This sculpture by Sherrie Levine, entitled Fountain (after Marcel Duchamp: A.P.)
is inspired by Marcel Duchamp's Fountain
Since the early 1980s, 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. In addition to Duchamp, her sources include Walker Evans' photographs and Constantin Brancusi's sculptures.
What's so special about a copy of a famous work of art? If you compare Levine's Fountain with Duchamp's sculpture, you'll notice that it's 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. He called these works "readymades." In contrast, Levine's Fountain is a contemporary urinal cast in a precious metal--bronze, the traditional material for casting sculpture. Polished to a brilliant shine, this work is no longer a common, store-bought object but something quite unique. Levine's Fountain is placed at the entrance to the permanent collection exhibition galleries as a hint at the changes that have taken place in art over our century. Moreover, this sculpture shows that today's artistic innovations continue to be built on the achievements of the past.
Sherrie Levine talks about her work
"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."