ADAMWEINBERG: Artist Sherrie Levine saw this unusual billiard table in a painting by the American surrealist Man Ray. You can find his 1938 painting, La Fortune, on view on the museum’s fifth floor. Levine was fascinated by the strange bulbous leg of the table visible in Man Ray’s work, and decided to make the table in this surrealist painting, real. She used all the materials one might use to manufacture a table like this: red and white billiard balls, green felt, and finished wood. The three balls are fixed on the table in a position identical to the way they appear in Man Ray’s work. And oddly enough, our experience of finding a pool table in the middle of a gallery recreates the shock and wonder that one often feels looking at surrealist paintings—with their incongruous juxtapositions of objects in unusual settings.
Levine first came to the attention of the art world with objects that appropriated the work of other artists. In some cases, she makes a nearly perfect copy of the original—literally photographing other artists’ photographs or painting their paintings. Levine takes pride and pleasure in the actual making of objects—be they paintings or sculptures. Often titling her work “After” the name of the original, she has no intention of fooling people into thinking the work is her own.
Instead, her work challenges our traditional ideas about artistic ownership. Who owns what image or object? What is the difference between being influenced by a work, and copying it?