MOCA is pleased to present the first comprehensive survey in the U.S. of the 50-year career of Sturtevant (American, b. 1924, d. 2014). Sturtevant: Double Trouble is organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Peter Eleey, Curator and Associate Director of Exhibitions and Programs, MoMA PS1, with Ingrid Langston, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA. Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, the exhibition offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among work from all periods of her career, including Johns Target with Four Faces (study) (1986) from MOCA’s permanent collection. The exhibition brings together over 40 key artworks in every medium in which Sturtevant worked—including painting, drawing, photography, performance, sculpture, film, and video—and identifies her as a pioneering and pivotal figure in the history of modern and postmodern art.
“Sturtevant and I were very good friends for many years and to me she represents what is most important in contemporary art. Her work is critical, uncompromising, and consistently pushes the envelope,” says MOCA Director Philippe Vergne. “In many ways she was a philosopher who used images to articulate her ideas and who anticipated very early how our culture has come to produce and distribute images.”
The artist began showing under the name “Sturtevant” in a group exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1960. She started making her own versions of the works of her contemporaries in 1964, using some of the most iconic artworks of her generation as a source and catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art. Beginning with her versions of works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Sturtevant initially turned the visual logic of Pop art back on itself, probing uncomfortably at the workings of art history in real time. Yet her chameleon-like embrace of other artists’ art has also led Sturtevant to be largely overlooked in the history of postwar American art. As a woman making versions of work by mostly better-known male artists, she has passed almost unnoticed through the hierarchies of midcentury modernism and postmodernism. Ironically she is at once absent from these histories while nevertheless articulating their structures.
Though her “repetitions” may appear to be simply mimetic exercises in proto-appropriation, Sturtevant is better understood as an artist who adopted style as her medium and took the art of her time as a loose score to be enacted and reinterpreted. Far more than mere copies, her versions of Johns’s flags, Warhol’s flowers, and Joseph Beuys’s fat chair are studies in the action of art that expose aspects of its making, reception, circulation, and canonization. Working primarily in video during her last decade, Sturtevant extended her interest in simulation to the media environment, incorporating footage from Hollywood films, television, and advertising to make literal reference to larger considerations of politics, truth, and violence—concerns that animated her work from its inception.
Sturtevant: Double Trouble is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. curated by Peter Eleey, Curator and Associate Director of Exhibitions and Programs, MoMA PS1
March 20 - July 27, 2015
$12 and FREE every Thursday 5-8pm
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