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A Dialogue Through Objects, Images & Ideas


«Man Ray : n. m. synonyme de Joie, Jouer, Jouir» Marcel Duchamp

C’est un réel bonheur de participer à la concrétisation de cette exposition à Knokke-le-Zoute. Ma première venue à Knokke remonte à la
grande exposition de Max Ernst qui fut organisée au Casino. Parmi les convives le grand collectionneur, le Baron Bertie Urvater avait émis
le souhait que Man Ray et Juliette soient présents pour l’événement. Hélas, Man Ray était à cette époque occupé par la préparation de sa
première rétrospective présentée au Musée Boijmans Van Beuningen en Hollande puis au Musée National d’Art Moderne de Paris. Néan-
moins son attachement à la culture belge était certain, notamment par le biais de sa première épouse, Adon (Donna) Lacroix qui était une
INTRODUCTION by Marion Meyer poétesse issue de Belgique.
President of the International Man Ray Association
C’est donc avec beaucoup d’amitié que je souhaite un très bon accueil à cette exposition sur le sol belge.
En contemplant les œuvres, n’oublions pas que Man Ray était un homme de « 360° de liberté » !


I celebrate this exhibition in Knokke-le-Zoute with a great deal of pleasure. It brings back memories of the first time I’d been in Knokke, on
the occasion of the Max Ernst exhibition held at the Casino. The Baron Bertie Urvater, a great collector and one of the honored guests sug-
gested that Man Ray and Juliette should certainly be there. Unfortunately it was impossible as Man Ray was at that very time busy preparing
his first retrospective in Holland, at the Musée Boijmans Van Beuningen, later to travel to the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
However, his attachment to the Belgian culture was obvious, since his first wife Adon (Donna) Lacroix, was a Belgian poetess.

Therefore with great happiness I welcome this exhibition held in Belgium.

While looking at the art works, we will remember that Man Ray was for 100% total liberty !

Marion Meyer
President of the International Man Ray Association
A Dialogue Through Objects, Images & Ideas

In 1918,
Man Ray scandalized the art world when he created his first “…isn’t it amazing that some painters still persist, a century
readymade sculptures: an egg beater and an assemblage of after the invention of photography, in doing what a Kodak can
metal light reflectors and clothes pins, which he presented do faster and better?”1

as photographs entitled Man and Woman. In 2005 Sherrie

Levine re-photographed Man Ray’s Man and Woman pho- Forty years later, when minimal abstract art dominated the
tos, called them her own art works, and re-scandalized the art world, Sherrie Levine “began to use photography as a way
art world of a new millennium. At the beginning of the 20th of introducing representational imagery” back into art. Man

century, as a vocabulary of abstraction was being developed, Ray’s career was drawing to a close just as Levine’s career
Man Ray produced a new order of images using the new me- was beginning, but a lively dialogue between this Man (Ray)
dium of photography, and challenged the world to accept and Woman (Levine) exists through the sensibilities they
them as art. share in their relationships with objects, images, and ideas.

ESSAY by Larry List

Guest Curator

Sherrie Levine
After Man Ray: Man and Woman, 2005
Iris print (2 parts)
2 x 48,3 x 33 cm
Edition of 12

The dialogue between Man Ray and Sherrie Levine was Though separated by decades, both Man Ray and Sherrie
sparked by chance or, literally, La Fortune, the 1938 oil Levine had a thorough early education in the latest mechani-
painting by Man Ray that Levine “had seen a million times at cal and technological means of image-making.
the Whitney.” When she saw the painting again, by chance in
Los Angeles in the traveling Perpetual Motif: the Art of Man Born in Philadelphia in 1890 and raised in Brooklyn, Man Ray
Ray exhibition, and yet again in Philadelphia in 1989, she mastered technical rendering, mechanical drawing and cya-
thought, "wouldn't it be incredible to build this table?" 3
notype blue-printing while at Boy’s High School in Brooklyn
(1904 -1908). His ability to render enabled him to make his
“This table” was a drastically narrowed, elongated carom bil- ideas “real,” long before he had the means to produce them.
liards table ramping up at a precipitous diagonal from the His mechanical drawing skills gave him the power to draw
foreground of Man Ray’s painting. It was supported by only plans for his ideas accurately enough to have them fabricat-
one visible ornately-turned bulbous, yet spindly, wooden leg. ed by others.
Set against a grisaille seaside background with a sky full of
brightly colored clouds, Man Ray pictured this deluxe billiards While working in advertising and for McGraw Hill Book Compa-
table as the intersection of “la fortune” – wealth, fortune, luck, ny from 1912 through 1918 he learned cartographic drafting,
and chance. Like his art, it was a creative game at which one photo-mechanical reproduction, air brush, and printing pro-
played, but like chess, it was a game of skill, demanding deep cesses. He taught himself still photography and filmmaking.
rational thinking and complex spatial calculations, with suc-
cess depending on creative solutions. Colored the same green With his embrace of the Dada machine aesthetic, Man Ray
baize as casino tables, it also suggested that even careful made the machine a subject of his art, and made machines
strategy was still subject to a stroke of luck or chance. central to his art-making processes.

Perhaps aware of artist Donald Judd’s observation that “ac-

tual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than
paint on a flat surface,” Levine transmuted the image from

Man Ray’s small easel painting into a life-size object existing Man Ray
Early Unrealized Chess Piece Profiles, Rendering (Flatheaded Knight), 1914 - 1920
in the uncanny valley midway between traditional sculpture

Graphite on paper. 21 X 39 cm © Man Ray Trust

and everyday life. While Man Ray made his table too long,
too narrow, and too tall, Levine did the opposite, making her
1990 edition of six La Fortune (After Man Ray: 1 - 6) tables
identically too short, both in length and height. Just as the
late Kirk Varnedoe had once described Jasper Johns’ encaus-
tic paintings as “Duchampian gestures executed in the style
of Cezanne,” Levine presented her whole edition of six ta-

bles in 1999 at the San Francisco Museum of Art in a single

straight row, as if executing the Minimalist serial gesture of

Donald Judd’s Untitled (Six boxes) of 1974 but in a Surreal


style. From this ambitious initial exercise Levine realized she

had found in Man Ray a lively co-conspirator with whom to
collaborate across the generations.

Sherrie Levine
La Fortune (after Man Ray), 1990
Felt, mahogany, resin
Each: 83.8 x 279.4 x 152.4 cm
Edition of 6 and 1 AP.
Installation view,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1991 © Sherrie Levine
Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Man Ray
La Fortune, 1938
Oil on linen
60.2 × 73.2 cm
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Purchase, Man Ray. Early Unrealized Chess Piece Profiles, (Flatheaded Knight), 1914 - 1920
with funds from the Simon Foundation, Inc. Unique contact printed line drawing on commercial cyanotype (blueprint) paper - 23,5 X 39 cm
Accession number: 72.129 © Man Ray Trust MRT21719.17 © Man Ray Trust
Sherrie Levine was born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania in 1947
and grew up in Saint Louis. As an undergraduate and grad-
uate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1965
- 1973), she majored in printmaking.

At that time, Wisconsin had the most technologically ad-

vanced graphics program in the United States. She was ex-
posed to papermaking, bookbinding, letterpress and offset
lithographic printing, B &W photography, and use of a commer-
cial copy camera to make photo negatives and positives for
use in photo-lithography, photo-silkscreen and photo-etching.
Like Man Ray, she too, did commercial art work early in her
career. From school and work she grew familiar with both

the processes and the idea that any “artwork” – a drawing,

painting, color illustration, or object, could readily be altered,
re-photographed, re-sized and converted to many different
print media for final display. ”I was really interested in how

they dealt with the idea of originality. If they wanted an im-

age, they’d just take it. It was never an issue of morality; it
was always an issue of utility. There was no sense that imag-
es belonged to anybody; all images were in the public domain
and as an artist I found that very liberating.” 11

Seeing the natural, commonplace ebb and flow of images

from one medium to another led each artist, to work in a wide
variety of media: painting, drawing, prints, photography, and
sculpture and to regard themselves simply as “artists” not
identified with any one medium or tradition.


