After our makeup class on Friday I was thinking about appropriation art and the Sherrie Levine presentation I gave last year for my History of Contemporary Art class. At the time of the presentation I had a good understanding of appropriation art but after class today it was clear to me that I had forgotten a lot. I reviewed last years’ presentation to help me remember.
Her photo series After Walker Evans (1981) is an appropriation of photographs from the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), authored by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans. Evans was commissioned by the government in 1936 to document the poverty of the Great Depression. The book was widely published and the photos were familiar to people at the time. Levine photographed photos in a catalog to appropriate the photos. The Evans estate saw this as copyright infringement and bought the works to prevent their sale. Now all of the photos are in the MET collection.