Re-enactments, copies, and tributes by Sherrie Wolf, Brad Adkins, Christopher Rauschenberg and Michelle Ross
Two years ago, I got a phone call from Sherrie Wolf. She thought I might like to know that she had begun a project of copying Gustave Courbet’s 1855 oil painting The Painter’s Studio: Allegory of Seven Years of My Artistic and Moral Life. She planned to paint a full-scale copy of the 12 x 21-foot artwork, a massive undertaking. Perhaps I would be interested in showing it? Who wouldn’t be! Besides the fun of having a giant copy of a major 19th-century masterpiece in the Art Gym, the project brought up the interesting issue of why artists copy other artists.
I decided to show Wolf’s painting Courbet’s Allegory alongside other works by artists who have re-enacted, re-photographed or copied the works of others.
Christopher Rauschenberg’s Eugène Atget project came to mind immediately, as did a series of visual performance re-enactments by Brad Adkins. Then this summer Michelle Ross’s Small Wild Things project came to my attention, for which Ross had invited 18 artists to successively copy a series of 15 of her abstract paintings on paper.
Wolf, Rauschenberg, Adkins, and Ross chose to do these projects for varied reasons, including paying tribute to and learning from artists for whom they have great respect, bringing temporary artworks back into the world and setting experiments in motion in order to witness the results. Their motivations stand in contrast to the intentions of artists like Sherrie Levine who began to copy and appropriate works by other artists in the late 1970s to call attention to and challenge ideas of authorship and originality.
Curated By: Terri Hopkins
On View: November 3 – December 7, 2008