1962 Silver Chess Set and Table, 1962-1966
Silver-plated and patinated cast bronze pieces with enamel
This potential for images or objects to be transmuted from and gilt inlaid board, on exotic hardwood table with storage
one form to another led Man Ray, along with his closest artist drawers for 32 chess pieces
collaborator, Marcel Duchamp, to introduce the objects and 60,3 x 141,6 x 9,8 cm
images associated with the game of chess as a new realm of Edition of 5
© Man Ray Trust
subjects for art, equal to the figure, still-life, or landscape.

Further, they considered game-playing to be a performa-

tive art form. Duchamp devoted a decade of his life (1923
– 1933) almost completely to this conceptual, perfomative
expression, while throughout his career Man Ray produced
dozens of advanced Modernist chess sets, each of which he
regarded as a “whole unit, a work of art… a sculpture of many
parts,” and explicitly demanded that they be displayed on

their boards or in the presentation cases he carefully com-

posed and designed. 13

He made sets ranging in size from 5 to almost 27cm high

and experimented with affordable editions in wood, plas-
tics, and aluminum as well as deluxe designs executed in
exotic woods, bronze, ivory, silver and gold. In every instance
though, he succeeded in producing designs that were both
pleasing to the eye and to the touch.
Sherrie Levine
Large Check : 7-12, 1999
Duo oil on oak
51,4 x 16,5 x 1,9 cm each
Still not yet fully understood and appreciated are the beau- Man Ray
tiful mechanical drawings Man Ray made of his designs. He 1962 Chess Set Design Profiles 4445. “Jeu d’Echecs Dessin 4445”
Circa 1960 – 1962
regarded them as finished art works expressing his machine Ink and graphite on paper
aesthetic. Many made during WW II, when good paper was 3 sheets joined with tape
scarce, have the relic-like look of Leonardo DaVinci’s sketch- 20.3 x 68.5 cm
book drawings of fantastic machines. © Man Ray Trust

With the same intensity he devoted to composing a portrait,

still-life, or Rayogram, Man Ray took dozens of photos of his
chess sets arrayed on chess boards, just as his friend Con-
stantin Brancusi photographed arrangements of his sculp-
tures in his studio.

Man Ray’s numerous photos of people playing chess were

intended to document their cerebral creative collaborations,
just as photographs were later used as a form of documen-
tation by the conceptual and performance artists of the late
1960s and the 1970s.

Like Man Ray, Levine felt “…it’s more useful to think of

art-making as play rather than work. Fantasies of aggression
and control have an interesting place there. I think that’s one
of the reasons that I’ve been so attracted to games as sub-
ject matter.”

Man Ray
1943 Series I Wood Chess Set and Board on Wood-grain Circular Tabletop, 1943
One of the six gelatin silver prints, three mounted
10,1 x 16,4 cm
© Man Ray Trust
Man Ray
1943 – 47 Chess Piece Profiles, 1943-47
Vintage gelatin silver print of a drawing
25,8 x 20,2 cm
© Man Ray Trust

Man Ray
1926 Silver Chess Set on Board
with White Circular Tabletop, 1940-45
One of the five silver prints, three mounted
11,7 x 16,5 cm
© Man Ray Trust

Man Ray
1946 Wood Chess Set
on Board and Table, 1947 Man Ray Man Ray
One of the six silver prints, three mounted 1946 Chess Piece Profiles, Circa 1943-47 Chess Set Design with Shaded Profiles, 1946-59
Vintage gelatin silver print Red & black pencil on paper Black & red ink and pencil on paper
5,7 x 10 cm A: 22,1 x 30,4 cm - B: 23,6 x 30,4 cm 27,1 x 34,5 cm
© Man Ray Trust MRT 21719.16 © Man Ray Trust MRT21719.14 © Man Ray Trust

Man Ray also participated with a wider group of avant garde

artists in the transmutation of ethnographic artifacts from
Africa, the Americas and the Pacific cultures into the vocab-
ulary of Modernist images and forms. He made many pho-
tos of these ethnographic artifacts for himself and collectors
Paul Guillaume, Carl Kjersmeier and Nancy Cunard, among
others. He posed them in isolation offset by shadows, but

also in provocative visual counterpoint with European figure

models, most famously his Noir et Banche, 1926, in which
his model Kiki echoed the form and posture of Brancusi’s
1910 sculpture Sleeping Muse.

Sherrie Levine once said that she liked to “…think of art-mak-

ing as a game… [that] you can control in a way that you can’t
control your daily life.” Starting with her After Walker Ev-

ans: 1 -22 series of 1981 and other drawn and painted se-
ries of Modernist subjects, she embarked on the ambitious
“art-making game”. Her goal was to introduce entirety of
Modernist art and Modernist-adapted ethnographic imagery
into the purview of Post-Modernist subject matter.

She continued in this vein with her After Edward Curtis series Sherrie Levine
of 2005, her polished bronze casts of face and body masks After Edward Curtis, 2005
Giclee inkjet prints
(2007-2014), and her African Masks After Walker Evans: 5 x 48 x 33 cm
1 -24 series of 2014. While Man Ray most often pictured Edition of 12
freestanding figural artifacts, Levine, in her ethnographic
subjects, drawn from Walker Evans’ images, has focused on
masks, either worn by their makers or in isolation.

Levine and Man Ray also each share a personal interest in

costumes, disguises, masks and maskenfreiheit, the free-
dom conferred by wearing masks. They each collected and

made masks and costumes and photographed themselves,

models, and friends wearing them. 18

Sherrie Levine
Lega Mask, 2010
Cast bronze
33.7 x 20.3 x8.3 cm
Edition of 12
Man Ray Man Ray
Ady with Bangwa Queen Sculpture, 1934 Simone Kahn, Ca 1927
Vintage gelatin silver print Vintage gelatin silver print
28,8 x 20,9 cm 8,2 x 5,9 cm
Unique work © Man Ray Trust Unique work © Man Ray Trust
Sherrie Levine
African Masks After Walker Evans: 1 - 24, 2014
Giclee inkjet prints (images sizes vary)
24 x 48,3 x 33 cm
Edition of 12
FIGURATION & GRIDS Cézanne, of his landscapes paintings built of blunt, chiseled
EROTIC SUBJECTS & SENSUOUS MATERIALS prismatic brushstrokes, Levine generated the doubled effect
of a grid-within-a-grid. With a digital pixel averaging algorithm,
In order to lend greater visual weight and impact to her series she broke down each grid square of Monet’s and Cezanne’s
of relatively small-scale images (scaled to the size of their images to its one average color and digitally "stitched" it to-
color plate reproductions in art books, or actual “found” post- gether with its surrounding squares.
cards) such as After da Vinci (2013), Levine often presents
them identically framed and arrayed in grids - usurping the
Levine arrived at a figural image embedded almost imper-
format that the Minimalists had painstakingly emptied of all ceptibly in an abstract color grid pattern. She has described
outside references and filling it back up with historical, rep- much of her work as the desire to “put a picture on top of a
resentational images. picture so that there are times when both pictures disappear
and other times when they’re both manifest; that vibration
In the creation of her 1996 nine-part Cathedral series, based is basically what the work’s about for me – that space in
on Impressionist Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral façades the middle where there’s no picture, rather an emptiness, an
dematerialized into daubs of color, and her 2007 After oblivion.”20 21

Sherrie Levine
After da Vinci, 2013
Giclee inkjet prints
18 x 25,5 x 20,3 cm
Edition of 6

Sherrie Levine
Cathedral (9 parts), 1996
Iris print
9 x 86,4 x 71 cm
Edition of 10
Sherrie Levine
After Cézanne, 2007
Iris print
18 x 22,3 x 28 cm
Edition of 12

Interestingly, these post-modern digital works of Levine’s

bear a striking resemblance to one of Man Ray’s earliest
known artworks, Tapestry of 1911.

