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MOVING PICTURES: THE MARKET HISTORY OF AN ’80s ARTWORK

NOW THAT THE MORE iconic images from Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” series, 1977–80, routinely go for six figures at auction, it is perhaps worth recalling that as late as 1988, almost a decade after they first beguiled a young generation of critics and dealers, most of the sixty-nine black-and-white photographs were available for $2,000 to $3,000 at Metro Pictures, the New York gallery that has represented the artist since 1980. Not that prices for Sherman’s seminal images hadn’t climbed over the years; when pictures from the series were first exhibited in New York City, in group shows at Artists Space and The Kitchen, Sherman famously sold the grainy prints for as little as $50.

But even a decade later, major collectors were slow to purchase the plentiful “Stills,” which were issued in editions of three large-format gelatin-silver prints and ten small-format eight-by-tens. A

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