Elaine Sturtevant

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Elaine Sturtevant, also known simply as "Sturtevant", is an American artist who was born in 1930 in Lakewood, Ohio.[1] She has achieved recognition for her appropriation (art) works that consist entirely of copies of other artists' works. She lives and works in Paris.[2]


Sturtevant was born in Lakewood, Ohio (USA) and made the first years of her life working in New York where she began in 1965 to manually reproduce paintings and objects created by her contemporaries with results that can immediately be identified with an original.[3] Sturtevant thus turns the concept of originality on its head. All of her works are copies of the works of other artists; none is an original. She initially focused on works by such American artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol.[4] Sturtevant copied Warhol's silkscreens so often that Warhol himself, when bombarded with questions about his working practice, once said, "I don't know. Ask Elaine." [5] Indeed, Sturtevant's mastery of copying other artist's work was so great that in 1965 a Jasper Johns flag painting that formed part of Robert Rauschenberg's combine “Short Circuit” was stolen, so Rauschenberg commissioned Sturtevant to paint a reproduction of Johns’s flag.[6] 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 Felix Gonzalez-Torres. She masters painting, sculpture, photography and film in order to produce a full range of copies of the works of her chosen artists. In most cases, her decision to start copying an artist happened before those artists achieved broader recognition. Nearly all of the artists she chose to copy are today considered iconic for their time or style. This has given rise to discussions amongst art critics on how it has been possible for Sturtevant to identify these now famous artists at such an early stage.

In 1991, Sturtevant presented an entire show consisting of her repetition of Warhol’s ‘Flowers’ series.

Her later works mainly focus on reproductions in the digital age. Sturtevant commented on her work at her 2012 retrospective Sturtevant: Image over Image at the Moderna Museet: "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." [7]


Sturtevant had her first her solo show in 1965 at the Bianchini Gallery.[8]

Solo exhibition of her work have since been shown at:


In 2008 Sturtevant was awarded the Francis J. Greenburger Award.[12]

On June 4, 2011, Sturtevant received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 54th Venice Biennale.[13]

In September 2013, she was awarded the Kurt Schwitters Prize for Lifetime Achievement by the Sprengel Museum.[14]


  • Anne Dressen et al. Sturtevant - The Razzle Dazzle of Thinking (Paris: Paris Musées, 2010).
  • Lena Maculan (Ed.). Sturtevant. Catalogue Raisonné (Frankfurt/Main: Museum für Moderne Kunst and Ostfildern Ruit: Hatje-Cantz, 2005).
  • Bruce Hainley. Sturtevant: Shifting Mental Structures (Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2002).
  • Rikard Ekholm. Identical, But Still Different: On Artistic Appropriation in Visual Art" (Dissertation. Uppsala University: The Department of Philosophy).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Elaine Sturtevant" 032c, Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  2. ^ Sturtevant Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg.
  3. ^ Sturtevant: Raw Power, 3 March 2007 - 7 April 2007 Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg.
  4. ^ Searle, Adrian. "Elaine Sturtevant: queen of copycats" The Guardian, Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  5. ^ Hainley, Bruce. "Erase and Rewind" Frieze Magazine, Retrieved 8 March 2014
  6. ^ Carol Vogel (June 9, 2011), Now Starring in Chicago, a Prime Rauschenberg New York Times.
  7. ^ Sturtevant, Elaine. "Sturtevant" Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  8. ^ Bruce Hainley, Erase and Rewind: Elaine Sturtevant Frieze, Issue 53, June–August 2000.
  9. ^ [1] Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  10. ^ [2] Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  11. ^ [3] Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Past Awards: 2008" Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  13. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia Golden Lion 2011"
  14. ^ "Sturtevant" Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Retrieved 8 March 2014.