Sherrie Levine - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Margo Leavin Gallery, Sherrie Levine, November 13 – December 21, 1996; Osaka, The National Museum of Art Tokyo, Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and The 20th Century Art, November 3 – December 19, 2004 (another example exhibited); Yokohama Museum of Art, Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and The 20th Century Art, January 5 – March 21, 2005 (another example exhibited); London, Barbican Art Gallery, Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, March 6 – May 18, 2008 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    K. McKenna, “Sherrie Levine,” Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1996, p. 16 (illustrated); F. Naumann, Apropos of Marcel: the art of making art after Duchamp in the age of mechanical reproduction, New York, 1999, p. 28 (illustrated); M. Larking, “Art Stripped Bare by Mass Produced Ideas,” The Japan Times, Tokyo, December 8, 2004; J. Hammond, “Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and the 20th Century Art,” Tokyo Metropolis, 2004; C. Darwent, “Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art,” The Independent, London March 16, 2008, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Buddha, is Sherrie Levine’s homage to Marcel Duchamp’s most famous readymade, Fountain, a porcelain urinal he entered in an exhibition in 1917. Fountain is perhaps one of the most seminal works in the 20th century, and a predecessor of Levine’s oeuvre of appropriating existing artwork. However, Levine’s take on the urinal is not a simple replica honoring Duchamp’s piece, but with its luscious shining surface it deliberately accentuates the sensual qualities that Duchamp denied in his own work.The title, Buddha, is itself a reference to the shape of a Buddha statue that the urinal resembles, though Duchamp claims that any visual beauty or figuration was not the point.
    "The “new thought” that Levine creates for this particular object is strangely hostile. Suddenly glitzy, Levine’s tricked-out fetish militates against the whole concept of the anti-retinal. Slyly, it insinuates its predecessor’s failure, for even in Duchamp’s own time, against his protestations, aficionados admired the piece’s sinuous curves and uninflected surface. In the end, I think of the tradition of bronzing a cherished pair of baby shoes. Levine gets to play Mommy, and in the process, infantalize the man who, after all, was only too happy to show up in drag when the occasion warranted," (S. Kandel, Sherrie Levine, Geneva, 1998, pp. 47 – 51).
    Indeed, the unabashed visual beauty in Sherrie Levine’s present lot has been interpreted as a feminist inroad to themale canon of art history. “In a number of interviews, Levine claimed that in arranging for the bronze surface of her urinals to be highly polished, she was making a conscious allusion to the sculpture of Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi. Others have claimed that this gesture results in a more pronounced feminist reading of the work. [Duchamp’s] allusions to masculine genitalia and bodily fluids are feminized by Levine, wrote one critic, as the ultra-reflectivity of the surface enhances the curvaceous ‘hips’ of the shape, which was interpreted as Levine’s boldest usurpation of the male artist’s position,” (F. Naumann, Apropos of Marcel: the art of making art after Duchamp in the age of mechanical reproduction, NewYork, 1999, p. 30).


Fountain (Buddha)

Cast bronze.
12 1/4 x 17 x 16 in. (31 x 43.2 x 40.6 cm).
Initialed “SL” and numbered of six on the bottom. This work is from an edition of six.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $446,500

Contemporary Art Part I

14 May 2009, 7pm
New York