Friday, April 08, 2016

Sculpture as Concept

“The body is going but the mind is okay, so I will just keep using it.
When it goes I’ll be the last to notice.” 
Lawrence Weiner

The 73-year-old American artist Lawrence Weiner is widely referred to as “a seminal Conceptual artist.” It is a label he dislikes.

As he explained to The Art News Paper’s Louisa Buck “The Conceptual artist moniker makes no sense to me. I don’t like the term. I think it was created by some people who wanted to make sure their work was differentiated from other artists. Why not just say Sculptor? I never quite understand why the shit hits the fan when sculpture is presented in the form of language.”

A point he expounded upon with Dazed Magazine’s Harry Thorne “In relation to sculpture, there’s some kind of miscomprehension that inevitably sculpture is static. In fact, it’s not, it can and will affect things. It gets back to the old Ad Reinhardt thing: you can tell it’s sculpture because when you turn off the lights you trip on it. And anything I make, you can push it out the way but if you remember it, the concept itself, you’ll trip on it – one hopes.

And it is a hope that shops worldwide. As the New York Time’s art critic Roberta Smith said of Weiner’s Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2007 retrospective As Far as the Eye Can SeeHe folds together the skills of a Russian Constructivist graphic designer, a Socratic philosopher, a Dada-Fluxus joker, a Concrete poet and a Madison Avenue ad executive with an astute sense of both semiotics and public display.”

Which he presents as cryptic and/or suggestive phrases often with witty twist over walls, ceilings and floors that leaves or even demands the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks. A situation that puts Weiner at odds with the commercial art market as he ignores the production and manufacture of salable objects.

About which he has said “I don’t have a problem with this, and so I ended up with genteel poverty as a choice… We should not confuse the conversation of the art world with the art market… when that becomes the playing field, then the conversation turns into who’s better than who, or who has more value, when the conversation should be about who has more use.”

Weiner’s current exhibition Made to Be is on show at Los Angeles’ Regan Projects until the 7th of May.

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