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Untitled #108. 1984

In the 1980s and 1990s—decades characterized in the United States by politically charged debates about censorship in the arts and the specter of AIDS—Sherman’s investigation of macabre and grotesque narratives led to the physical disintegration of the body in her work and her eventual disappearance from the pictures. This gallery features photographs from several series exploring these themes, including the series known as the fairy tales (1985), disasters (1986–89), and sex pictures (1992), underscoring Sherman’s preoccupation with horror and the abject throughout the years. These theatrical pictures revel in their own artificiality, often featuring dolls and prosthetic parts as stand-ins for the human body. The figure appears as an animal-human hybrid, as neither male nor female, or as barely human. Outlandish and revolting tableaus feature rotting food and substances that look like blood, feces, and vomit. Equally repulsive and seductive, these visually rich landscapes of decay are painterly in texture and color. Violated and hybrid bodies found their full expression in Sherman’s 1992 sex pictures, for which she arranged dolls bought from medical-supply catalogues to simulate sex acts and mimic scenes from pornography.

Untitled #175. 1987

In the 1980s and 1990s—decades characterized in the United States by politically charged debates about censorship in the arts and the specter of AIDS—Sherman’s investigation of macabre and grotesque narratives led to the physical disintegration of the body in her work and her eventual disappearance from the pictures. This gallery features photographs from several series exploring these themes, including the series known as the fairy tales (1985), disasters (1986–89), and sex pictures (1992), underscoring Sherman’s preoccupation with horror and the abject throughout the years. These theatrical pictures revel in their own artificiality, often featuring dolls and prosthetic parts as stand-ins for the human body. The figure appears as an animal-human hybrid, as neither male nor female, or as barely human. Outlandish and revolting tableaus feature rotting food and substances that look like blood, feces, and vomit. Equally repulsive and seductive, these visually rich landscapes of decay are painterly in texture and color. Violated and hybrid bodies found their full expression in Sherman’s 1992 sex pictures, for which she arranged dolls bought from medical-supply catalogues to simulate sex acts and mimic scenes from pornography.

Untitled #250. 1992

Chromogenic color print, 49 3/8 x 6' 2 1/2" (125.5 x 189.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Dannheisser Foundation. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #175. 1987

Chromogenic color print, 46 7/8 x 71 1/2" (119.1 x 181.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Gift of The Foundation To-Life, Inc. in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #177. 1987

Chromogenic color print, 43 5/16" x 6' 1 1/4" (110 x 186.1 cm). The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #190. 1989

Two chromogenic color prints, each 48 1/4" x 6' 1" (122.6 x 185.4 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #191. 1989

Chromogenic color print, 7' 6" x 50" (228.6 x 152.4 cm). Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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Untitled #263. 1992

Chromogenic color print, 40 x 60" (101.6 x 152.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Family of Man Fund. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

Glenn Lowry (Director, MoMA)
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Untitled #173. 1986

Chromogenic color print, 60" x 7' 6" (152.4 x 228.6 cm). Collection Per Skarstedt. © 2012 Cindy Sherman

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