Monday, April 6, 2015

Sherrie Levine | Black Newborn

Sherrie Levine
Black Newborn, 1994
14 x 19.7 x 15.2 cm.
Cast and sandblasted glass.
Edition of 12 (+ 3 AP)

In a Phillips 2009 auction this work almost doubled the high estimate (of between $40,000 - 60,000) and sold for $110, 500.

"The work of Sherrie Levine is rich in art historical reference with her use of image appropriation. By recycling imagery of another artist, Levine creates at once a work existing as an extension of familial relationships and as a fresh, new piece in itself. Black Newborn is a prime example with reference to Constantin Brancusi’s early twentieth century sculpture, Newborn, 1915, made in whitemarble.As an authorized reproduction of the Brancusi work, Black Newborn critiques issues of artistic authenticity and originality.

Although immediately referencing Brancusi, Black Newborn discusses the legacy of twentieth century French artist Marcel Duchamp as well. As originator of the readymade sculpture, Duchamp declared pre-fabricated objects as works of art. Levine further develops the scope of Duchampian thought by limiting her readymade objects to those already existing within the realm of art.  By placing herself literally in Modern art, Levine’s works acknowledge themselves as products of the preceding course of history. As evidenced by the present lot, Black Newborn, Levine’s works act simultaneously as art and art critique. Levine addresses her use of Brancusi’s work:

"Constanin Brancusi held a modernist belief that primal innocence and formal simplicity were linked. From 1909 until 1933 he employed the oval form again and again, captivated by its cosmological flavor – simultaneously suggesting the fragility of an egg and an infant’s head. My favorite of these sculptures is Newborn, the image of a bawling child, its mouth wide open, suggesting the shock of birth…Speaking of my work, I often paraphrase the words of Roland Barthes: I try to make art which celebrates doubt and uncertainty. Which provokes answers but doesn’t give them. Which withholds absolute meaning by incorporating parasite meanings. Which suspends meaning while perpetually dispatching you toward interpretation, urging you beyond dogmatism, beyond doctrine, beyond ideology, beyond authority."

-A.Temkin, Sherrie Levine Newborn, NewYork, 1993, pp. 7-9

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