Boy, Do We Love Art History Jokes!

by Karen Archey on June 11, 2009 · 15 comments Events

POST BY KAREN ARCHEY

Karen Archey, Yves Klein, Sherrie Levine, contemporary art, monochrome
Sherrie Levine, Melt Down (After Yves Klein), 1991

We’re not sure if anyone picked up on Sherrie Levine’s subtle art history quip in Daniel Birnbaum’s expansive Italian Pavilion, so we’re going to do what no one should ever attempt: explain the joke to you. Found in a room consisting primarily of Minimalist abstraction, Levine titled her set of monochromes Melt Down (After Yves Klein). For those not in the know, Yves Klein patented his own brand of ultramarine blue, “International Klein Blue,” consisting of azure pigment suspended in clear synthetic resin. Klein’s pigment paintings, usually shortened to IKB, generally fetch anywhere from $500,000 to over $15,000,000.

Karen Archey, Yves Klein, IKB, contemporary art, monochrome
Yves Klein, untitled, 1957, pigment on wood, 3 3/8 x 2 7/8 x 5/8 in. Includes certificate YKB – 5. Sean Kelly Gallery at Art Basel

Pithily titled Melt Down (After Yves Klein), Levine’s set of monochromes poke fun at Yves Klein’s identification with IKB by presenting 8 variously colored canvases. If Yves Klein’s character can be certifiably represented by one color, IKB, Sherrie Levine presents a schizophrenic “melt down” by offering many colors or identities.  Personally, we’re feeling a little black today due to Basel being so expensive!


  • http://jenkinsdothatthing.blogspot.com/ Rondell Jenkins

    Check this out. I wrote some poetry inspired by your entry:

    Painted squares on a wall
    The leafy colors of fall.
    The color blue in plastic.
    Aint this shit fantastic.

    Copyright Rondell Jenkins, Patent Pending

  • http://jenkinsdothatthing.blogspot.com/ Rondell Jenkins

    Check this out. I wrote some poetry inspired by your entry:

    Painted squares on a wall
    The leafy colors of fall.
    The color blue in plastic.
    Aint this shit fantastic.

    Copyright Rondell Jenkins, Patent Pending

  • http://jenkinsdothatthing.blogspot.com/ Rondell Jenkins

    Check this out. I wrote some poetry inspired by your entry:

    Painted squares on a wall
    The leafy colors of fall.
    The color blue in plastic.
    Aint this shit fantastic.

    Copyright Rondell Jenkins, Patent Pending

  • Belvoir

    I guess I missed the “fun” part of what she was poking.

  • Belvoir

    I guess I missed the “fun” part of what she was poking.

  • Belvoir

    I guess I missed the “fun” part of what she was poking.

  • http://www.aids-3d.com Daniel

    But…. Whyyyyyyyy?

  • http://www.aids-3d.com Daniel

    But…. Whyyyyyyyy?

  • http://peterandjoan.wmblogs.net Peter Zimmerman

    I think it’s a really interesting piece, and while I wasn’t at Art Basel, I don’t think Levine really fits in with that scene. While this fits in perfectly with her oeuvre, it seems to me that it’s incongruous with so much of contemporary art, because it’s like a re-configured Modernist reaction to Modernist sentiment. She’s interested in making sensual works with body and presence, but that are also beautiful, and as such I sometimes feel that her work (especially sculptures– I’m thinking the After Brancusi Newborns) is stuck between being postmodern pastiche and modern sensuality.

    I like Karen’s post here, but I guess I feel that the other side is missing– the why Levine fits in (or doesn’t, for that matter), with Art Basel. I don’t think Karen needs to go into anything past the joke, but I would be interested to hear what she thinks of the work in the context of Basel (especially in light of the fact that there is a great amount of postmodern art on the past 2 pages– moreso than I’m used to seeing on AFC!)

