy and show off her artwork well. A huge plus is the introduction written by Sherman...it gives you an inside look at some of the stories behind and the inspirations to some of the photographs. The book features a variety of her work through time. It is arranged very well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Buffy on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book along with the "Centerfolds" hardcover exhibition book provide the essential Cindy Sherman images. The film stills presented here are all in black and white, and her next project "Centerfolds" were all in color. Taken together you get the complete picture on Cindy Sherman.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm writing in late 2013. About 1-2 years ago The New Yorker critic (w/ whom I often agree) wrote a piece on Cindy Sherman that was mostly laudatory but dismissive of the film stills as immature and the least important part of her oeuvre and he implied that everyone who's anyone knows that. (That's not a direct quote but it captures the gist). My jaw dropped and I was like Excuse me??? I penned a nastyish letter to The New Yorker which they declined to print. Anyway, my point is this and I think it's sort of important: Great artists have to start somewhere, folks. Van Gogh did not hit a homerun every time. In my view the film stills are incredibly important. (And apparently MOMA agrees w/ me on that.) Why? These are her breakthrough. It's all here. In one volume. I'm inelegantly stating this, I know: The film stills are an important start to an important career.
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By Alondra Jara on September 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The packaging was immaculate and had fantastic glossy cover. Almost like new! And the photos looked as great as I imagined they would!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chuck on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you'd like a collection of all of Cindy Sherman's film stills series, here they are. Perhaps the work she is best known for, you either like them or don't. The more of her other photography I've looked at, the better I like the film stills, not sure if that is because of a better understanding of her or something else.
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