Cindy Sherman – Untitled
(Self Portrait with Sun Tan), 2003

“Cindy Sherman’s work … is intimate and vulnerable. This manifests itself most clearly at the point where she relativizes the ideal image of women in the movies or the mass media. Her photographs do not indulge in the optimistic fantasy of a happy ending – they also display feminine values like doubts and vulnerability, which are not valued positively.”

– Els Barents

For more the forty years, Cindy Sherman has explored the field of self-representation in our image-mediated world through one of the most influential bodies of work in contemporary art. From her early black-and-white Untitled Film Stills (1978-1980) through to her late society portraits, the artist has confronted us with the artifice of self-portraiture long before the selfie made it a reality of people’s daily lives across the globe. 

Untitled (Self-Portrait with Sun Tan) is part of a series of later ‘society portraits’, in which Sherman reimagines herself as an older, well-off woman. Many of these photographs seem to emphasise the artifice of self-representation beyond just the image, as the characters represented here are actually living an idealised version of themselves, putting an extraordinary amount of effort into their clothing, plastic surgery – or, as in the present work, their tan.

Cindy Sherman - Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan) (2003)

Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan), 2003
signed, dated 2003 and numbered 228/350 on the reverse
chromogenic print
image: 65.4 by 40 cm.
sheet: 76.5 by 50.8 cm
Edition number 228 of 350. Published by the Serpentine Gallery, London.

London, Serpentine Gallery, Cindy Sherman, June – August 2003 (edition no. unknown)

This edition is held in the following public collections:
Pérez Art Museum, Miami

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Cindy Sherman’s work is extremely well-represented in Australian public collections, with 18 works across the different museums and including a number of her masterpieces. The series of society portraits was also the subject of her 2016 exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Another version of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled (Self Portrait with Sun Tan) is held in the collection of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami.

“Taking as its subject depictions of older women, society portraits develops several significant earlier themes while introducing new preoccupations and modes of depiction… The mature women portrayed by Sherman are witnessed confronting the issue of their age. Whereas the actresses seem defeated by the impossibility of regaining and projecting a lost sexuality, these society hostesses have adopted a different strategy. Rather than attempting an air of youthful attractiveness, they are preoccupied with their own status and sophistication as the means of preserving personal and social credibility.” – Paul Moorehouse

Read more about Cindy Sherman’s work in Australia here.