Sherrie Levine


Sherrie Levine first became known, and is still probably best known, for her appropriation pieces of the early eighties. In the most straightforward of these, she would take photographs of photographs by great photographers, title them simply After Walker Evans, or After Elliot Porter, and present them as her own work. Since the "original" works were photographic, since they shared both image and material with Levine's "Afters," there was no immediately perceptible difference apart from the accompanying label. (For Meltdown, the computer worked not from the actual paintings but from four Levine photographs of 1983: After Marcel Duchamp, After Piet Mondrian, After Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and After Claude Monet.} These works were heralded as the definitive attack on—or mockery of—the modernist cult of "originality." So definitive, so lucid did they seem on this point, that the issue of what constitutes originality and whether it is a necessary component of art seemed dead in the water. --Susan Tallman, ARTS Magazine, April 1990, http://www.artnotart.com/sherrielevine/arts.04.90.html [Dec 2004]

Specialized knowledge

One of the most common complaints about the art world—about museums, galleries, and especially about contemporary artists—is that they have to depend too much on specialized knowledge, knowledge out of the reach of the casual observer. In this country in particular, with its faith in the autodidactic, any works or exhibitions not immediately accessible or self-explanatory are likely to inspire charges of elitism or, conversely, lack of quality. While historically it is true that the enjoyment of good art has always required some degree of cultivation, the question remains open: how much background knowledge is (or should be) necessary to appreciate a work of art? --Susan Tallman, ARTS Magazine, April 1990, http://www.artnotart.com/sherrielevine/arts.04.90.html [Dec 2004]

Appropriation [...]

Appropriation is a term the art world has become quite familiar with in the past century. Some artists cut-and-paste, some take images from other artists and alter or use fractions of them in their own work, and some just borrow ideas. Who owns the image? How much of an original idea does the artist really own? With the trend of appropriation catching on, many artists, their practices, and the ideals of art have come into question. In this WebQuest, you will help decide the fate of Sherrie Levine, a contemporary artist known for appropriating other artists' works, and perhaps, of appropriation itself! --http://www.artjunction.org/projects/levine_on_trial/levine_webquest.html [Dec 2004]

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