Sherrie Levine

Sherrie Levine ( born April 17, 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania ) is an American photographer and conceptual artist, which is attributed to the Appropriation art movement. There are relatively few biographical data about themselves, as Levine does not want to participate in the " myth-making " in the art world.


Levine grew up in St. Louis and attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There they laid in 1969 with a BA in 1973 and her MFA. As far as known, they then worked for a long time as a photographer and photo designer in the advertising industry. In 1975 she moved to New York City. In the late 1970s they came out with the first artistic work, including with collagen, which were at that time the context of correctness and feminist art strategy Levine's statement after. In 1981, she had then, along with other artists a first acclaimed exhibition: they showed photographs of the famous Depression-era photographs by Walker Evans, directly scanned from art catalogs.

Work and impact

Critics made ​​already at Levine's picture series " After Walker Evans," a commentary on the demise of modern art, a questioning of autonomy and authenticity of the artwork from. Various post-structuralist explanations to the work were submitted, sometimes even by the artist himself The artwork was now in the galleries explicitly in the " Age of Mechanical Reproduction " (Walter Benjamin) arrived; Privateering only a few years after the art market had accepted original prints great photographers as a commodity? Was it a negation of the commodity character in the art world and remaining world? Levine in Review: " My work should never be anything other than goods ". This calms the one hand and also applies: long hanging the works of appropriation art in the museums themselves. On the other hand, one must critically question: is such an open reference to the commodification of art is not offensive, and self-destructive?

Levine: "Often, works of art are so reified by reproduction and awe that goes down its importance in bombast. For works that are particularly light-footed and therefore rebellious originally came, such phenomena then come to a complete irony. "

Little wonder that Sherrie Levine later further formerly provocative moments dedicated to modern art, such as Duchamp's impudent gesture of the urinal presented in the temple of art. Levine showed a reproduction of this "Fountain" in the form of a highly polished bronze.

Levine: "It was always my intention to emphasize the aspect of exaggerated attribution of significance for works of art. "

The artist presented uA in the following years Drawings by de Kooning, Schiele and Malevich, and watercolors by Mondrian, Matisse and El Lissitzky, consistently works of male avant-garde, " Heroic modernists " So.

Levine: "Like most women I am also sorry to be depicted and represent by men. "

The postrukturalistischen phrases around the Appropriation Art are now scattered sparingly than in the 1980s, Levine commented their works now even simpler: " Any reasonably intelligent viewer understands that the image of an image is a very strange thing. Of course, something not please everyone ... I do not do my art in order to prove something or to demonstrate a theory. "

Levine will also no longer - if they ever planned it - abolish the idea of artistic original work, but extend the thanks to " Modern Classic " constricted notions of authenticity and originality again and put up for discussion.

Levine: "I try not to let me tyrannize only. What really interests me is making my relationship to the image. "

In order for the historicity of art is meant also the personal history of reception and appropriation ( state: " Appropriation " ), and also the layers of their placement: Art reaches us today by postcard, calendar printing, the art book, through television or the internet. About commercials and video clips are even people who would never set foot in a museum, in secondary or tertiary contact with artistic originals. This complex reception over multiple meaning and mediation tiers will address the Appropriation -Art. Levine describes very clearly how they appropriated as a teenager in the American province of works of art on reproductions. The already applied to repayment of personal handwriting works of minimalists such as were in the catalog even flatter, more anonymous and therefore even more perfect.

Another aspect of the historicity of the artwork is its origin by many ( and external ) influences to which artists, stimulated by precursor and the environment, give shape. " What would our culture without bonds, adaptations and imitations? " ( Christopher Hitchens ). Besides shaking such a view also to current conceptions of authorship and copyright.

Levine: "I see my work as a frontal assault on the fear of imitative / on the influence of fear. "


  • " Appropriation is a label that makes me shudder. "
  • "People are already uneasy at the question of what I might do next, and that alone gives me a lot of suggestions already. "
  • " Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp operated a variety of infantilism, which is extremely charming. "
  • " My art should be fun, but that does not mean that I do not mean it. "

Constance Lewallen " aura in the sense did Walter Benjamin used the term? "

Sherrie Levine: " Yes. "

Constance Lewallen: " Paradoxically, he said that a work loose its aura Because of duplication. "