Sherrie Levine’s work engages many of the core tenets of postmodern art, in particular challenging notions of originality, authenticity, and identity. Levine rose to prominence as a member of the Pictures Generation, a group of artists based in New York in the late 1970s and 1980s whose work examined the structures of signification underlying mass-circulated images—and, in many cases, directly appropriated these images in order to imbue them with new, critically inflected meaning. Since then, Levine has created a singular and complex body of work in a variety of media (including photography, painting, and sculpture) that often explicitly reproduces artworks and motifs from the Western art-historical canon.
Born in 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Levine studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she received her M.F.A. in 1973. Early solo exhibitions were held at 3 Mercer Street, New York (1977); Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo (1978); and The Kitchen, New York (1979). In 2015, the artist joined David Zwirner. Her inaugural solo exhibition at the gallery in New York was on view the following year. Sherrie Levine: After Reinhardt, on view in 2019 at the gallery’s 34 East 69th Street location in New York, marked the artist’s third solo exhibition with David Zwirner.
In 2011, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York presented MAYHEM, a major exhibition of Levine’s work spanning three decades. The show included one of her most acclaimed series from 1981—a group of twenty-two photographs of reproductions of Walker Evans’s photographs from his Farm Security Administration-commissioned project to document the rural South during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Referencing the loss of uniqueness as a result of mechanical (and digital) reproduction, and ironically using a medium generally held responsible for diminishing the value of the artist’s hand, After Walker Evans: 1–22 emphasizes a description of the pictures in contextual, rather than formal terms.
Levine’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, including at Neues Museum, State Museum for Art and Design in Nuremberg (2016); Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2013); Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (2010); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009 and 1991); and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2007). Other venues include Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (1998); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Menil Collection, Houston (both 1995); Portikus, Frankfurt (1994); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1993); Kunsthalle Zürich (1991); High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (both 1988); and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (1987).
Major group exhibitions include NOT I: Throwing Voices (1500 BCE-2020 CE), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2020); Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2018); Ordinary Pictures, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2016); America Is Hard To See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); Prima Materia, Punta della Dogana, François Pinault Foundation, Venice (2013); The Pictures Generation, 1974–1984, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009); Whitney Biennial (2008, 1989, and 1985); SITE Santa Fe (2004); São Paulo Biennial (1998); Carnegie International (1988); documenta VII (1982); and Pictures, Artists Space, New York (1977).
Work by the artist is held in major international museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Museum of Art, Osaka; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Levine lives and works in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico.