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List exhibit spotlights Sturtevant's artwork

'Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform)' (1995) is one of several Sturtevant works on display at the List Visual Arts Center. Dancing hours are limited.
'Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform)' (1995) is one of several Sturtevant works on display at the List Visual Arts Center. Dancing hours are limited.
Photo courtesy / Museum f̹r Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main

With "Sturtevant: The Brutal Truth," the List Visual Arts Center presents MIT's first comprehensive museum exhibition by the Paris-based American artist Elaine Sturtevant.

Sturtevant's work, which replicates other artists' work, is said to have caught the eye of the late Andy Warhol for its exacting technique. When someone asked the pop art guru about his own copying process, he supposedly replied, "I don't know. Ask Elaine," according to a 2004 article in the Village Voice.

List Visual Arts Center staff members will conduct a series of gallery talks about the exhibition. LVAC Curator Bill Arning will lead a talk today (June 1) at noon; LVAC Education and Outreach Coordinator Hiroko Kikuchi will conduct tours on June 5 and June 26 at 2 p.m.; and on June 29, LVAC Director Jane Farver will lead a talk at noon.

Sturtevant, a former visiting professor in the MIT Visual Arts Program, is known professionally simply as "Sturtevant."

She has produced replicas of works of art by Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Felix Gonzalez-Torrez and Warhol. Her goal in duplicating the efforts of others, she has said, is to expand the definitions of originality and authorship, to widen the role of the creator and to broaden the meaning and purpose of art.

"My work has nothing to do with 'appropriation,' the refocusing of history, or the death of art, or the negative questioning of originality," Sturtevant said in a catalog essay by Christine Leigh. "Rather, just the opposite. It involves the power and autonomy of originality and the focus and pervasiveness of art."

Sturtevant is involved in all stages of her art production and often teaches herself different artistic techniques to create the "originals." She initially focused on works by such American artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Johns and Warhol.

In the late 1960s, Sturtevant concentrated on replicating works by Joseph Beuys and Duchamp. Since the early 1980s, she has focused on the next generation of artists, including Robert Gober, Anselm Kiefer, Paul McCarthy and Gonzalez-Torres.

"The Brutal Truth" at the List Center consists of selections from the original larger exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany. The MIT community will see "Lichtenstein Hot Dog" (1965/66), "Duchamp Ral̢che" (1967), "Johns Flag Above White Ground" (1967/68), "Warhol Flowers" (1990) and "Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform)" (1995).

The show is accompanied by a set of catalogs designed by Sturtevant and will be on view through July 10.

For more information, call 253-4680 or visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 1, 2005 (download PDF).

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