This patchwork had figural origins too - as clothing scraps

from the artist’s father’s tailor shop which Man Ray broke
down into arbitrary abstract squares and literally “stitched”
into an abstract grid pattern.

Man Ray regarded the chessboard grid as the “the original

goal of all graphic art…a field for clear thinking, impromp-
tu imagination, surprise, planning for the abstract” and the

“basis of all painting…”

He intended his chess sets and chessboards to be sepa-

rate works of art, even when they happened to be the same
scale and could be photographed or played with in combina-
tion. Many of his chessboard grid inspired works, such as

Tapestry, Knights of the Square Table (1961), and the Giant

Chess Board Painting were made of non-traditional materi-
als - cloth, silkscreened plastic, framed hard woods, plastic
contact paper and/or painted plywood.

Man Ray
Giant Chess Board Painting - Jeu d'échecs géant, 1961
Contact Paper™ and oil paint on plywood panel
98 x 98 cm
© Man Ray Trust

Man Ray
Tapestry, 1911
Cloth patchwork sewn onto canvas
210 × 151.8 cm
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris France
© Man Ray Trust
Levine, too, has “… always been attracted to grids. The Da- 6 ½ square units in oil paint on aluminum. The cropping on
daists and Surrealists were very interested in games... for these too suggest that they are not so much complete indi-
the same reasons I am. And they were also interested in the vidual paintings but, that they represent the entire genre of
language around play. The chessboard was a classic icon for all possible grid paintings.
them… that was another thing that attracted me.” 24

It is significant that Levine, with her professed view of art- mak-

Levine rivals Man Ray in the number of game-board-like grid ing as a game, entitled these works “Checks.” In chess, the
paintings she has made of eccentric materials. Just as the process of “checking” one’s opponent is a climactic, critical
early Christian icon painters painted on wooden panels, not point of the game, but is not necessarily the end of the game.
canvas, Levine has always painted her chessboard icons on
actual boards. She makes a pun of “game board” by con- Man Ray loved chess as a subject because, as the game of
flating her subject, an actual game board, with the material war and love, it enabled him to contrast the rational and ab-
“board” on which the image is painted. With odd formats and stract with the erotic and representational. His Giant Chess
half squares, they are boards for un-playable games. Their Board Painting is another “picture on top of a picture.” Half
identities hover between being “useless” art images and the buried by the central white grid squares is what appears to
useful objects they allude to in real-life. They are boards, and be a dancing female figure, naked from the waist down. How-
“not boards,” just as her plywood Knot Series are. Untitled ever, if the work is rotated 90 degrees, with a white square at
(Lead Checks…) with the 8 x 8 grid of chess, and Untitled the bottom right, as chess players would view a chess board,
(Lead Chervon…), suggesting backgammon patterns, both the figure is no longer dancing but supine, her spread legs
1985 series were painted with casein on lead plates. A pair and naked pelvis occupying exactly the central squares most
of series, the Large Check: 1-6, and Large Check: 7-12, each crucial to achieving a “conquest” when playing chess, adding
of 1999, consist of 6 panels 13 ½ squares tall x 4 ½ squares a tantalizing distraction to any players trying to calmly plot
painted with Duo Oil paint on solid oak panels in dazzling their next moves. Levine strikingly expanded this contrast

pairs of colors. Still others are executed on mahogany. of the rational and abstract with the erotic and representa-
tional in her 1984 show, entitled 1917 at Nature Morte Gal-
The eccentric proportions and half squares across their bot- lery, in New York, when she generated considerable frisson
toms and right sides imply that they are cropped portions by exhibiting her versions of Kazimir Malevich Suprematist
of limitless color grid fields of an unidentified, but infinite abstractions juxtaposed with her copies of Egon Schiele’s
game. A Red and Grey Check series, 2000, are 12 square by masturbatory self-portraits.

Man Ray made the eroticism that is implicit in the naked

dancing figure in the Giant Chess Board Painting explicit
with his Mr. and Mrs. Woodman mannequins of 1947. The
coupling wooden male and female figures trapped in a box Man Ray
accompany a bound folio of twenty-seven gelatin silver pho- Mr. and Mrs Woodman
tographs of the duo in suggestive Kama Sutra poses. The Wooden mannequins in a bound, signed box
with 27 gelatin silver prints, 1970
1970 re-presentation of the 1947 photos as an edition of a 30,5 x 25 x 6,5 cm
subject addressed earlier is yet another example of the Man Edition N°A.P.
Ray’s attitude “to create is divine; to reproduce is human.”
© Man Ray Trust
Man Ray
Mr. and Mrs Woodman
27 gelatin silver prints
in a bound volume, 1970
30,5 x 25 x 6,5 cm
Edition N°A.P.
© Man Ray Trust
Man Ray
Le Cadeau / Gift - series II, 1921 - 70
Patinated bronze
17 x 10 x 10 cm
Edition N°A.P. Schwartz 11 ex
© Man Ray Trust

