Collectors have become quite taken with photographer Cindy Sherman over the years, especially after her black & white Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1980, which established Sherman as a chameleon who paid homage to such genres as Italian neo-realism and film noir. Her photos have a strange knowingness about them, while the artist seems to disappear into the conceptual portrait.
On Wednesday evening, Christie's held a whopper of an auction, selling over $300 million in art, including work by Warhol, Rothko, and Bacon. Sherman was one of five artists setting records that night, as her 1981 color coupler print, Untitled #96, sold to N.Y. dealer Philippe Segalot for $3,890,500, becoming the world's most expensive photograph ever sold at auction, topping previous record-holder Andreas Gursky's 99 Cent II, which had sold for $3,346,456. Sherman's picture features the artist reclining on a tile floor, looking vaguely like a young Meryl Streep, with a crumpled personal ad in her hand.
That's a lot of scratch for one photograph. But the funny thing is, there will almost surely be another snap that comes along before too long that surpasses the Sherman record. Because those art collectors are a competitive lot. Sherman often gets pigeonholed as a feminist artist, but she wouldn't exactly describe herself as that. She once said, "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 about feminist stuff."