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Zack Hatfield on Sturtevant – Artforum Worldwide

Zack Hatfield on Sturtevant – Artforum Worldwide

Zack Hatfield on Sturtevant - Artforum International

I’ve nothing new to say about Sturtevant. This feels nearly becoming, given the artist’s personal vexed relationship to newness. Her completely imperfected “repetitions” of different artists’ artwork, ignored for many years, have lately impressed an avalanche of interpretation, a lot of it excellent and none of it capable of pierce the rattling thriller of her work’s origin and abiding prescience. As if cautioning potential reviewers, the press launch for an exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery—her first solo present in New York since her Museum of Trendy Artwork retrospective in 2017, the yr she died, aged eighty-nine—publicized the well-known record she wrote of every part her work isn’t. But, by no means a mere train in negation, her profound gesture registers at the moment as an affirmative drive in a world too desirous to consider that artwork is now not doable, that life is a lie, and that every part that may occur already has.

Warhol Flowers, 1990, greeted guests to the present, and hearkened again to Sturtevant’s very beginnings. In 1964, she requested Andy Warhol for the silk display screen he used to make his “Flowers” sequence, then nonetheless recent; he gamely obliged. Having fun with newfound standing because the “mom of appropriation” after years of self-imposed exile, Sturtevant reprised his blossoms, this time eschewing their garish apple greens and scorching pinks for extra nocturnal hues, a lot as she traded the Byzantine gold of his Marilyns for a palette of ash. With its dark-violet blooms bobbing towards a floor of obsidian grass, Warhol Flowers advertises the limitless, rupturing repetitions underpinning the true and the Actual. It felt barely heartbreaking to see these beloved hibiscus petals tipped absolutely into the abyss that Andy solely hinted at. And regardless of Sturtevant’s insistence on the “energy of thought,” her work additionally augurs a time—ours—the place feeling is the best fact.

Sturtevant’s “Warhol” glistened throughout from Duchamp Man Ray Portrait, 1967, her model of the great {photograph}, ca. 1924, depicting the Frenchman’s hair soaped into the form of the winged helmet of Mercury. Duchamp’s spirit carried into the principle room, which contained renditions of Jasper Johns’s 1957 Grey Numbers portray, a Keith Haring Mickey Mouse tag, a Robert Gober sculpture, and Sturtevant’s 2010 video collaging inventory footage from web libraries and titled, merely, Simulacra. These first three works weren’t solely afforded their very own wall however have been struck by spotlights, as if to dare every of them to maintain their aura/anti-aura. Gober Partially Buried Sinks, 1997, repeats a sculpture made ten years prior comprising a pair of an identical sinks with two unseeing holes-for-eyes—the place the taps ought to go—half “buried” in a big, sensible strip of Astroturf spanning the size of the gallery. Gober painstakingly made his Duchampian fountains-cum-tombstones by hand in the course of the top of the AIDS disaster, devising them as meta-metaphors for the “impossibility” of cleanliness whereas additionally riffing on Robert Smithson’s Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970, itself a makeshift monument to the victims of the Kent State bloodbath, which occurred 4 months after Smithson created the work on campus. Gober sought to reinvest the vocabularies of Minimalism and the readymade with human pathos, creating objects that dwell in uncertainty between the “uselessness” of artwork and the reparative energy of mourning. In doubling his sinks, Sturtevant doubled and deepened their questions, too, like what’s the distinction between similarity and distinction, how does artifice reveal actuality, and what does it imply to make use of one other artist’s uselessness?

It’s been identified that Sturtevant’s work—lengthy misconstrued as copies, fakes, mockeries, and appropriations—can not often be credibly handed off as that of different artists. Certainly, the meltingly elegant brushwork of Johns’s Grey Numbers is absent from Sturtevant’s Johns Grey Numbers, 1991, whose encaustic scarcely covers the newsprint base; Haring Tag July 15 1981, 1985, lacks, amongst different qualities, the unlawful frisson of early Haring graffiti. “I’m not saying anybody can do it,” she as soon as wrote. She was saying, maybe, that nobody can. Trying to retrace the deep contextures of thought, feeling, and destiny that facilitate the making of recognizable artworks, she ended up along with her personal distinctive signature, one thing not not like a reminiscence: invisible, increasing, unrepeatable.

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