Sherman's work, with its references to cinematic stills, fashion shoots, and painting, signals the vitality of a new photographic tradition—one that has profoundly affected the vocabulary of contemporary art. In her fashion photographs, such as Untitled #123, Sherman has created the antithesis of a seductive high-fashion veneer. Her first series, commissioned by shop owner Diane Benson in 1983 for a spread in Interview magazine, was followed by pictures for designer Dorothée Bis for French Vogue in 1984 and editorial work for Harper's Bazaar in 1993, among other projects. In these pictures the artist introduces mock grotesqueries, such as false teeth, exaggerated makeup, and unflattering poses, to dent the desirability of the product by emphasizing its contrived look. Just as her Untitled Film Stills (1977–80) probed cliché-ridden female characters filched from 1950s B movies—the ingenue, the chic starlet, the flirtatious librarian—Untitled #123 parodies the mannerisms of codified female beauty championed in fashion ads by mimicking their appeal.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 46.