The Cradle

Create your first list.

A way to share and manage lots.

  • Provenance

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

  • Exhibited

    London, Simon Lee Gallery, Sherrie Levine, May 29 - July 31, 2009
    London, Simon Lee Gallery, Elective Affinities, July 11 - August 27, 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I think it's the auratic quality that's built into [a work of art]. There's a level of seduction in the work that keeps you . . . It's a visceral, sensual seduction that always draws you back.” Sherrie Levine, 1993

    Sherrie Levine's The Cradle, 2009 explores the artist’s long term fascination with strategic re-contextualization of the readymade object. The Cradle, 2009 references Van Gogh’s painting La Berceuse from 1889, which magnificently depicts Augustine Roulin, the wife of the postmaster of Arles, holding a rope attached to a cradle positioned just outside the frame of the painting. Van Gogh chooses very specifically to illustrate this beautiful, maternal moment, only subtly alluding to the baby and cradle rocking quietly to the side. Levine in her glistening rendition of The Cradle, chooses instead to reverse the focus, crafting a physically stunning interpretation of the object while only alluding to the subject Van Gogh’s painting. She deftly collapses function and originality into a graceful, minimalist, form. As curator Johanna Burton has observed, “Levine not only re-emphasizes the importance of a certain work, art-maker, or the ethos of a particular moment, but also reveals beliefs and biases that might not have been readily apparent before. Formally elegant and even sensual, Levine’s work presents an alternative story, or stories, delivering a deep disruption to canons and conventions.” (Johanna Burton, Sherrie Levine, MAYHEM, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012)

    Levine’s series of cast bronze sculptures began with Levine’s Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp) of 1991. As Levine explains, “when I first cast the urinal in high polished bronze, I really didn't know what to expect. When I got the first one back, I was totally amazed at the reference to Brancusi and Arp.” This translation of the original object into something simultaneously wholly original and grounded in, indeed made up of, something already extant, exposed a particular aura within Levine’s work. Interestingly, Walter Benjamin first identified the “aura” of a particularly resonant art object, but also claimed that replication, duplication, destroyed this aura. However, Levine, in her translation of the original object, imbues her works such as The Cradle with her own aura. “For me the tension between the reference and the new work doesn't really exist unless the new work has an auratic presence of its own. 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 as opposed to . . . I want it to be an experience.” (Sherrie Levine in conversation with Constance Lewallen, Journal of Contemporary Art)

    Levine evinces the sensuality of her forms through her intervention and reconsideration of the art historical cannon – works often by male artists for male consumption. The intellectualism of her art is not diminished but rather heightened by the intense attention she pays to the surface and structure of her works. The Cradle, 2009 though referencing a painting by a male artist, depicts a form pregnant with feminine allusion – a beautiful, elegant and technically precise empty cradle, a sensual object left undepicted by Van Gogh. Levine’s “history making” objects, cast in bronze call to mind a religious relic of veneration. In so doing, Levine “creates visually and emotionally complex artworks that evoke a profound sense of pathos.” (Adam Weinberg, Sherrie Levine, MAYHEM, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012, p. 8)

Ο ◆27

The Cradle

cast bronze
18 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 23 5/8 in. (48 x 100 x 60 cm)
This work is number 5 from an edition of 6 plus 1 artist's proof.

$500,000 - 700,000 

sold for $461,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 May 2016