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Sherrie Levine, Untitled (After Edward Weston, ca. 1925)

Sherrie Levine, Untitled (After Edward Weston, ca. 1925), Type C color print, 19.5 x 14.625 in. (49.2 x 36.89 cm), 1981 Speakers: Dr. Shana Gallagher-Lindsay, Dr. Beth Harris. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.

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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user Emilia Fredrickson
    What makes this different than what someone would do for a art museum exhibit book?
    (3 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user garyf789
      I would say that the difference is intention. A photo in an exhibit catalog is meant for the catalog, not as a work of art. This was made to be its own piece of art. As the commentators say, Levine is a conceptual artist. The piece is meant, at least in part, to make you think about intention and originality.
      (5 votes)
  • leaf grey style avatar for user Edward M. Van Court
    I thought "deriviative" was one of the worst things you could say about a work of art. How is this not derivative?
    (4 votes)
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    • leaf orange style avatar for user Jake Suzuki
      Levine, in a single action, is breaking with the history of art, utterly changing our relationship with her art, the original photo, & art in general. Conceptually, Levine's & Weston's photographs are chalk and cheese, yet Levine simultaneously comments on Weston's work with her own.
      Weston's photograph is about possession, ownership, & a relationship with the predominantly male history of art. In some respects Weston's photo is the more derivative of the two, built as it is on 2000+ years of history.
      By appropriating Weston's photo, Levine is questioning the very authority of art history, of owning & creating artwork. By rephotographing Weston's work, Levine can seem to be asking "even if he does own it, does that matter? If he doesn't, what worth is ownership?"
      It was ground breaking stuff.
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Adam Geary
    The gist of interpretation of her work is the same I learned in school 15years ago. I wonder how flickr, facebook, and file sharing doesnt change the relevance of the work in modern society? It is historically significant in the convo of modern art, appropriation, and iconography. But much like Futurism, an important idea is no substitution for unique aesthetics. How has modern art history reframed the importance of the work in the face of modern societal information sharing
    (3 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user Ken McGovern
    What is Type C Color Print?
    (2 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user paul.litherland
      Type C refers to a "chromogenic" colour print. Using dye coupler technology (dye coupled with a silver halide emulsion ) it is a print made from a colour negative. Light is projected through the negative on to paper with a light sensitive emulsion, ( in the case of colour negative, 3 layers of emulsions, cyan, magenta and yellow) and processed in chemistry to fix or remove the colour layers according to their exposure. The result is a colour photographic print.
      (2 votes)
  • marcimus pink style avatar for user Madeleine Potter
    Is it a painting or a photograph?
    (1 vote)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user Kelson
    Without so-called gender roles, would this photograph make any sense?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf orange style avatar for user Jake Suzuki
      Levine's? Yeah, of course. Regardless of gender, she's still questioning the fundamental value and authority of ownership, and originality. That Levine is a woman only makes that all the more potent by bringing in the added facet of questioning patriarchal influence over art and art history.
      (1 vote)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Rob
    Would this be any less art if the guy was wearing some Fruit of the Looms?
    (1 vote)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user LexieX
    Although the conceptual angle is interesting, I still do not see why appropriation work is not copyright violation?
    (1 vote)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      If this was considered "critique" or "parody", it may fall under the category of fair use: "U.S. fair use factors. Examples of fair use in United States copyright law include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship. Fair use provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor test."
      (1 vote)

Video transcript

(jazzy music) Voiceover: We're talking about a Sherrie Levine photograph which is entitled "Untitled" after Edward Weston. Voiceover: Is this really a photograph by Sherrie Levine? Voiceover: Well, it is. She has done something quite astonishing here. She has rephotographed someone else's work, Edward Weston, the great Modernist. Voiceover: If it's a copy of what someone else did, and there's no original thought involved or thinking through things on her part, then what makes this art? Voiceover: Exactly. That's part of the question that I think that's really what she wants to raise to some degree. She's following in the footsteps, you have to say, of someone like Marcel Duchamp who has already introduced the ready-made in the 19- teens, the idea that, what makes a work of art? Is it necessarily about skill? Is it necessarily about making? Or is it about creativity? Or can it also be just about choice? Voiceover: Except that Dechamp sort of said, well, it's not about skill, but he did kind of shift it over to the conceptual; that it was still about choices and ideas. What's the idea here? Voiceover: I think she really is, in many ways, a conceptual artist. She's thinking of hey, well ... This is a photograph of Weston's son, Neil. He is doing something, really flexing his creative muscles here. First of all, he's created the boy. This is his boy. Voiceover: His son. Voiceover: His son, right. So then he's going to use his son as sort of a raw material for his own photograph. Voiceover: He creates him twice. Voiceover: Exactly. For Weston, this is really an image that's in part about possession. He is the master of all things in this image. On the other hand, he's also borrowing, a good degree, from the whole history of the nude, the Classical nude. From this series, some of these look very, very similar to Donatello's young David, for example. He's also inserting himself in, ensconcing himself very much in a tradition. Voiceover: There's a whole kind of Modernist thing going on for Weston; a kind of male artist inserting himself into tradition. It's sort of in this kind of heroic moment of originality and contribution and creativity. Then Sherrie Levine comes along as a woman and copies it. Voiceover: She feels also, I think, very much outside of that tradition. Voiceover: As a woman. Voiceover: As a woman, yeah. A lot of artists, male or female, feel like everything's already been done before and deal with that anxiety. Voiceover: I think our students feel that way a lot. Voiceover: I'm sure they do. I know sometimes when I write I feel that way. Voiceover: Me too! Voiceover: So it's a natural feeling. She takes that by the horns, ultimately, and sort of wrestles it to the ground and ends up doing something that no one had ever done before. Her rephotographing as someone else's photograph was something that no one had ever done before. Important writers had written that photographers had always failed to reproduce exactly another person's photograph, and here she does it, and she does it in a way that seems very simple to us, but in a way it was also something that was ultimately very creative. Voiceover: Does she do it in a particular way? Is she particularly faithful to the original? Voiceover: She does not crop the image. Unless you really are a connoisseur of prints, it would be very hard for you to tell the difference between her photograph and the original. A lot of times she might just photograph out of a catalog rather than standing in front of the actual thing. Voiceover: She also photographed works of other artists, not just photographers. Voiceover: Exactly; and recreates things from paintings into sculpture. It's very much about being influenced and being in the zone of influence. Voiceover: Actually, we live in a world where so little is original anyway. Maybe that's the whole point too. Everything is mass created. Everything is multiples. Voiceover: It's an essential truth. Voiceover: Where is the original anymore? Voiceover: Right. (jazzy music)