  • http://peterandjoan.wmblogs.net Peter Zimmerman

    I think it’s a really interesting piece, and while I wasn’t at Art Basel, I don’t think Levine really fits in with that scene. While this fits in perfectly with her oeuvre, it seems to me that it’s incongruous with so much of contemporary art, because it’s like a re-configured Modernist reaction to Modernist sentiment. She’s interested in making sensual works with body and presence, but that are also beautiful, and as such I sometimes feel that her work (especially sculptures– I’m thinking the After Brancusi Newborns) is stuck between being postmodern pastiche and modern sensuality.

    I like Karen’s post here, but I guess I feel that the other side is missing– the why Levine fits in (or doesn’t, for that matter), with Art Basel. I don’t think Karen needs to go into anything past the joke, but I would be interested to hear what she thinks of the work in the context of Basel (especially in light of the fact that there is a great amount of postmodern art on the past 2 pages– moreso than I’m used to seeing on AFC!)

  • http://peterandjoan.wmblogs.net Peter Zimmerman

    I think it’s a really interesting piece, and while I wasn’t at Art Basel, I don’t think Levine really fits in with that scene. While this fits in perfectly with her oeuvre, it seems to me that it’s incongruous with so much of contemporary art, because it’s like a re-configured Modernist reaction to Modernist sentiment. She’s interested in making sensual works with body and presence, but that are also beautiful, and as such I sometimes feel that her work (especially sculptures– I’m thinking the After Brancusi Newborns) is stuck between being postmodern pastiche and modern sensuality.

    I like Karen’s post here, but I guess I feel that the other side is missing– the why Levine fits in (or doesn’t, for that matter), with Art Basel. I don’t think Karen needs to go into anything past the joke, but I would be interested to hear what she thinks of the work in the context of Basel (especially in light of the fact that there is a great amount of postmodern art on the past 2 pages– moreso than I’m used to seeing on AFC!)

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Karen Archey

    Hi Peter –

    It might be somewhat confusing since I mentioned Basel in the end of the article, but this piece by Levine was actually in the Venice Biennale. As you probably know, the Biennale has a less market-driven reputation so I would think that Levine fits in better there, though I also found a sculpture of hers at Basel. Since a lot of the art at Basel is secondary market stuff and generally uncurated it’s tough to determine what conceptually fits in there at all — unfortunately it seems more like notoriety and/or price tags seems to dictate that. Hope this clears things up a bit.

  • http://www.artfagcity.com Karen Archey

    Hi Peter –

    It might be somewhat confusing since I mentioned Basel in the end of the article, but this piece by Levine was actually in the Venice Biennale. As you probably know, the Biennale has a less market-driven reputation so I would think that Levine fits in better there, though I also found a sculpture of hers at Basel. Since a lot of the art at Basel is secondary market stuff and generally uncurated it’s tough to determine what conceptually fits in there at all — unfortunately it seems more like notoriety and/or price tags seems to dictate that. Hope this clears things up a bit.

  • said alam

    It might be somewhat confusing since I mentioned Basel in the end of the article, but this piece by Levine was actually in the Venice Biennale. As you probably know, the Biennale has a less market-driven reputation so I would think that Levine fits in better there, though I also found a sculpture of hers at Basel. Since a lot of the art at Basel is secondary market stuff and generally uncurated it’s tough to determine what conceptually fits in there at all — unfortunately it seems more like notoriety and/or price tags seems to dictate that. Hope this clears things up a bit.

  • http://jokes said alam

    It might be somewhat confusing since I mentioned Basel in the end of the article, but this piece by Levine was actually in the Venice Biennale. As you probably know, the Biennale has a less market-driven reputation so I would think that Levine fits in better there, though I also found a sculpture of hers at Basel. Since a lot of the art at Basel is secondary market stuff and generally uncurated it’s tough to determine what conceptually fits in there at all — unfortunately it seems more like notoriety and/or price tags seems to dictate that. Hope this clears things up a bit.

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