This is one of a series of paintings, identical except for the grain of the wood support, in which Levine copied Mr. Austridge from Krazy Kat, a comic strip that ran in American newspapers between 1913 and 1944. The character, an ostrich, avoids the challenges of the world around him by burying his head. Drawn by George Herriman, a cartoonist from a Creole African American family whose death certificate identified him as Caucasian, the cartoon series depicts a love triangle whose protagonists shift gender and color.
Through her repeated appropriation of Herriman’s comic character, Levine questions ideas of originality and authorship. The ostrich itself is open to a range of interpretations; its willful blindness may serve as a metaphorical counterpoint to the conventional notion of painting as a source of unique visual experience. “Every word, every image, is leased and mortgaged,” Levine has claimed. “We know that a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash. A picture is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centers of culture.”
Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010 - September 12, 2011 .