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Sherrie Levine

(b. 1947)


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(1947– )

American artist, born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Her work is based on the practice of appropriation. The most celebrated examples are her photographs After Walker Evans (1981), photographic replicas of the work of one of America's most important photographers, copied from exhibition catalogues. This project has been seen as an attack on the idea of originality and authorship in art. Some of the photographs Levine uses are those Evans made to document rural poverty in the South during the 1930s. When Levine's versions were shown at the International Center of Photography in 2008 their website pointed out that ‘Evans may be the photographer of these works but not the singular author of the social and cultural phenomenon that engendered them.’ As nobody has yet suggested that Walker Evans was single-handedly responsible for engineering the Great Depression, this is not a very startling statement. After the photographic work, Levine made painted copies of work by early abstractionists such as Mondrian (White on White, 1984) and Lissitsky. She theorized this work from a feminist angle. ‘What I was doing was making explicit how this Oedipal Relationship artists have with artists of the past (i.e. wanting to kill them) gets repressed: and how I, as a woman, was only allowed to represent male desire.’ She has also made paintings consisting of wood panels with the knot holes picked out in gold paint (Large Gold Knot 2, 1987). She has said: ‘They are about death in a way; the uneasy death of Modernism.’

Subjects: Art.


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