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Johann’s Jacket

Marilyn Levine

American, born Canada, 1935 - 2005

Johann’s Jacket, 1990

  • On View

Stoneware, mixed media

Dimensions: 35 × 19 × 7 in. (88.9 × 48.3 × 17.8 cm)

Gift of the C.S. Harding Foundation, 2002.18

Johann's Jacket is typical of the kind of subject matter depicted by Marilyn Levine. Generally, she selected banal, ordinary objects such as suitcases, clothing, purses, and shoes, which have about them an air of the cast-off and forgotten. This jacket, like all of the objects that Levine sculpted, appears to have been worn or used. Its very history is registered in the scuffs and discolorations that she carefully reproduced. By mimicking the surface of leather with clay—a material that is at first soft and malleable then hard and stiff— Levine broke down the traditional barriers between craft and art and challenged the established categories of ceramic objects.As much as it implies the passage of time, the jacket also suggests the presence of a unique individual. What attracted Levine to objects like clothing was the opportunity it afforded her to represent a human subject, albeit indirectly. According to Levine, her work was concerned with recording the "traces" people leave behind in the world. If the form created in Johann's Jacket was the trace of a specific human being, the sculpture as a whole recounts the story of the owner. In other words, Johann's Jacket is as much a portrait of the owner as it is a representation of the object itself.

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