Sturtevant receiving the Golden Lion in Venice in 2011 - Photo by Marco Secchi

Elaine Sturtevant /   Elaine Frances Horan

United States 1924 - 2014

Conceptual Art, Appropriation Art, Neo-dada

Elaine Sturtevant
Elaine Frances Horan
United States
August 30, 2016

Reconstructing only from the memory some of the iconic artworks, Elaine Sturtevant achieved recognition for these repetitions borrowed from the other artists, challenging the ideas of originality and ownership. Creating in the realms of Neo-Dada, Conceptual, and Appropriation Art, her works are not merely copies, considering her aim was not to achieve pure duplicate. Instead, Sturtevant exploited her extraordinary memory and using a mimicry she actually explored “the silent power of art” or appearances beyond its surface, striving to reveal the underlying conceptual structure of the artwork. From 2000, the artist turned to film and video, advertising and internet-based images with the aim of producing reflections of our visually saturated culture.

 Her pieces included comprehensive search of paintings of andy warhol, the both that have been on view at gallery and museum exhibition and at his home and store
Elaine Sturtevant – Warhol Diptych, 1973-2004 – Image via

Early Career and Struggle for Recognition

Sturtevant was born in 1924 in Lakewood, Ohio. She gained her education at the University of Iowa earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and master’s at the Teachers College of Colombia University. She has also studied at the Art Students League in NY. The first years of her artistic life in NY were marked by the use of reproductions of the works of her contemporaries which she did for the first time in 1964, achieving the pieces that could be identified as an original and intriguing the viewer to ask himself what is he looking at. She had no problem to appropriate some of the most iconic artworks, exploring the issues of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art and image culture. Inverting the visual logic of Pop Art, she created her versions of Andy Warhol’s Flowers, Jasper Johns’ Flags and Frank Stella’s Black and Grey paintings, following the same approach later after moving to Paris, when she processed works of Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and Anselm Kiefer [1]. Although at the beginning the artist has been faced with hostility, some artists she borrowed from were not angry, but even helped her by giving her instructions and showing technique to create better copies. As the woman who imitates her male colleagues, Sturtevant passed unnoticed in the history of postwar American art. But, the fact is that her imitations were much more than just copies, they were studies and analyses of chosen works and Sturtevant’s style should be comprehended as the medium for the better understanding of art.

At the beginning, her work was accepted as a wit and interesting way to encourage the viewer to ask epistemological questions. Sturtevant’s first solo exhibition has been held in 1965 at the Bianchini Gallery in NY where she showed, beside Jasper John’s flags, Oldenburg’s soft sculptures, and a Rosenquist drawing, Warhol’s Flowers, a series of silk-screen prints that he revealed to the audience a few weeks before [2]. Constantly facing the misunderstanding, Sturtevant decided to take a break from art in 1974 and for the next ten years, she produced little, re-emerging in 1986 with an exhibition at White Columns in NY when the world apparently was better prepared for her. The understanding of her ideas lies in the relationship between repetition and difference – or how to make people look beyond the surface. As the artist herself said: “The work is done predominantly from memory, using the same techniques, making the same errors and thus coming out in the same place.”

Sturtevant’s imitations were much more than just copies, they were studies and analyses of chosen artworks

 During the 1960s she appropriated warhol and duchamp having exhibition in gallery and museum spaces
Elaine Sturtevant – Warhol Flowers, 1969-70 – Image via

European Years

In 1990, Sturtevant decided to leave the United states and move to Europe. It was a kind of escape from the place where people had mostly negative reactions to her approach, including the artists whose work she appropriated. Unlike in her country, European museums welcomed her work, devoting her exhibitions. In 2000, she shifted her interests to film and video, advertising and internet-based images, exploring the current culture overladen with pictures. Instead of repeating other people’s works, she focused on the constant repetitiousness of experience in the post-internet age. During the last few years, there has been a drastically increased interest in her work which became the subject of numerous shows including the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Kunsthalle, Zurich, the Serpentine Galleries in London, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm which organized the retrospective in 2012 named Sturtevant: Image Over Image. Commenting her creative expression in this new age, the artist said: “What is currently compelling is our pervasive cybernetic mode, which plunks copyright into mythology, makes origins a romantic notion, and pushes creativity outside the self. Remake, reuse, reassemble, recombine – that’s the way to go.” [3] From the 1980’s when appropriation became usual and widely accepted technique among young artists, Sturtevant’s work has found its true recognition making a powerful influence on these new generations.