“…MORE THAN ONE FACTOR, AT LEAST TWO…” Her works, though “…very complicated…, can be read icono- But does this enigmatic work issue a threat of violence to women or a warning to men of the dan- Sherrie Levine
ger of women? Man Ray had relationships with many strong, independent-minded women, among Cadeau, 2006
Polished bronze (2 parts)
Man Ray and Sherrie Levine also have a shared sensibility them Adon Lacroix, Kiki of Montparnasse, Meret Oppenheim, and Lee Miller. If viewed through A: 15,2 x 10,8 x 8,9 cm
in their use of objects in the creation of three-dimensional And so, one might try to read an icon of Dada, Man Ray’s the rearview mirror of a millennial feminist sensibility one might wonder if Man Ray, as if an idiot B: 14 x 12 x 5 cm
artworks. Almost a decade before the Surrealists, Man Ray found object sculpture Cadeau (or Gift), originally designed savant, may have prophetically crafted an icon that even offers an alternate reading of feminist Edition of 12
adopted the strategies of the readymade and the found ob- in 1921 and editioned in 1970, along with Levine’s 2006 rebellion, resistance, and rejection of men.
ject, regarding everyday articles as a new source of “raw ma- Cadeau. Duchamp asserted that designating a useful object
terials” from which to make new art. a readymade or a found object made it useless. Man Ray Levine’s Cadeau has two factors as well – the retriever and the flat iron. However, the two factors
“...made useless objects with useful titles,” and their use-
actually become three: the iron, the retriever, and the bird offered by the retriever. How do the el-
Levine then adopted and modified this approach under her lessness then became one of their defining characteristics ements relate? Does the dog represent an artist? Are both seekers, “choosers?” Each has chosen
rubric of appropriation. As with chess, ethnographic images, as art. Man Ray’s Cadeau is an ultimate expression of this an object from daily life, retrieved it, rendered it "useless" and offered it for approval.
and the pantheon of Modernism, objects from the outside “utility/futility” dynamic.
world, originally made by others, could be re-cast into works of The artwork becomes the gift/cadeau. The iron stands blank, mute, and immovable. Its mir-
art by changing their context and presentation. The art-mak- A flat iron and a handful of tacks are Man Ray’s two factors, ror-like surface reflects the artist’s gift with no hint of appreciation, suggesting a tableau of de-
ing process became a form of connoisseurship, transforming “not related in any way,” though both are domestic objects and
sire for acceptance met with rejection, not unlike the initial responses both Man Ray and Sherrie
the artist from being a “maker” into a “chooser” - drawing the both are used to hold things down. The vertical line of tacks re- Levine experienced when they offered their radical new art forms as gifts to the art world.
artist closer to the role of the curator or collector. lates to the similar line of clothespins (also used to hold things)
that appear in his the photo of the first found object sculptures,
Man Ray posited that his “…attitude toward the object was Woman, of 1918 that Levine re-presented in 2006.
different from Duchamp’s for whom retitling an object suf-
ficed. I need more than one factor, [I need] at least two. With the application of the tacks, Man Ray turned the do-
Two factors that are not related in any way. The creative act mestic female tool for smoothing things out into a menacing
for me rests in the coupling of these two different factors weapon with which to tear things up. Author Janine Mileaf
in order to produce something new, which might be called points out that “the arched or cavelike shape, presumed
a plastic poem.” Levine acknowledges that though her
weightiness, and projecting teeth echo the derogatory motif
"…art comes out of the Dada tradition…there's no such of the female sex as vagina dentata, a dark cavern with a
thing as a neutral material that's devoid of association.” 28
harmful threshold.” 32
Another work that evidences Levine’s ties to the Dada tra- with energy, manically animate and expressionistically gro-
dition is her 1996 cast aluminum and rubber edition of a tesque. A play between subject and form, each work presents
tricycle. It is entitled Hobbyhorse, an English translation for exactly the same subject three times but without repeat-
the French word “Dada” that was chosen at random from a ing exactly the same form. Though each group suggests a
dictionary to be the art movement’s name. 33
father-mother-child family, origins contradict appearances
since both the Muses and the Furies were groups of sister
Dada replaced the natural with the mechanical as art, just figures.
as the tricycle supplanted the hobbyhorse in the realm of
play and as the motor car replaced the horse in the realm With her interest in the implication of expansion in any re-
of work. Though tricycles offer children their first real free-
peated form, Levine may have chosen The Three Muses as
dom of movement, Levine's mechanical Hobbyhorses, with a subject, because in subsequent re-writings of mythology
their elegant brushed aluminium finishes, often exhibited they multiply to eventually become as many as nine muses.
on a series of small plinths, generate ghostly hall-of-mir-
ror reflections of each other yet assume an air of arrested With her concern in representation and re-representation,
movement. 35
The Three Furies may have been attractive because their
initial mythological role was to police the mis-representa-
Levine’s The Three Muses and The Three Furies, each in- tion of facts, stories, and the natural order of things. 37

spired by objects found at Santa Fe antiques markets, 36

were presented in 2006, at the same time as her Cadeau. Initially, the Furies did not have well-defined visual appear-
A study in contrasts, The Three Muses are dense, concentrat- ances, which would explain the metamorphic look of these
ed masses - stolid and static, while The Three Furies, explode objects Levine has fashioned.

Sherrie Levine Sherrie Levine Sherrie Levine

Hobbyhorse, 1996 The Three Furies, 2006 The Three Muses, 2006
Cast aluminium, rubber Cast bronze Cast bronze (3 parts)
69 x 89 x 48 cm A: 23.5 x 31.7 x 12.7 cm A 13 x 23,5 x 12 cm
Edition of 12 B: 36.2 x 20.3 x 24.1 cm B 12 x 17,8 x 10,8 cm
C: 30.5 x 35.5 x 21.7 cm C 10,4 x 17,8 x 8,2 cm
Edition of 12 Edition of 12
Man Ray Man Ray
Le Fou, 1970 Proverb, 1944-73
Silver-plated bronze Silver and wood
20,5 x 14 cm 32 x 15 x 14,5 cm
Edition of 9 Edition N°A.P.
© Man Ray Trust © Man Ray Trust

Proverb has a rigid, silent pendulum blade frozen in an obe-

Man Ray did so in his 1947 Eccentric Chessboard, composed lisk form that is a horizontally compressed version of the
of a grid of rectangles, not squares; as did Levine with her metronome in the artist’s 1922 Object to be Destroyed. Prov-
1999 Large Check series of vertically stretched and cropped erb also echoes the pyramid form of the King piece of Man
game board paintings mentioned above. Ray’s 1920 and 1926 chess sets. In the fashioning of his
ENLARGED, ELONGATED AND RELATED “plastic poems,” puns and acrobatic wordplay were often cru-
In the realm of objects, Man Ray exploited this “stretch/com- cial additional “factors.”
In their commercial art work, both Man Ray and Sherrie press” technique to great advantage in his enlarged, elegant
Levine became familiar with the practice of systematically silver chess piece Bishop, Le Fou, of 1970, which is based In this case, possibly finding this object more expensive than
compressing or stretching an image on its horizontal or ver- on the 1962 chess set design discussed earlier, and Proverb, he’d like, the artist commented that “choosers can’t be beg-
tical axis to fit it into a layout or exaggerate it for effect. They which was originally conceived of in 1944 then produced as gars,” reversing the standard maxim, identifying the artist as

both later used this effectively in their art. an edition in 1973. a “chooser,” and creating his own new Proverb in the process.
Permanent Attraction, first created in 1948, is pictured, ti-
tled and signed in this rare photograph along with Man Ray’s
Alphabet for Adults, 1948, and To Be Continued Unnoticed,
the catalog for his 1948 exhibition at the Copley Galleries in
Hollywood. The Permanent Attraction, editioned in 1971, fea-
tures vastly enlarged and elongated chess pawns and Queen,
and at first suggests a simple, trophy-like tribute to the art-
ist’s life-long love of chess.

However, as a combination of the abstract grid and the figur-

al/erotic, the pieces may also suggest female breasts and an
enlarged male member, or every chess-player’s dream, the
chess achievement of pawn promotion, the gender and role
transformation of a lowly pawn into an all-powerful Queen if
the pawn successfully penetrates the hindmost rank of the
opponent’s domain on the chessboard. One could consider
Levine’s entire œuvre as a meta-gesture of “pawn promotion”
is that she pushes her ideas to their extreme endpoint in or-
der to re-gender the works of dead male artists into those of
a living female artist, Levine, herself.


Man Ray and Sherrie Levine have each produced other works
by adeptly employing the “choosing” and manipulation strat-
egies of the Readymade and the found object.

Arturo Schwarz cites Sculpture by Itself II as one Man Ray’s

“first ‘interpreted Found objects’ …where we find Man Ray’s
creative method at its most economical: a slight modification
of a mundane object is sufficient to transmute it into a poeti-
cal creation.” Man Ray anticipated his future photos of Afri-

can sculptures by displaying this abandoned wooden assem-

bly template as a totemic abstract figural form. He executed
a precise mechanical drawing of it on the wall of his studio,
in white lines on a dark wall, like the commercial blueprint
he made of his early chess set drawing. 40

He also laid the original wooden piece down flat onto a piece
of illustration board, along with drafting curves and hand
tools, and used it as a stencil to spray paint around with a41

commercial art airbrush - creating a drawing with “...a pho-

tographic quality...” presaging his future development of the

Rayogram photo technique. Hence, he made this "useless"

object assume three roles, that of: a sculpture; a model; and
a drawing tool.

