Sturtevant Beat Warhol at his own Game

THE DAILY PIC: The founder of appropriation art took on its godfather.


This is not a work by Andy Warhol – sort of. It is piece called Warhol Flowers, worked on in 1964 and ’65 by the recently deceased appropriation artist known as Sturtevant, now getting a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her signature project was about probing our ideas of authenticity and attribution and the place of the artist in the art experience. This work, one of her very first, is also her magnum opus. That’s because it was done entirely with the complicity of the artist whom Sturtevant was copying; Warhol lent her the silkscreens to make the piece. Warhol himself, working in Factory mode, was all about the issues that preoccupied Sturtevant. She just took his approach to its logical conclusion, and forced him – and us – to confront its consequences. But what’s especially peculiar is that neither Warhol, with his massive production, nor Sturtevant, with her strategic moves, was able to do away with our love of authorship. Reports of the death of the author have been greatly exaggerated.

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