Sherrie Levine is a feminist and postmodern, American artist. She is a photographer, painter, and artist, part of the Pictures Generation, which includes Sarah Charlesworth, Laurie Simmons, and others. A neo-conceptualist photographer, Levine reproduces or copies art works of glorified twentieth-century male artists to attack traditional art history, that has long ignored or undervalued the works of female artists. She said, “I felt angry at being excluded. As a woman, I felt there was not room for me. . . . The whole art system was geared to celebrating . . . . male desire.”
Levine studied at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, earning her M.F.A. in 1973. She had early solo exhibitions in New York City and Buffalo, New York. She lives and works in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She is best known for her reproductions of modernist artworks, mainstays from Western art history. Her 1981 “After Walker Evans” is a group of twenty-two photographs, that she rephotographed from Evans’ original 1930s images, which documented the Great Depression. Because of legal issues, she gave the entire series to his estate. It now resides in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
She has also worked in bronze appropriating Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 work into her own “Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)” 1991. To dismiss these works as mere copies would be a mistake. Levine’s projects are examinations of the very meaning of originality and ownership. By appropriating images by men associated with innovation, Levine is suggesting that all art and thought are derivative.
Her photographs were exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. In 2011, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented “MAYHEM,” an exhibition of her work done over three decades. It included her “After Walker Evans” series. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows worldwide in dozens of museums.
Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Menil Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery in London, and others.