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 Allie Mae Burroughs, the wife of an Alabama sharecropper. 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 a high-concept cheap shot, Levine’s works from this series tell the story of our perpetually dashed hopes to create meaning, the inability to recapture the past, and our own lost illusions.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil on verso BR, TR [sideways]: "Sherrie Levine // After Walker Evans", "1/10 // 1981"; stamped in ink, verso TC: "2 514"
Metro Pictures Gallery. "After Walker Evans".
Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle. "Bogus: Counterfeit Images and Contemporary Art," September 4, 2001–October 21, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photography on Photography, from the 1960s to the Present," April 8, 2008–October 19, 2008.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984," April 21, 2009–August 2, 2009.