About This Artwork
Part of Sherman’s fashion pictures series, Untitled #122 was inspired by the actress Frances Farmer. The previous year, 1982, Jessica Lange performed as the actress in the film Frances, the sensationalized fictional account of Farmer’s life, spanning from her high school years in the 1930s through her short film career and institutionalization for mental illness in the 1940s to her alleged involuntary lobotomy. This work simultaneously calls attention to high fashion of the 1980s, the dramatization of Hollywood fame and celebrity, and the demonization of assertive behavior by women. Wearing a long black coat fitted with large shoulder pads, the figure stands slightly hunched over, fists clenched. Her unruly blonde hair covers most of her face, with a single furrowed brow and bloodshot blue eye glaring through. The harsh lighting from above beats down on the woman, casting a shadow below and behind her as she defiantly gazes up. She reads at once as inhibited and as filled with rage nearing a climactic breaking point.