In 2000, Sturtevant shifted her interests to film and video, advertising and internet-based images

 store ” Her installation and similar pieces search the inspiration in post internet age and her home
Elaine Sturtevant – Double Trouble, Installation view, MoMA, NY, 2015 – Image via

Remaining Faithfull to the Same Ideas

The essence of her work has not been changed for more than five decades, reflection, thinking, and analysis were present in her paintings from the 1960s to the latest videos and installations. For the last two decades, she was truly dedicated to the research of current events, focusing on the political implications of cultural images that were shown through her multi-screen video works. Sturtevant died on May 7, 2014, in Paris where she lived and worked since the early 1990’s. She was awarded The Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2011. In 2007, an original Crying Girl by Roy Lichtenstein sold at auction for $78,400, and in 2011, Sturtevant’s canvas reworking of Crying Girl, the only Sturtevant painting of its kind in existence, sold for $710,500.

The artist is represented by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.


  1. Anonymous. E. Sturtevant, Wikipedia [August 30, 2016]
  2. Fox, M. (2014) E. Sturtevant, Who Borrowed Others’ Work Artfully, Is Dead at 89, New York Times [August 30, 2016]
  3. Obrist, H.U. (2014) E. Sturtevant obituary, The Guardian [August 30, 2016]

Featured image: E. Sturtevant receiving the Golden Lion in Venice in 2011 – Photo by Marco Secchi

