In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of artists including Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine—at the time dubbed the "Pictures" generation—began using photography to examine the strategies and codes of representation. In reshooting Marlboro advertisements, B-movie stills, and even classics of Modernist photography, these artists adopted dual roles as director and spectator. In their manipulated appropriations, these artists were not only exposing and dissembling mass-media fictions, but enacting more complicated scenarios of desire, identification, and loss. In 1981, Levine photographed reproductions of Depression-era photographs by Walker Evans, such as this famous portrait of a family of Alabama sharecroppers. The series, entitled After Walker Evans, became a landmark of postmodernism, both praised and attacked as a feminist hijacking of patriarchal authority, a critique of the commodification of art, and an elegy on the death of modernism. Far from being a high-concept cheap shot, Levine's works from this series elucidate our nostalgic desire to invest historical images with an innocence their contemporary counterparts cannot claim.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil on verso BL: "Sherrie Levine // After Walker Evans 1981"; stamped in ink on verso: "1 1573 [upside down]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 32," May 14, 2002–September 8, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Photographs from the Collection XIV," May 15, 2007–September 30, 2007.
International Center of Photography. "Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art," January 18, 2008–May 4, 2008.