Sturtevant (1924–2014)

Elaine Sturtevant, better known simply by her surname Sturtevant, passed away today in Paris. Sturtevant—who once described her mission by saying “I create vertigo”—began her career with manual repetitions of works by certain contemporaries, including such artists as Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, Yvonne Rainer, and Andy Warhol. She later moved on to repetitions of artworks of a younger generation—often before their careers were established—spurring critics to ponder the mechanisms that allowed her to identify historically significant artists long before they went on to achieve acclaim. Bruce Hainley, the author of Under the Sign of [sic] (2014), a book about the artist, wrote, “Her various catalytic conversions prove that art can be (at its best?) an impetus for action—aesthetic, cerebral, insurrectionary.”

Sturtevant was awarded a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale, and the Kurt Schwitters prize for lifetime achievement by the Sprengel Museum. Her solo shows took place at venues including the Museum für Moderne Kunst, the Moderna Museet, and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Speaking about her exhibition at the last venue to, she said, “The dynamic force is the razzle-dazzle of thinking. That’s what I did, and that’s what it does. Voilà!” A show of her work is currently on view at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf, and a comprehensive survey of her career, organized by Peter Eleey with Ingrid Langston, is scheduled to open at the Museum of Modern Art in November of this year.