Style and careerEdit
Much of Levine's work is in the form of a very direct version of re-photography. A larger category of re-photography and collage is the impulse of artists using this kind of appropriation as its own focus — someone who pulls from the works of others and the worlds they depict to create their own work. Appropriation art became popular in the late 70’s although its tendency can be traced from the early Modernist works specifically using collage. Other appropriation artists such as Louise Lawler, Vikky Alexander, Barbara Kruger and Mike Bidlo all came into prominence in New York’s East Village in the 1980s. The importance of appropriation art in contemporary culture lay in its ability to fuse broad cultural images as a whole and place them toward narrower signs of personal interpretation.
Levine is best known for the work shown in "After Walker Evans", her 1980 solo exhibition at the Metro Pictures Gallery. The works consist of famous Walker Evans photographs, rephotographed by Levine out of an Evans exhibition catalog, and then presented as Levine's artwork with no manipulation of the images. The Evans photographs—made famous by his book project Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, with writings by James Agee—are widely considered to be the quintessential photographic record of the rural American poor during the great depression. The Estate of Walker Evans saw it as copyright infringement, and acquired Levine's works to prohibit their sale.
Levine showed with Baskerville & Watson Gallery, New York, in the early 1980s and later began working with Mary Boone in 1987. At this time, she is now represented by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and Simon Lee Gallery, London. In November, 2011, the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City mounted a survey exhibition of Levine's career entitled "Mayhem."
Other examples of Levine's art includes photographs of Van Gogh paintings from a book of his work; watercolor paintings based directly on work by Fernand Léger; pieces of plywood with their plugged knotholes painted bright, solid colors; and her 1991 Fountain, a bronze urinal, modeled after Marcel Duchamp's 1917 Fountain.
Sherrie Levine: Mayhem, mounted at the Whitney Museum of Art from November 2011 through January 2012, is a meticulously ordered installation, ranging from Levine's best-known photographs of photographs to her more recentCrystal Skull series (2010).