Artworks
2 Shoes

Media Editor

In the early seventies, fresh out of school, Sherrie Levine moved to Berkeley, CA.

She had some teaching jobs, one all the way in San Jose. Obviously there were a lot less tech bros hogging the freeway back then. On her way to one of her jobs, she would stop at a thrift store every now and then. One day she found a carton with 75 pairs of little black children's shoes. They were only 75 cents a piece -- an offer she couldn't refuse! But, instead of buying just one pair, she bought all of them. She even moved them all the way too New York City in 1975. They were some of her only possessions. Finally, in 1977 she found a way to get rid of them....at a profit.

1975 was the year she met fellow photographer Barbara Ess. Barbara introduced her to Stefan Eins, who was running the Three Mercer Street Store. He was, “Looking for artists who wanted to show things…that weren’t the kind of thing you find in a gallery, but which made reference to the store.” This was of course the perfect place to exhibit the little black shoes and the director loved the idea. They did a show that took place on two weekends where they sold each pair of shoes for two dollars. Funny thing is that Sherrie had just moved to the city and didn't know anybody! As time went on she learned that her shoes had gone into some interesting collections of famous curators and critics. She keeps meeting people, even in Europe, who own a pair! She still receives a lot of requests for shoes, but all of them are gone, except one -- her own pair.

The shoes exhibited at Tate Modern aren’t black though! Demand was so high that in 1992 Parkett Magazine offered to do an edition with Sherrie. She opted to appropriate her own 1977 shoe installation. So meta. Louise Neri, the American editor of Parkett, was excited and hooked Sherrie up with an editor of Vogue Bambini, who hooked her up with an Italian shoe manufacturer. The shoes they made were brown versions of the black ones she thrifted back in California. Once again, the queen of appropriation had outdone herself!