Advertisement

THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

October 16, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

"Oh no, not another appropriationist, simulationist image-stealer," groans a weary seeker of the new, suddenly confronted with faithful copies of Pop era masterworks. "What a bore, but I might as well find out which member of the rerun tribe has put so much energy into duplicating Jasper Johns' collage and encaustic flags, Roy Lichtenstein's comic-book paintings and Claes Oldenburg's plaster food and clothing. Could be Sherrie Levine or Mike Bidlo. Maybe Richard Prince or Jeff Koons has gone into painting. Maybe David Salle has faded into slavish reverence."

None of the above. The audacious copies are by New York artist Elaine Sturtevant and--unless someone dredges up similar examples from the '50s, consciously done to challenge the notion of originality--she appears to be the precursor of a raging trend, a sort of Post-Modernist front woman. The most interesting thing about the work currently on display is that it was done in the '60s and early '70s. The story goes that she got so much grief for making this controversial stuff--long before it was fashionable--that she dropped out and has re-emerged only recently--with this show, and another of new pieces (including Keith Haring copies) in New York. Meanwhile, her followers are art media darlings.

Who got there first is everything to people who care about "progress" and change in art, and you can safely assume that the revival of Sturtevant is bad news to those who have touted her clones. While artists borrowing from other artists is hardly a 20th-Century innovation, the point here is ironic criticism of a belief system and a challenge to art's commercial debasement. This is conceptual art, so who had the idea first is hotly contended. You can bet the next round of art magazines will feature staunch defenses of the copyists-come-lately, full of opaque rhetoric about their original contributions to the current movement. (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, 619 N. Almont Drive, to Oct. 31.)

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|