I try to make art which celebrates doubt and uncertainty. Which provokes answers but doesn’t give them. Which withholds absolute meaning by incorporating parasite meanings. Which suspends meaning while perpetually dispatching you toward interpretation, urging you beyond dogmatism, beyond doctrine, beyond ideology, beyond authority.–Sherrie Levine
Since the early 1980s, Sherrie Levine has made a career out of re-using–or appropriating–famous works of art, often by making new versions of them and placing them in different contexts. Throughout her career, Levine has created art based on works by prominent male artists from the early 20th century in order to underscore the relative absence of women in the art world at that time. Her sources have included Walker Evans’ photographs and Constantin Brancusi’s sculptures. Levine’s piece, entitled Fountain (after Marcel Duchamp: A. P.), is inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917).
When Levine’s Fountain is compared with Duchamp’s sculpture, it is apparent that it is not an exact copy. Most notably, Duchamp’s piece was an actual urinal, turned upside-down and unaltered except for his signature. He believed he could transform such mass-produced, everyday objects into artworks merely by proclaiming them so, and called them “readymades.” In contrast, Levine’s sculpture is a contemporary urinal cast in the sculptor’s traditional precious metal, bronze. Polished to a brilliant shine, this piece is no longer a common, store-bought item; it has been transformed by the artist into a unique object.