STURTEVANT: « DOUBLE TROUBLE », MoMA, NEW YORK

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“Sturtevant: Double Trouble” : MoMA – The museum Of Modern Art, New York / Through February 22, 2015.

Première grande rétrospective de l’oeuvre de Sturtevant au MoMA, « Double Trouble » propose plus d’une cinquantaine de pièces majeures de l’artiste américaine, décédée en 2014.

Le travail de Sturtevant se caractérise par ses reprises -ses « repeatings »- d’oeuvres de ses contemporains, une oeuvre entamée en 1964 et qu’elle n’a cessé depuis d’accomplir jusqu’à sa disparition. Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol et tant d’autres artistes contemporains de Sturtevant sont passés dans le filtre sturtevantien, révélant ce que recélait le visible des oeuvres, qu’elle appelait « understructure », dans une appropriation assumée de l’art universel. L’exposition du MoMA résume ainsi 50 ans d’une carrière entamée à l’aube des années 60, oeuvre conceptuelle provocatrice et questionnante, d’une acuité et d’une ironie parfaitement contemporaines. Cette exposition ira ensuite au MoCA de Los Angeles en mars 2015.

Sturtevant (American, 1924–2014) began “repeating” the works of her contemporaries in 1964, using some of the most iconic artworks of her generation as a source and catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art and image culture. Beginning with her versions of works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Sturtevant initially turned the visual logic of Pop art back on itself, probing uncomfortably at the workings of art history in real time. Yet her chameleon-like embrace of other artists’ art has also resulted in her being largely overlooked in the history of postwar American art. As a woman making versions of the work of better-known male artists, she has passed almost unnoticed through the hierarchies of mid-century modernism and postmodernism, at once absent from these histories while nevertheless articulating their structures.

Though her work of the 1960s and 1970s may appear to be simply mimetic exercises in proto-appropriation, Sturtevant is better understood as an artist who adopted style as her medium and took the art of her time as a loose “score” to be enacted. Far more than copies, her versions of Johns’s flags, Warhol’s flowers, and Joseph Beuys’s fat chairs are studies in the action of art that expose aspects of its making, circulation, and canonization. Working primarily in video since 2000, the artist remained deeply engaged with the politics of image production and reception, using stock footage from Hollywood films, television, and advertising to point to the exhaustion built into much of postwar cultural production.

This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey in America of Sturtevant’s 50-year career, and the only institutional presentation of her work organized in the United States since her solo show at the Everson Museum of Art in 1973. Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, the exhibition offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of her career.

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Visuels copyright Estate of H. Sturtevant / MoMA New York

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