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Co–thinkersGarage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscownuntil 06 Nov 2016Group
2016Solo WalksEine Galerie des Gehens - Bündner Kunstmuseum ChurGroup
2016Ordinary PicturesWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2016Sturtevant Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac - ParisSolo
2016Sturtevant - Kill StupidityAir de ParisSolo
2016ImagesKunsthalle Fridericianum, KasselGroup
2016Life Itself Moderna Museet, StockholmGroup
2016L’image voléeFondazione Prada, MilanGroup
2015Sturtevant - Drawing Double ReversalAlbertina, ViennaSolo
2015The Appropriationnist (Against And With)Villa du Parc - Centre d'Art Contemporain, AnnemasseGroup
2015Sturtevant. Drawing Double ReversalHamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, BerlinoSolo
2015Sturtevant: Double TroubleMOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CASolo
2014The Illusion of Light - Palazzo GrassiFrancois Pinault Foundation, VeneziaGroup
20141984-1999. La DécennieCentre Pompidou-Metz, MetzGroup
2014Soleil politique - The museum between light and shadowMUSEION - Museum für moderne und zeitgenössische Kunst , BolzanoGroup
2014Heuristic, numen and the scandal of self-contradictionxavierlaboulbenne, BerlinoGroup
2014Sturtevant - Drawing Double ReversalMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Francoforte sul MenoSolo
2014Sturtevant: Double TroubleMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York, NYSolo
2014Sturtevant - ReloadedGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Paris, ParigiSolo
2014In These Great TimesKunstnernes Hus, OsloGroup
2013Novecento Mai Visto - Highlights from the Daimler Art CollectionFrom Albers to Warhol to (now) - Museo di Santa Giulia, BresciaGroup
2013Sturtevant - Finite Infinite356 Mission, Los Angeles, CASolo
2013Second reflection symmetrical contentsChelsea space, LondraSolo
2013Ambach & Rice PresentsDaniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2013Ausweitung der Kampfzone. Die Sammlung. 1968-2000Neue Nationalgalerie, BerlinoGroup
2013Curated By_Vienna 2013: Why Painting Now?Cover-Up - Krinzinger Projekte, ViennaGroup
2013Déjà-vu? Die Kunst der Wiederholung von Dürer bis YouTubeStaatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe,KarlsruheGroup
2013Sturtevant - Finite Infinite365 Mission, Los Angeles, CASolo
2013Gnadenlos – Künstlerinnen und das KomischePaula Modersohn-Becker Museum, BremaGroup
2013Sturtevant - Leaps Jumps And BumpsSerpentine Gallery, LondraSolo
2012Micro ManiaGagosian Gallery, ParigiGroup
2012Flower PowerGalerie ABTART, StoccardaGroup
2012How do it know?Essex Street, New York, NYGroup
2012Sturtevant - Image over ImageModerna Museet, StoccolmaSolo
2012Sturtevant - Solo ShowGavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, NYSolo
2012L’abÉcÉdaire De DeleuzeGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Paris, ParigiSolo
2012Sturtevant: Duchamp Bicycle Wheel (1969-1973)Henry Moore Institute, LeedsSolo
2012Sturtevant - Solo ExhibitGavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, NYSolo
2012Sturtevant «Image over Image»Kunsthalle Zürich, ZurigoSolo
2012The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TXGroup
2012Déjà-vu? Die Kunst der Wiederholung von Dürer bis YouTubeStaatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe,KarlsruheGroup
2011MMK 1991-2011: 20 Jahre GegenwartMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Francoforte sul MenoGroup
2011Sentimental EducationGavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, FLGroup
2011In Praise of DoubtFrancois Pinault Foundation, VeneziaGroup
2011Elogio del dubbioPalazzo Grassi - Francois Pinault Foundation, VeneziaGroup
2011Biennale di Venezia - 54th International Art ExhibitionLa Biennale di Venezia, VeneziaGroup
2011BillboardsGavin Brown's Enterprise, New York, NYGroup
2011Rollenbilder - RollenspieleMuseum der Moderne, SalisburgoGroup
2011The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973 – 1991Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NCGroup
2011Hirschfaktor - Die Kunst des ZitierensZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, KarlsruheGroup
2011A Darkness More Than NightQUAD Gallery, DerbyGroup
2011The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure The Signs Of Power, 1973-1992Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NYGroup
2010Funktionen der ZeichnungMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Francoforte sul MenoGroup
2010Elastic TangoAnthony Reynolds Gallery, LondraSolo
2010Pop Life - Warhol, Haring, Koons, Hirst, … Hamburger Kunsthalle, AmburgoGroup
2010Seven Deadly SinsIKON Ltd, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2010Saw it, Loved itMuseum Ludwig, ColoniaGroup
2010Dillinger Running SeriesGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac - Salzburg, SalisburgoSolo
2010Sturtevant: Vertical MonadGalerie NEU, BerlinoSolo
2010Sturtevant - The Razzle Dazzle of ThinkingMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM ARC, ParigiSolo
2010The Way it Wasn't (Celebrating ten years of castillo corrales, Paris)Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, MNGroup
20108th Gwangju Biennale - 10,000 LivesGwangju Biennale, GwangjuGroup
2010L'esprit du jeuGyeongnam Art Museum, Gyeongsangnam-doGroup
2010Pop Life: Art in a Material WorldNational Gallery of Canada - Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa, ONGroup
2010Agents & ProvocateursHMKV - Hartware MedienKunstVerein, DortmundGroup