Man Ray

Sculpture By Itself II, 1918-1966

59 cm height
The model - Unique piece
© Man Ray Trust

Permanent Attraction, 1948

Gelatin silver print
24,6 x 19,7 cm
MRT 20629.39 © Man Ray Trust
Levine has also produced work that Schwarz might term an
‘interpreted Found object’ as he described Man Ray’s Sculp-
ture By Itself II, above. Levine once explained that “the pic-
tures I make are really ghosts of ghosts; their relationship to
the original images is…three or four times removed.” 43

Among these ghosts are related series of 2-D works Levine

has made since 1985, among them: her Large Gold Knots;
her Lead Knots; and her Large Pink Knots. These works may
indeed be ghosts of paintings. All are typical sizes of paint-
ings and are simply framed as if they were paintings. How-
ever, like Man Ray’s works, they function as visual puns and
present a number of paradoxes or contradictions.

Instead of being traditional stretched canvases covered with

painted images, patterns, or gestures they are a non-tradi-
tional material for art – plywood panels. Though uncommon

as art material, this plywood made from fir trees is the most
common utility grade building material in the United States.
It is as common to building and everyday-life as canvas is
to painting. In fact, in her Large Pink Knots Series, Levine
adopts the uncut 244 x 122 cm, or 96 x 48 inch size panels
that are the standard “sheet size” used in all construction
in the United States. Proportion-wise, it is the everyday-life
building equivalent to the “golden section” in design and
painting composition. In its unaltered 96 x 48 inch size sheet,
it indeed becomes a found object or Readymade. In building
houses, plywood is used for “framing” and for “closing in” –
cladding a building structure, but in Levine’s case, it is the
plywood itself that is framed and closed in, instead. Framing
the plywood prevents it from being built into anything useful,
hence further defining it with the “utile/futile” characteristic
of the Readymade.

This plywood is produced by peeling thin, consistent veneer

layers off of a length of a tree trunk with a machine. Wherev-
er there were branches, knots appear. These are cut out of
the veneers and in-filled with a generic abstract pointy-end-
ed ovoid shape of the same veneer. Levine allows this nat-
ural chance operation process to pre-determine the layout
of these shapes which she then clads with the alchemical
elements – either gold or lead metallic paint, or she replaces
the organic wood with the inorganic - acrylic plastic paint.
Instead of painting an elaborate image or abstract design
on the panel, Levine again allows chance to pre-determine
the vivid, endlessly varied wood grain patterns as her com-
positions. Just as Man Ray’s contemporary, the Belgium Sur-
realist Magritte created a painting that declared “Ceci n’est
ne pas une pipe,” Levine presents a ghost that is “knot” a
painting and both is fir and is not fur.

Sherrie Levine
Large Pink Knot 5, 1985/2003
Acrylic paint on plywood
244 x 122 cm
Man Ray’s Square Dumbbells or Haltères is another work
predicated upon contradictory wordplay, and manipulation
of a found object to arrive at the “utility/futility” dynamic dis-
cussed above in regard to Cadeau.

The artist seized upon the contradiction inherent in the word

“dumbbell”: dumb, meaning mute, or silent; and bell, a hollow
metal form that creates a musical note when shaken. When
originally conceived of in 1944, the artist found a pair of wood-
en dumbbells, which typically had a round ball-form at each
end of their handles. A clear pattern of saw cut marks on the
1944 solid ebony originals indicate that the artist had the ball-
forms cut off so they could not reproduce (a sound), then nest-
ed them into individual form-fit pockets inside a velvet-lined
wooden box so they “wooden/wouldn’t” ring.

Man Ray freezes Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase by

photographing it in black and white while Levine brings the work
back to life again by the simple gesture of assembling a grid of
color postcard reproductions of the Duchamp piece, each with
minute differences of color and focus.

The repeated images flicker across the wall suggesting film

frames animating the subtle shifts in motion that Duchamp cap-
tured in his painting and creating a rich chromatic chord of what
the artist refers to as “the almost same.”

Man Ray
Square Dumbbells/Haltères, 1944-66
Silver dumbells presented
in a wooden box lined with velvet
22,8 x 4,4 x 4,4 cm
Edition of 18
© Man Ray Trust

Man Ray
Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp, ca.1920
Gelatin silver print
29,1 x 17,2 cm
© Man Ray Trust
Sherrie Levine
After Duchamp: Nude Descending a Staircase, 2012
Original color postcards
Each: 50.8 x 40.6 cm
Overall: 152.5 x 244 cm
Man Ray In the 1920 found object work Obstruction Man Ray turns
Obstruction, 1920/1964 repetition into a chain reaction.
65 wooden coat hangers with original suitcase
110 x 120 x 120 cm
Master before Arturo Schwarz Edition Originally made eleven years before Alexander Calder’s first
Unique piece with 65 coat hangers documented Mobiles, the work is formed by the repetitive
© Man Ray Trust action of linking one coat hanger to another, but it expands
rather than simply repeats, implying a potential progression
to infinity. Obstruction is fixed at points, yet constantly shift-
ing in its relationships, one part to another. Originally intend-
ed to be hung in a doorway, it is an airborne kinetic counter-
point to Marcel Duchamp’s Trebuchet, (a name derived from
the French chess term for trap) also a coat rack obstruction,
but one immovably mounted to the floor.

Each of these works exerts a strong sense of Dada absurdi-

ty, since hanging up a guest’s coat is a gesture of hospital-
ity contradicted by the imagined coat either being hung in
the doorway, preventing the visitor’s entrance, in Man Ray’s
case; or flat in the middle of a messy studio floor, in Du-
Right page : champ’s case. Made during a period when Man Ray was ac-
tively playing chess, Obstruction can also suggest a chart of
Installation view of the trajectories of a chess game slaloming from side to side
"Le Surréalisme et l'Objet", 2013-14
Centre George Pompidou, Paris FRANCE toward an eventual endgame checkmate.
© Centre Pompidou-Mnam-Bibliothèque
Kandinsky-Georges Meguerditchian It is a repetition, it is a series, yet not at all a grid.
The fetishistic nature of much of Man Ray’s art is widely ac- Though Sigmund Freud is said to have stated that “some-
knowledged and Levine readily concedes that her work too times a cigar is just a cigar,” Levine’s Fedora, transposed
“…has always been very self-consciously about fetishism.” 47
from soft warm felt to cold hard bronze, is not just a hat, even
though slavishly accurate in its details. In fact, the ultimate
Her first New York gallery event, held in 1976, was not an sleight-of-hand illusion Levine performs is convincing us to
exhibition but a sale of what she acknowledged as “the ul- believe the hat is a fedora when the perfectly rolled up edge
timate fetish object,” shoes. Levine has covered fetishes
48 49
of its brim defines it as a homburg, the style of hat that

almost literally from head to toe, finally producing a life-size Freud himself was most often often pictured wearing. 52

cast bronze edition Fedora, in 2011. Man Ray had photo-

graphed women’s hats as soft and suggestive as a woman’s
sex while Levine hardened her man’s hat into a shiny helmet
but left the traditional deep cleft in its crown.

Levine’s Fedora is similar to her description of her 1991 Foun-

tain (After Marcel Duchamp) cast bronze urinal “…an object
that has a function so closely identified with men, but the
form is so feminine…” Like a magician performing hat tricks,

Levine uses the work to offer a light, bright counterpoint to the

iconic dark, matte black bowler hats in the works of Magritte
and to the signature grey felt hat always worn by artist/sha-
man Joseph Beuys (a man wearing a Beuys/boy’s hat!).

