Art History, After Sherrie Levine

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9780520267220: Art History, After Sherrie Levine

This book examines the career of New York-based artist Sherrie Levine, whose 1981 series of photographs after Walker Evans” taken not from life but from Evans’s famous depression-era documents of rural Alabama became central examples in theorizing postmodernism in the visual arts in the 1980s. For the first in-depth examination of Levine, Howard Singerman surveys a wide variety of sources, both historical and theoretical, to assess an artist whose work was understood from the outset to challenge both the label artist” and the idea of oeuvre and who has over the past three decades crafted a significant oeuvre of her own. Singerman addresses Levine’s work after Evans, Brancusi, Malevich, and others as an experimental art historical practice material reenactments of the way the work of art history is always doubled in and structured by language, and of the ways the art itself resists.

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From the Inside Flap:

Howard Singerman’s new volume is truly groundbreaking for reasons that might at first seem counter-intuitive in their common sense: he smartly sets artistic production of the 1980s in context, looking at artworks in parallel with intellectual dialogues of the time in order to show how each was deeply enmeshed in the other and then he radically expands his art-historical frame. Taking up the work of one remarkable artist, Sherrie Levine, in light of art-historical precedents set by, among many others, Constantin Brancusi and Marcel Duchamp, Singerman traces what would seem to be (but are not) incorrigible lines of medium-specificity and conceptual strategy through the decades. Singerman proves that postmodernism does not necessarily enact the break we’ve been told it does (so much as make possible other, transformed, iterations of longstanding discourses in art) while simultaneously offering readers a new entry into debates of the last thirty years. When it comes to revising our understanding of twentieth-century and contemporary art, Singerman’s groundbreaking project is, indeed, art history, but only as it can be written after Sherrie Levine.”

Johanna Burton, editor of Cindy Sherman
Howard Singerman presents a solid overview not only of the career of the contemporary artist Sherrie Levine, but also of what came to be known as postmodernism in the late 1970s and 1980s. Singerman mobilizes a broad range of sources, moving back and forth comfortably between discursive and historical ground on the one hand, and theoretical speculation on the other. Art History, After Sherrie Levine answers many questions about American art of the late twentieth century. Rich in detail and challenging in ideas, it is a pleasure to read.”

Alexander Alberro, author of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity

About the Author:

Howard Singerman is Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the University of Virginia and is the author of Art Subjects: Making Artists in the American University (UC Press).

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