Sherrie Levine

(1947) American


Born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in 1947, the postmodernist artist Sherrie Levine received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1969, and an M.F.A. from the same institution four years later. Originally trained as a painter and printmaker, Levine first worked with collage, and some of these were included by curator-critic Douglas Crimp in the now-famous exhibition Pictures, held in 1977 at Artists Space in New York. Around 1980, Levine began re-photographing photographs by canonical male modernist photographers, among them Edward Weston, Walker Evans, and Alexander Rodchenko. In 1981 she had her first solo exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery in New York, in which she exhibited her series Untitled, After Walker Evans, presenting photographs of reproductions of Evans’s photographs taken during the Depression for the FSA. Because the images were presented as Levine’s own works of art, the show was both a scandal and a success in the New York art scene. It became a landmark of postmodernism, both praised and attacked as a rebellious feminist intervention in the rigid construction of the photography canon and a critique of the commodification of art. Because of these re-photographic projects, Levine became part of the Pictures generation, a group of artists working both materially and theoretically with appropriation techniques. Levine prefers to view her work as a regenerative act of collaboration, transforming the considered extraordinary masterpiece into something organic and continually renewable. In the following decades, her practices broadened materially to the technique of casting with metal and glass, but also painting, printing, paper-making, and installation art. From November 2011 through January 2012, the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted the exhibition Sherrie Levine: Mayhem, a retrospective of her work from the past thirty years, including her best-known photographs of photographs to her more recent Crystal Skull series (2010).
Renske van Leeuwen
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