Sherrie Levine
Fedora, 2011
Cast bronze
12,7 x 29,2 x 25,4 cm
Edition of 12
Sherrie Levine Sherrie Levine
Green Skull, 2012 Phrenology Cranium, 2006
Crystal glass Plated bronze
14 x 18 x 11 cm 25,4 x 15,2 x 17,8 cm
Edition of 12 Edition of 12
In 1993 Levine presented her work, Newborn, frosted glass writ large? The artist sets up a tension between the worldly
casts of Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture of the same name opulence that the polished bronze and cast glass suggest
depicting a highly abstracted baby’s head. Brancusi produced and the references to the ascetic tone of classical memento
his first version in marble, in 1915 followed by a bronze re-in- mori, which encourage giving up worldly luxuries since death
terpretation in 1920. Brancusi’s Newborn was the same size is assured. The pieces may also refer to skull and skeleton
and shape as the large ostrich egg that Man Ray kept in his pieces by her fellow artists Damien Hirst and Gabriel Orozco.
studio and repeatedly photographed. In a cradle to grave
counterpoint to her Newborn, Levine has more recently of- Jawbone, 2005, is the powerful remnant of the skull still able
fered Jawbone, Phrenology Cranium, a series of frosted cast to consume, but without the powers to reason or perceive,
glass Skulls and series of animal skulls and skeletons. while the Phrenology Cranium, 2006 is modeled after the
cast plaster and ceramic busts by mid-nineteenth century in-
Levine has professed her love of grids as universal systems ventor Lorenzo Niles Fowler, whose pseudo-science of phre-
of geometric. She has stated that her work is a “commingling nology promoted the idea that a person’s thoughts, passions
of the anthropomorphic and the geometric” so, her skulls
and aptitudes were directly reflected in their facial and skel-
and skeletons express a countervailing fascination with uni- etal structure.
versal systems of anthropomorphic structuring.
Levine's 2008 bronze cast of a two-headed calf, entitled
With concern for both the cerebral and the sensory, Levine False God pointedly asks when is something unique? When
may have chosen these subjects because the head is both is it a copy? When is it a reproduction? When is it one of a
the center of our higher abstract reasoning and the center of series? Where is the original? Since Levine has divided her
our direct sensory experiences – sight, smell, taste, hearing time between New York and New Mexico for the past several
and touch. years, the emergence of animal skulls, especially those of
cattle, allude to such skull images as subjects in New Mexico
The skull is the head devoid of life and emptied of its sensory by 20 th century American Modernist Georgia O’Keefe.
processing faculties, however. It can be read as the symbol-
ic transition point from life and time as we know it, to an This would represent the first time Levine has made work
unknown and possibly unknowable eternity - a limitless grid inspired by the imagery by another woman artist.

Sherrie Levine

Jawbone, 2005
Bronze with patina
22,9 x 15,2 x 10,2 cm
Edition of 12

False God, 2008

Cast bronze
62,2 x 62,2 x 24,8 cm
Edition of 12
In terms of the body and body parts as imagery Man Ray and Man Ray began re-producing his earlier works of the 1920s
Sherrie Levine are a study in contrasts. Man Ray focused the and 30s during WWII in the 1940s when he feared all his
majority of his attention on the bodies of live, often nude, fe- life work, left behind in Paris might have been destroyed.
male artists’ models while Levine has chosen as her models In the mid-1980s Levine began to produce generic versions
the bodies of artwork by deceased male artists. of modernist abstract styles that she had theoretically aban-
doned in the 1970s… One dilemma that each artist faced

Paradoxically, it was one of the saddest events of Man Ray’s was that when museums and collectors would finally come
life, the break-up with his paramour Lee Miller, that inspired to understand and value of their work, earlier work would
two of his most well-known works, each based on a sensory always be in greatest demand. Late in his life buyers seeking
organ: Object to be Destroyed, 1932, the metronome with a “vintage” copies of certain images, rather than more recent
cropped photo of Miller’s eye affixed to it; and A l’heure de prints, led Man Ray to respond “Vintage? I am not a wine.” 59

l’observatoire – Les Amoureux, Observatory Time – The Lov-

ers, 1932 – 1934. Man Ray felt all of his work had equal value as ideas.
He felt past and present existed as one. He entitled a 1966
The artist depicted Miller’s lips enlarged to monumental retrospective catalog essay “I Have Never Painted a Recent
scale to suggest the bodies of supine lovers pressed togeth- Picture.” and explained “as far as I am concerned, every-

er, silhouetted floating in an eternal twilight above the sky- thing happened simultaneously – like scenery seen from a
line of the Luxembourg Gardens, near the studio they shared, fast train.” 61

with the twin domes of the Paris Observatory, distant on the

horizon. The image has both an arresting, immediate impact In his Hollywood Album of 1940 - 1948 Man Ray wrote “it is
and an expansive, meditative timelessness. permitted to repeat oneself as much as possible …nothing
is more legitimate and more satisfactory,” and Levine has

It is both one of the most Surreal and one of the most en- explained that to her, “repetition is implicit in the notion of
duringly romantic images of the 20 th century. The number of the readymade. I think that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to
times and ways in which this image has been reproduced this tradition.” “I like repetition, because it implies an end-

is a tribute to its endless appeal. Aside from the original oil less succession of substitutes and missed encounters… [and
painting, which resides in a private collection, perhaps the helps] maximize the historical references and the metaphor-
grandest version of this image is the large-scale, limited edi- ical possibilities.” “There's a compulsion to repeat. In other

tion color lithograph the artist produced in 1970. words, the game is never won.” 65


The many references to early unique Man Ray works later The work of Sherrie Levine and Man Ray both evidence a
issued in new versions, multiples or editions touches upon tenacious commitment to the pursuit of radical experimen-
the concerns about originals, repetitions, reproductions, tation with or without wide appreciation or support. Man Ray
Man Ray editions, and series which he shares with Sherrie Levine. once lamented that “the world really hates new ideas; [but] it
A l’heure de l’Observatoire - Les Amoureux
Observatory Time – The Lovers, 1970
Regarding art-making, Levine has stated that “…desire comes loves tricks. And under the guise of tricks it is possible some-
Color lithograph on wove paper, signed and numbered in pencil. first… for me, art’s basically about pleasure” while Man
times to put over new and valid ideas… the tricks of today are
Printed by Chave, Venice, published by Jean Petithory, Paris Ray admitted that “the pursuit of pleasure [is] my guiding the truths of tomorrow.” 66

67,5 x 103,7 cm motive… desire, not necessity is the stimulant,” and went

Edition of 150
© Man Ray Trust
on to describe his art works as “objets de mon affection.” 56
Many shared experiences and concerns influenced and in-
These pleasures and affections are discovered and revisited spired the work of Man Ray and Sherrie Levine: a thorough
throughout a career via repetition of images and themes, of- grounding in the most advanced visual technology of their
ten with changes of scale or medium. eras; commercial art experience; work with a wide variety of
media, including experimental materials; an interest in games
In his book objets de mon affection Man Ray included a sec- and play as creative strategies; introduction of new realms of
tion entitled “Originals Graphics Multiples” which read: subject matter; a fascination with masks and fetishes; pio-
neering use of the found object and the readymade; willing-
An original is a creation ness to transpose and repeat images across time and media;
motivated by a desire. and employment of simple, profound gestures to re-define
Any reproduction of an original art-making.
Is motivated by necessity.
The original is the result of
an automatic mental process,
Each re-examination of their work leads us to a new appre-
the reproduction, of a mechanical ciation of their contributions and to eagerly anticipate what
process. In other words: further developments they may inspire in generations to come.
Inspiration then information;
Each validates the other.
All other considerations are Larry List
Beyond the scope of these New York, May 2015
It is marvelous that we are
The only species that creates
Gratuitous forms.
To create is divine, to reproduce
Is human.”57
with her classmate and friend, the artist Lisa Mackie, each described Levine’s interest in using photos 45 A reference to Object, 1936, another Surrealist icon, this one made by a woman, Man Ray’s friend,
of herself and others in Halloween-style masks, gauze head-wrappings, and other costumes and dis- Meret Oppenheim. It is comprised of a fur-clad tea cup, saucer and spoon and is in the collection of
guises as imagery for photo-lithographs while at University of Wisconsin-Madison. he Museum of Modern Art, New York.
18 Man Ray, Self Portrait, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1979, p. 257. Man Ray photographed Lee Miller wear- 46 “Interviews with Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, and Fred Wilson.” The Duchamp Effect. Ed. Martha

