Large Cradle

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  • Provenance

    Simon Lee Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010

  • Exhibited

    London, Simon Lee Gallery, Sherrie Levine, May 29 - July 31, 2009 (another example exhibited)
    New York, Paula Cooper Gallery, Sherrie Levine, November 6 - December 15, 2010 (another example exhibited)
    South Hadley, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Conversations (works from the Permanent Collection), August 30, 2013 - June 1, 2014
    London, Simon Lee Gallery, Elective Affinities, July 11 - August 27, 2014 (another example exhibited)
    South Hadley, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, Unlimited: Recent Acquisitions in Honor of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s 140th Anniversary, September 6, 2016 - May 28, 2017

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Sherrie Levine’s Large Cradle, 2009, narrative, history and seduction coalesce in a single, elegant form. Cast in polished bronze, Large Cradle stands as a self-contained object, conjuring reference to a rich history of art historical precedents. Acutely cognizant of the male-dominated field in which she operates, Levine endeavors to subvert this patriarchal authority through works such as Large Cradle. By selecting a decidedly feminine subject and re-contextualizing it through the lens of art historical masters from Van Gogh to Brancusi, and Duchamp to Judd, Levine embraces inspiration drawn from the past, while simultaneously situating herself as a female pioneer of contemporary art theory and practice.

    In Large Cradle, Levine references van Gogh’s celebrated painting La Berceuse from 1889, which depicts a maternal figure seated with a rope in hand. The painting’s title, which translates to “lullaby” or “woman rocking a cradle”, alludes to the unseen cradle, which the artist has deliberately omitted from the picture plane. Levine’s re-appropriation of La Berceuse pays homage to van Gogh’s masterpiece while simultaneously challenging it, making manifest the very object that van Gogh has chosen to exclude. In Large Cradle, Levine invites the viewer to meditate on the iconicity of this feminine, maternal, and even sensual form, and, in doing so, inverts the art historical canon of works by male artists made for male consumption.

    Large Cradle cannot be examined without noting its direct reference to Minimalism, particularly the specific objects created by Donald Judd. In 1965, Judd dramatically changed the course of contemporary sculpture, proclaiming a reductive new approach to art-making. Levine discusses the process by which she came to accept the inevitable inspiration drawn from her male predecessors: “I had the feeling I was reinventing the wheel. There was no way to do it better than the New York Minimalists were doing it. Eventually, I decided to make that a virtue, as opposed to a problem, in my work" (Sherrie Levine, quoted in Constance Lewallen, "Sherrie Levine", Journal of Contemporary Art 6, no. 2, Winter 1993, online). In the present lot, Levine plays with the concept of Judd’s specific object – creating a self-contained sculpture that stands sans pedestal – yet takes a distinctly feminine twist. Thinking beyond the strictly conceptual nature of the object, Levine imbues her works with beauty, reference and narrative, explaining: “I am interested in making a work that has as much aura as its reference…There’s a level of seduction in the work that keeps you...It’s a visceral, sensual seduction that always draws you back. That’s where the hook is. Otherwise it would be an idea...I want it to be an experience" (Sherrie Levine, quoted in Constance Lewallen, "Sherrie Levine", Journal of Contemporary Art 6, no. 2, Winter 1993, online).

    Seductive, feminine and emotionally complex, Large Cradle is a hallmark of Levine’s celebrated oeuvre, which continually circles back to appropriation and her fascination with recontextualizing the readymade object. In his 2011 review of Levine’s retrospective, Mayhem, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, art critic Jerry Saltz highlights the revolutionary nature of her practice: “Imagine it’s 1981. You’re an artist, in love with art, smitten with art history. You’re also a woman, with almost no mentors to look to; art history just isn’t that into you. Any woman approaching art history in the early eighties was attempting to enter an almost foreign country, a restricted and exclusionary domain that spoke a private language. Merely the act of creating art while female, in this atmosphere, was insurrectionary” (Jerry Saltz, “It’s Payback Time”, New York Magazine, November 10, 2011, online). Large Cradle exemplifies the groundbreaking nature of Levine’s pioneering practice– saturated with a feminine aura that is perhaps only achieved by the hand of a female artist, Levine succeeds in inserting herself within the canon of art history with her uniquely charged and challenging artworks.

358

Large Cradle

cast bronze
18 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 23 5/8 in. (47.9 x 100 x 60 cm.)
Executed in 2009, this work is number 5 from an edition of 6 plus 2 artist's proofs.

Estimate
$250,000 - 350,000 

sold for $225,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
rbowling@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 450 Park Avenue