David Zwirner is pleased to present work by American artist Sherrie Levine at the gallery's Hong Kong location. The exhibition will showcase several bodies of work that are central to Levine's practice, and that distinctly engage the artist's ongoing inquiry into notions of authorship, originality, and authenticity.
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 that often explicitly reproduces artworks and motifs from the Western art-historical canon as well as non-Western cultures.
On view for the first time will be Hong Kong Dominoes: 1–12 (2017), a suite of twelve paintings on mahogany that replicate the surface of a group of dominoes that Levine purchased on a trip to Hong Kong in 2012. In the mid-1980s, the artist began painting 'generic abstractions'—composed of stripes, checks, or chevrons—by applying paint on wood; these works are evocative of minimalist painting and sculpture from the 1960s and 1970s as well as the surfaces of game boards such as chess or backgammon. Here, she extends the logic of this seminal body of work by playing on the object quality of the original dominoes.
A number of works in the exhibition make reference to modernist masterworks, questioning the stereotypical construct of the heroic male artist. In a group of twenty-two never-before-seen After Henri Matisse drawings from 1985 from the artist's own collection, Levine re-presents a sequence of floating, masklike faces in Matisse's characteristic style. Likewise, in Monochromes After Renoir Nudes (2016), Levine has created abstract restatements of twenty of the impressionist painter's celebrated nudes, making use of pixelation to consolidate the range of tones in each painting into a single, truly monochromatic value. These works revisit a technique first employed by Levine in her 1989 group of woodcut prints Meltdown, in which an averaging algorithm was used to create a checkerboard composition based on modernist artists' iconic paintings.
After Feininger: 1–11 (2021) makes use of the work of Bauhaus-trained photographer Andreas Feininger (1906–1999)—son of painter Lyonel Feininger—and relates to Levine's ongoing practice of photographing reproductions of artworks, begun in the early 1980s. Though most known as a LIFE magazine photographer, Feininger was employed by the American Office of War Information, created as a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, and travelled across the United States in 1942 documenting wartime industries. Here, a series of vividly coloured images depict mining and construction efforts set against vast and unassuming landscapes.
Brazilian Ex Voto Figure: 1 (2019) is part of an ongoing group of sculptures cast from wooden originals once used for ritualistic purposes. By appropriating an object from outside the Western art-historical canon, Levine indirectly references one of the primary influences of modernist artists in the early twentieth century, who were drawn to so-called exotic art for its formal, aesthetic qualities. Her choice of bronze reinforces the contrasting function that her copies embody vis-à-vis the originals, which are effectively transformed from artefacts to works of art. It is presented alongside the cast-bronze sculpture Hobby Horse (2014), a literal translation of the French 'Dada,' in which Levine wryly conflates this lay meaning with the iconic art movement.
This will be the artist's fourth solo exhibition with David Zwirner, and her first at the gallery's Hong Kong location. On the occasion of the exhibition, a new publication on the artist's work is forthcoming from David Zwirner Books and will be available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions.
Born in 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Sherrie Levine studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she received her MFA 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 emphasises 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, 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 (1995); The Menil Collection, Houston (1995); Portikus, Frankfurt (1994); Philadelphia Museum of Art (1993); Kunsthalle Zürich (1991); High Museum of Art, Atlanta (1988); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (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; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; 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, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Levine lives and works in New York.
Press release courtesy David Zwirner.