ing an open metal mesh mask as early as 1930. Between 1941 and 1960 he decorated numerous Buskirk and Mignon Nixon. Massachussetts Institute of Technology and October Magazine, Ltd. 1996.
paper mâche masks to be worn at parties and in photo sessions. Also an advocate of maskenfreiheit, From May 13, 1994 interview material originally published in October 70 (Fall 1994).p. 178.
on page 275 the artist explained, “I painted paper mâche masks for the girls who put them on and
danced weirdly, with complete abandon, secure in their anonymity.” 47 Constance Lewallen . “Sherrie Levine.” Interview in Journal Of Contemporary Art. http://www.jca-on-
19 This approach relates to the printmaking tradition of producing titled “suites” of thematically relat-
ed individual images all printed in the same medium on the same size paper and collected as loose 48 “Interviews with Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, and Fred Wilson.” The Duchamp Effect. Ed. Martha
leaves in a folio. Buskirk and Mignon Nixon. Massachussetts Institute of Technology and October Magazine, Ltd. 1996.
From May 13, 1994 interview material originally published in October 70 (Fall 1994).p. 178.
20McShine, Kynaston, The Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect, The Museum of Modern Art, New York,
1999, p. 40. 49 This event, entitled Shoe Sale was held in “The 3 Mercer Street Store,” an alternative space run
by Stefan Eins. It is described in many sources, including ”Sherrie Levine: Rules of the Game,” David
21In a phone interview of March 31, 2015, Victor Kord, Levine’s introductory painting teacher, said that Deitcher. Sherrie Levine, Kunsthalle Zürich . Los Angeles/New York, 1991. p. 8.
the first painting assignment he gave was to have each student copy another painting, then compare
their copy with the original. In identifying the gaps and differences between the two, the student could 50Siegel, Jeanne, “The Anxiety of Influence,” interview with Sherrie Levine Angeles/New York. Sherrie
begin to discover their own personal style. This assignment has been done by generations of art stu- Levine, Deitcher, David. “Sherrie Levine: The Rules of the Game,” Los (Kunsthalle Zürich. 1991). p. 17.
dents but only Levine discovered an element in it that she could later use to profound effect.
51Flusser, Allan, “Hat Styles,” Clothes and the Man: Principles of Fine Men’s Dress. New York, Villard
22Man Ray, unpublished notes, “Painting and Photography,” Hollywood Album 1940 -1948, n.p. (Man Books, 1991. P. 138 – 139.
Ray Letters and Album 1922 - 76, boxes 3 -4, Special Collections, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles).
52 http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/
23 Man Ray’s intention that the Giant Chess Board Painting be identified as a painting is made clear austrian-psychologist-sigmund-freud-arrives-in-paris-after-news-photo/56818109
from his inscription on the back complete with description, dimensions, and the kind and color of
frame he wanted it presented in. 53 “Interviews with Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, and Fred Wilson.” The Duchamp Effect. Ed. Martha
Buskirk and Mignon Nixon. Massachussetts Institute of Technology and October Magazine, Ltd. 1996.
24Siegel, Jeanne, “The Anxiety of Influence,” interview with Sherrie Levine Angeles/New York. Sherrie From May 13, 1994 interview material originally published in October 70 (Fall 1994).p. 181.
Levine, Deitcher, David. “Sherrie Levine: The Rules of the Game,” Los (Kunsthalle Zürich. 1991). p. 17.
54 Siegel, Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine, 59, no. 10 (Summer, 1985). 85.
25 Other drawings from 1960, Couple (recto/verso). Ink on paper. 17.7 x 23.8 cm 7 x 9 3/8 inches; Interview conducted in March 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. pp. 248 – 249.
1961, Untitled, pencil, and Bon Soir Man Ray, 1972, drawn in the exactly the same linear style of nude
couples untitled making love reinforce this interpretation along with Photo of a Drawing of Woman 55 Man Ray. Objets de mon affection. (Paris: Philippe Sers Editeur, 1983) p. 158.
Dancing (n.d.), 7 x 5 1/16 inches, a vintage silver gelatin print with pen markings and a grid in red pen,
“Scale 1/6”” written in black. Verso: “for chessboard 1m x 1m.” The grid is laid out from an emphatic 56 Ibid.
red dot at the exact point where the dancer’s bare legs meet, indicating the artist’s intention to use
it as the central compositional focus and point from which to spread the grid layout in all directions. 57 Ibid.
The corresponding point is also physically scored into both the front and the back sides of the plywood
painting surface. 58Siegel, Jeanne, “The Anxiety of Influence,” interview with Sherrie Levine Angeles/New York. Sherrie
Levine, Deitcher, David. “Sherrie Levine: The Rules of the Game,” Los (Kunsthalle Zürich. 1991). p. 17.
26Man Ray and Jacobs, Rosalind. Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde, Mel Stuart, PBS American
Masters Series, September 17, 2005. 59Man Ray quoted in Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde, Mel Stuart, PBS American Masters Series,
September 17, 2005.
Schwarz, Arturo. Man Ray: The Rigour of the Imagination, Rizzoli, New York, 1977, p. 158.
60Man Ray. “I Have Never Painted a Recent Picture.” In Jules Langsner, ed., Man Ray. (Los Angeles
28McKenna, Kristine. “Sherrie Levine and the Art of the Remake.” Los Angeles Times. November 17, County Museum of Art. 1966). pp. 28 – 31.
1996. http://articles.latimes.com/1996-11-17/entertainment/ca-65436_1_sherrie-levine
Larry List is a New York-based scholar and curator of 20th and 21st cen- 1Man Ray. Interview, “Deceiving Appearances,” Paris-Soir. 1926. As cited by Lauren Schell Dickens in 61Man Ray. Interview with Man Ray. 1964. As cited by Lauren Schell Dickens in “Man Ray: A Cultural
“Man Ray: A Cultural Timeline, 1890 – 1976.” Alias Man Ray. ed. Mason Klein. (New York: The Jewish 29Siegel, Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine, June 1985. Interview conducted in March Timeline, 1890 – 1976.” Alias Man Ray. ed. Mason Klein. (New York: The Jewish Museum; New Haven:
tury art. His many essays include contributions to Duchamp Man Ray Pi- Museum; New Haven: Yale University Press) 2009. p. 188. 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. p. 253. Yale University Press) 2009. p. 162.
cabia (Tate Modern), Transformer: The Work of Glenn Kaino (The Warhol
Museum), and ViralNet, (California Institute of Art). He curated exhibitions 2 Siegel ,Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine: interview with Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine. 59, no. 10 (Sum- 30Man Ray. “I Have Never Painted a Recent Picture,” In Jules Langsner, ed., Man Ray. (Los Angeles 62Man Ray, unpublished notes, Hollywood Album, 1940 -1948, n.p. Man Ray Letters and Album 1922-
mer,1985). p. 143. County Museum of Art. 1966). p. 28. 76, boxes 3 -4, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.
for the Isamu Noguchi Museum, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston; Art Talk, The Early 80’s, reprinted in Da Capo Press, New York 1988. pp. 245–255. Interview conducted
the Rekjavik Art Museum; DOX Center for Contemporary Art, Prague and oth- in March 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. 31Siegel, Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine, June 1985. Interview conducted in March 63 “Interviews with Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, and Fred Wilson.” The Duchamp Effect. Ed. Martha
er institutions. List’s book on chess, Surrealism, and the New York School, 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. p. 253. Buskirk and Mignon Nixon. Massachussetts Institute of Technology and October Magazine, Ltd. 1996.
3 Constance Lewallen . “Sherrie Levine.” Interview in Journal Of Contemporary Art. http://www.jca-on- From May 13, 1994 interview material originally published in October 70 (Fall 1994). pp 180 – 181.
The Imagery of Chess Revisited, was nominated for the College Art Associa- line.com/slevine.html 32Mileaf, Janine. Please Touch: Dada and Surrealist Objects After the Readymade, Dartmouth College
tion’s Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award. Press, Hanover, New Hampshire, 2010, p. 56. (Mileaf offers this interpretation and makes further ref- 64 Levine, Sherrie. “After Brancusi,” Sherrie Levine: Newborn. Ed. Ann Temkin. Philadelphia: Philadel-
4 Donald Judd, "Specific Objects," 1964. Arts Yearbook 8 [1965], p. 94; reprinted in Thomas Kellein, erence to Gauthier, Xavière. Surréalisime et sexualité, Editions Gaullimard, Paris, 1971, pp. 162 – 73). phia Museum of Art; Frankfurt: Portikus, 1993.
Donald Judd: Early Works 1955–1968 (exh. cat. New York: D.A.P., 2002) Levine refers to Judd’s work
The author would like to acknowledge the valuable input and support offered frequently in her interviews and often draws parallels between their work. 33 Budd, Dona, The Language of Art Knowledge Cards, Pomegranate Communications, Inc. cites the 65Taylor, Paul. “Sherrie Levine Plays with Paul Taylor, interview with Sherrie Levine,” Flash Art, June
by Sherrie Levine and the staff of the Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery as name "Dada" came during a meeting of the group when a paper knife stuck into a French-German 1987, pp. 116.
well as by fellow artists and scholars Jack Damer, Wendy Grossman, Kathy 5 The “uncanny valley” is a term coined by Masahiro Mori in 1970 and refers to the nadir of humans’ dictionary happened to point to 'dada', a French word for 'hobbyhorse'.
comfort level with replicas that look almost, but not perfectly real and that trigger alternating waves 66 Man Ray. untitled text (March 1951), unpublished. As cited in Arturo Schwarz. Man Ray: The Rigour
Grove, Cody Hartley, Laura Hunt, Timothy Baum, Victor Kord, Lisa Mackie, of attraction and repulsion. Originally applied primarily in robotics but now also referred to in relation 34 Hobbyhorse may also refer to an image and event that was an important precursor to Levine’s of the Imagination (New York): Rizzoli, 1977), p. 307.
Steven Manford, Courtney Malick, Dana Martin-Strebel, Francis Naumann, to computer animations and other forms of simulacra. Rob Schwarz. use of photography - an iconic photograph of a tricycle taken by the American photographer William
Mary Panzer, Edouard Sebline and Andrew Strauss along with The Man Ray http://www.strangerdimensions.com/2013/11/25/10-creepy-examples-uncanny-valley/ Eggleston around 1972. That image was used on the cover of William Eggleston’s Guide, the catalog
of Eggleston’s retrospective held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976, just shortly after Levine moved
Trust, the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, 6 Kirk Varnedoe, “An Hour with Art Historian Kirk Varnedoe,” interview with by Charlie Rose, to New York. This exhibition of color photos contributed significantly to the acceptance of photography
Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Charlie Rose Show Show, Public Broadcasting System, February 1, 2002. as a legitimate art medium. Pictured from a child’s point of view, Eggleston’s tricycle looks unique,
monumental in size; bright, colorful, and alive in contrast to Levine’s version which, exhibited in series,
7 Sherrie Levine: New Work, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. January 17 – March 10, 1991. with their elegant brushed aluminum finishes, look like ghostly hall-of-mirror reflections of each other.
All photographs are reproduced courtesy of The Man Ray Trust, the Jablonka
Maruani Mercier Gallery, Paula Cooper Gallery, the artist Sherrie Levine, The 8Donald Judd. Untitled (Six boxes). 1974. 6 mirror polished brass cube units, each 101.6 h x 101.6 35 In her manner of using each work to reflect or contrast her past work, in 2008 Levine produced a pol-
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Centre George Pompidou. w x 101.6 d cm. Installation: 101.6 h x 736.6 w x 101.6 d cm. Acquired by the Australian National ished bronze cast of a worn wooden hobbyhorse found in a flea market and entitled it Dada. The black,
Gallery, September 1975. white and grey Hobbyhorse reads as a 3-D parallel to all of her mechanically produced black and white
photographs when considered in relation to the bright, shiny, handmade Arp-like, Calder-ish abstract
9Background provided in letter of March 18, 2015, to the author from Jack Damer, Levine’s lithogra­ form of Dada, which echoes the high abstraction of her Malevich, Duchamp and Brancusi-inspired works.
phy professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
36 “Sherrie Levine: Stalker,” Santa Fe Trend, Spring 2007, vol. 8, no. 1, p. 44. illus (interview)
10 Ibid.
37 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. "Furies". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
11 Siegel ,Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine: interview with Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine. 59, no. 10
(Sum­mer,1985). p. 143. 38 Man Ray. Objets de mon affection. (Paris: Philippe Sers Editeur, 1983) p. 151.
Art Talk, The Early 80’s, reprinted in Da Capo Press, New York 1988. pp. 245–255. Interview conducted
in March 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. 39 Schwarz, Arturo. Man Ray: The Rigour of the Imagination, Rizzoli, New York, 1977, pp. 154-155.

