Hommage to Elaine Sturtevant (1930-2014)

May 9, 2014 | By French Culture

Born in 1930 at Lakewood, Ohio, Elaine Sturtevant was one of the pioneers of appropriation and pastiche in postwar art.  Sturtevant died on on May, 7th, 2014 in Paris.  In her work, she reproduced the art of numerous great artists such as Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys or Franck Stella always with subtle, witty changes of her own. One of her best known works derives from Francis Picabia’s ballet Relâche (Cancelled in English). Sturtevant's piece was staged in 1967 at the School of the Visual Arts in New York, the original was performed in 1924. Picabia's ballet was indeed cancelled at its first showing, supposedly because a dancer was ill. Sturtevant's recreation was, of course, also cancelled.

Her first solo exhibition was at Bianchini Gallery in New York in 1965. Since then, she has had several shows mostly in the United States and Europe. Her first solo show in France was at the Consortium in 2008, then at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2010. In 2011, she won the Lion d’Or of the Venice Biennale. In choosing her subjects, Sturtevant often found artists whose importance had not yet been recognized by the broader art world, and she had a remarkable understanding of the techniques used by the artists whose work she appropriated. When Andy Warhol was asked how he used to make his works, he answered “I don’t know, ask Elaine”.

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