Tag Archives: Appropriation

Sturtevant: Double Trouble at MOMA

Gonzalez Torres Untitled America
Gonzalez-Torres Untitled America (2004) By Sturtevant (All Photos By Gail)

When Geoffrey and I were at MOMA a week or so ago to see the Matisse Cut Outs exhibit, we accidentally stumbled upon another fantastic exhibit which we’d somehow managed to avoid even knowing about: Double Trouble — featuring the works of the late Pop artist, Sturtevant — which is nearing the end of its run in just a couple of weeks. You should not miss this exhibit if at all possible.

In the likely case that you have no idea who Sturtevant even was, here is a bunch of background information on the artist that I ripped off from her Wikipedia page! Elaine Frances Sturtevant, also known simply as Sturtevant, was an American artist who achieved recognition for her carefully inexact repetitions of other artists’ works that prefigured appropriation.

Duchamp Fresh Widow, 1992 - 2012
Duchamp Fresh Widow, (1992 – 2012)

Sturtevant spent the first years of her life working in New York, where she began in 1965 to manually reproduce paintings and objects created by her contemporaries with results that can immediately be identified with an original. Sturtevant thus turned the concept of originality on its head. All of her works are copies of the works of other artists; none is an original. She initially focused on works by such American artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. Warhol gave Sturtevant one of his silkscreens so she could produce her own versions of his Flowers paintings.

Johns Target with Four Faces (Study) 1986
Johns Target with Four Faces (Study), (1986)

After a Jasper Johns flag painting that was a component of Robert Rauschenberg’s combine Short Circuit was stolen, Rauschenberg commissioned Sturtevant to paint a reproduction, which was subsequently incorporated into the combine.

Elastic Tango (2010)
Elastic Tango (2010), Nine Chanel Video Installation

From the early 1980s she focused on the next generation of artists, including Robert Gober, Anselm Kiefer, Paul McCarthy, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (see first photo in this post). She mastered painting, sculpture, photography and film in order to produce a full range of copies of the works of her chosen artists. In most cases, her decision to start copying an artist happened before those artists achieved broader recognition. Nearly all of the artists she chose to copy are today considered iconic for their time or style. This has given rise to discussions amongst art critics on how it had been possible for Sturtevant to identify those artists at such an early stage.

Kill (2003-2014)
Kill (2003-2014) Digitally Printed Vinyl Wallpaper inspired by the 2003 Quentin Tarrantino Film, Kill Bill

Ethelred II (1961)
Ethelred II (1961), Oil on Canvas with Inside-Out Paint Tube

Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, Double Trouble offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of Sturtevant’s career. Elaine Sturtevant passed away in May of 2014 at the age of 89.

Sturtevant: Double Trouble will be on Exhibit only until February 22nd, 2015 at MOMA, Located at 11 West 53rd Street, NYC.

Sturtevant Double Trouble Signage

John Grande’s Oh You Pretty Things at Jim Kempner Fine Art

Damien Hirst By John Grande
Damien Dot: Portrait of Damien Hirst by John Grande (All Photos By Gail)

Wedged between viewing rad new art by both Lynda Benglis and Herb Alpert, we popped into Jim Kempner on 23rd and 10th during last Thursday’s Art Crawl to check out a very fun exhibit. Taking Appropriation Art to a hilarious new level, painter John Grande presents his new series of portraits depicting pop culture icons superimposed with the distinctive design of Damien Hirst’s famous Spot Paintings. That Hirst himself is honored in the show is pure brilliance. Continue reading John Grande’s Oh You Pretty Things at Jim Kempner Fine Art

Mr. Brainwash Loses Another Copyright Lawsuit

Sid Vicious Brainwash
Dennis Morris’s photograph of Sid Vicious (Left) and Mr Brainwash’s Mural Based on the image

From The Art NewsPaper Dot Com:

The Los Angeles-based street artist Thierry Guetta, better known as Mr Brainwash, has lost a copyright case involving a 1977 photograph of the punk rock musician Sid Vicious shot by the British photographer Dennis Morris. Guetta had claimed that the seven works he created using Morris’s black and white photograph, including one mural and one collage made of broken vinyl records, were sufficiently altered to be protected by the fair use defence, which allows for the use of copyrighted material for commentary, criticism and parody.

The federal judge rejected Guetta’s claim, saying that “most of [the] defendant’s works add certain new elements, but the overall effect of each is not transformative.” The judge also opposed the argument that “appropriation art per se” should be protected by fair use. As we went to press, the terms of the settlement, including unspecified damages, were being determined.

In 2011 Guetta lost a copyright case to Glen Friedman over his use of Friedman’s photograph of the rap group Run DMC, while last year the estate of the photographer Jim Marshall sued Guetta and Google for the unauthorised use of Marshall’s photographs of musicians. This case has not yet been decided and is due to go to trial in July.