12Man Ray, Museum of Modern Art Archive, New York, (letter to the Museum of Modern Art, 10 July 40Man Ray. Sculpture by Itself II. Gelatin silver print. 1917. 9.8 x 7.5 cm (3 7/8 x 2 15/16 in.) Signed &
1961). The author would like to thank Steven Manford for bringing this letter to his attention. dated vo. print in pencil; signed on wall, left. Getty Museum Art Collection 86.XM.626.6.

13 Ibid. 41 Harking back to the technique of some of the earliest cave painters who pressed their hands, like
stencils, against the cave walls and dusted powdered ochre around them to leave ghostly negative
14Siegel, Jeanne, “The Anxiety of Influence,” interview with Sherrie Levine Angeles/New York. Sherrie silhouettes.
Levine, Deitcher, David. “Sherrie Levine: The Rules of the Game,” Los (Kunsthalle Zürich. 1991). p. 17.
42 Man Ray. Self Portrait. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, New York, Toronto, London, 1963. p. 67.
15 ManRay photographed artifacts from the collections of Paul Guillaume, Carl Kjersmeier, and Nancy
Cunard during the 1920s and 1930s, according to labelled examples at The Man Ray Trust. 43Siegel, Jeanne. “After Sherrie Levine.” Arts Magazine, 59, no. 10 (Summer, 1985). 85. Interview
conducted in March 1985 at the artist's studio in New York. p. 248.
16Lewallen, Constance. “Sherrie Levine,” Interview in Journal of Contemporary Art 6, no. 2. (1993)
http://www.jca-online.com/slevine.html 44In a phone interview of March 31, 2015, Victor Kord, Levine’s introductory painting teacher, said
that one characteristic of Levine’s work throughout her undergraduate and graduate work at the
17Maskenfreiheit is the German term for the freedom conferred by masks. In letters to the author, Jack University of Wisconsin-Madison was her use of non-traditional materials, such as painting on ply-
Damer (March 18, 2015), Levine’s lithography professor and in a phone interview (March 26, 2015) wood….
A Dialogue Through Objects, Images & Ideas


Exhibition & Catalogue



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