2010Seconde mainMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris - MAM ARC, ParigiGroup
2009Seeing Is BelievingIKON Ltd, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2009The Quick and the DeadWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2009Palais des MiragesMönchehaus Museum Goslar, GoslarGroup
200953nd International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale Biennale di VeneziaLa Biennale di Venezia, VeneziaGroup
2009Audio, video, disco Kunsthalle Zürich, ZurigoGroup
2009Rip-Off: Between Appropriation and the AppropriatedArmand Bartos Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
2009Pop Life: Art in a Material WorldTate Modern, LondraGroup
2009Just what is it…ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, KarlsruheGroup
2009Blow JobAir de Paris, ParigiSolo
2009Die Kunst ist super!Museum für Gegenwart, BerlinoGroup
2008Blasted AllegoriesKunstmuseum Luzern, LucernaGroup
2008WACK!: Art and the Feminist RevolutionMoMA PS1, New York, NYGroup
2008MAXIminFundación Juan March, MadridGroup
2008Paper weightMehdi Chouakri, BerlinoGroup
2008Elaine SturtevantLe Consortium, DigioneSolo
2008Manifesto MarathonSerpentine Gallery, LondraGroup
2008WACK! Art and the Feminist RevolutionVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BCGroup
2008An unruly history of the readymadeGaleria Jumex, Messico CityGroup
2008Now and Forever, Part IIMatthew Marks Gallery - 522 West 22th Street, New York, NYGroup
2008VERTICAL MONADAnthony Reynolds Gallery, LondraSolo
2008Standard SizesAndrew Kreps Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Grids, Lines and Boxes (and other Variations on Straight Lines)IKON Ltd, Santa Monica, CAGroup
2007Group ShowAnthony Reynolds Gallery, LondraGroup
2007The Exterior of the InteriorGalerie Mezzanin, ViennaSolo
2007WACK! Art and the Feminist RevolutionNational Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DCGroup
2007Good Morning, MidnightCasey Kaplan Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2007KlioZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, KarlsruheGroup
2007Before (Plus ou moins)Palais de Tokyo, ParigiGroup
2007SchönwahnsinnigSchloss Gottorf, SchleswigGroup
2007WACK! - Art And The Feminist RevolutionThe Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2007ZEIT: ZEITMehdi Chouakri, BerlinoGroup
2006Sturtevant - Dillinger Running SeriesSITE Galerie, DüsseldorfSolo
2006Whitney Biennial 2006 - Day for NightWhitney Biennial, New York, NYGroup
2006Review - videos from the Pierre Huber collectionMAGASIN - Centre National d’art Contemporain de Grenoble, GrenobleGroup
2006Group ShowGalerie Mezzanin, ViennaGroup
2006On Second ThoughtPerry Rubenstein Gallery - 527 West 23 Street, New York, NYGroup
2006Twice Drawn The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College,Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2006The Gold StandardMoMA PS1, New York, NYGroup
2005Joy - Casino LuxembourgForum d'art contemporain, LussemburgoGroup
2005BlumenstückMuseum Morsbroich, LeverkusenGroup
2005Spirit of... DADAGalerie Herve Bize, NancyGroup
2005Truer Than The TruthAnthony Reynolds Gallery, LondraGroup
2005Just do it!Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz, LinzGroup
2005Peter Blake - Sylvie Fleury - Malcolm Morley - George Segal - SturtevantMamco - musée d´art moderne et contemporain, GinevraGroup
2004Before the end - Part I Le Consortium, DigioneGroup
2004Wer bietet mehr?Deichtorhallen Hamburg, AmburgoGroup
2004Elaine Sturtevant - The Brutal TruthMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Francoforte sul MenoSolo
2003The DaimlerChrysler CollectionZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe,KarlsruheGroup
2003IshtarMidway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2003Das lebendige MuseumMuseum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Francoforte sul MenoGroup
2003Influence, Anxiety, and GratitudeMIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MAGroup
2003After shockDickinson Roundell Inc., New York, NYGroup
2003ReProduktion 2Georg Kargl Fine Arts & Georg Kargl Box, ViennaGroup
2003Living with DuchampThe Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2002Minimalism and After Daimler Contemporary, Berlino Group
2002Sturtevant - drawings from the sixtiesGalerie Daniel Blau, Monaco di BavieraSolo
2002Elaine Sturtevant - Solo ShowNBK - Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, BerlinoSolo
2002Kunst nach KunstWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, BremaGroup
2002Private CorporateDaimler Contemporary, Berlino Group
2002Manifeste, oder: Ergriffenheit - Was ist das?Galerie Daniel Blau, Monaco di BavieraGroup
2001Ornament und AbstraktionFondation Beyeler, RiehenGroup
2001Ce qu'il te plaît 2Mamco - musée d´art moderne et contemporain, GinevraGroup
2001TradeFotomuseum Winterthur, WinterthurGroup
2001Candice Breitz Claude Closky Elaine Sturtevant Martin Walde Erwin WurmGalerie Mezzanin, ViennaGroup
2001Oh cet écho ! (Duchampiana) 2Mamco - musée d´art moderne et contemporain, GinevraGroup
1999Oh cet écho ! (duchampiana)Mamco - musée d´art moderne et contemporain, GinevraGroup
1999Originale echt falschWeserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, BremaGroup
1999Apropos of Marcel DuchampCurt Marcus Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1999Sturtevant - Casino LuxembourgForum d'art contemporain, LussemburgoSolo
1999Sturtevant - Duchamp 1200 Coal Bags et autres pièces1992 - Mamco - musée d´art moderne et contemporain, GinevraSolo