Whitehot Magazine

November 2007, LAWRENCE WEINER Whitney Museum of American Art, 15 November 2007 - 10 February 2008

November 2007, LAWRENCE WEINER Whitney Museum of American Art, 15 November 2007 - 10 February 2008
Lawrence Weiner (blue shirt, beard) in the woods. (photograph of unknown origin.)

Whitney Museum of American Art
15 November 2007 - 10 February 2008

The exhibition at the Whitney begins with a play of ratios or equations that are combinations of poems and pictorial diagrams:




In “AN ACCUMULATION OF SUFFICIENT ABRASION TO REMOVE ENOUGH OF AN OPAQUE SURFACE TO LET LIGHT THROUGH WITH MORE INTENSITY” (1981) Weiner’s painterly sensibility is apparent. Actually, Lawrence Weiner kind of resembles Camille Pissarro, known as the father of Impressionism. Pissarro was mentor to Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. In Lawrence Weiner’s retrospective, co-curated by Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Ann Goldstein, Senior Curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, he also becomes a father figure to the new order.

Breaking ground through the newest international art vernacular, Lawrence Weiner appeals to artists coming out of much more complex and formal systems than ever before. Since 2005 there has been a departure into more of an interplay with calligraphy and language.

The publication, Avalanche which covered the Soho Art Scene from 1970-1976 put the media into the hands of artists. Willoughby Sharp, the magazine’s publisher and cofounder and Liza Bear introduced Lawrence Weiner in the Spring of 1972. During this time, we see Vito Acconci, Hannah Wilke, Yvonne Rainer, Dennis Oppenheim, Jackie Winsor, Hanne Darboven, Joseph Beuys and Robert Smithson in a newer format than Playboy, Artforum, Rolling Stone or Interview. These artists introduced conceptual, earth, process, word, performance, and multi-media art to the public in a different format than painting and sculpture.

While new kinds of artists were brought into the arena, it also revolutionized the art magazines which up until then had been “paint by number” and “learn to draw” catalogues. It began with the Abstract Expressionists who broke the mold. The art media became over zealous during the Warhol period when commercial art was so intimidating. But, the fashionistas being swept aside, the parallel trend was to continue to make the art world more interactive and continue to draw in a much more astute creatively thinking international community. “A TRANSLATION FROM ONE LANGUAGE TO ANOTHER” (1969) alludes to this.

Carl Andre, Bruce Nauman, Gordon Matta-Clark and Philip Glass were among the many artists who incorporated different sculptural materials into their vocabulary and even the process became part of the dialectic, unlike Jackson Pollack whose drip paintings were the precursors of that philosophy. Nudity in solo performances at Illeana Sonnabend Gallery by such artists as Charlemagne Palestine also lead the way.

Lawrence Weiner began to explore the kaleidoscope of partnering aspects of multi-media art, and engaged it prolifically. In essence, this art form was more fluid in terms of the kinds of communal experiences that international artists were experiencing than static as can be seen in Weiner’s Removal Paintings Series. “A 36" x 36" Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall” (1968), “A Square Removal from a Rug in Use” (1969), and “A Series of Stakes Set in the Ground at Regular Intervals to Form a Rectangle Twine Strung from Stake to Stake to Demark a Grid a Rectangle Removed from this Rectangle” (1968) are examples.

Certainly, Lawrence Weiner’s work personalizes the artist’s own battle with the outside world as compared with classical painting of the past where the artist was a vehicle for the church. Such artists as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venetian 1696-1770) “The Battle of Vercelle” in which Gaius Marius wins over fierce Teutonic tribes in Lombardy in 101 B.C. The tribes of Cimbri has crossed the Alps near Trent and invaded the Veneto. Rome was spared by their lack of familiarity with the warm climate.

On the other hand, “Greatest satisfaction, Sire Harris, was in the writing of my books, and not in what resulted afterwards - except for the sudden importunation of young ladies.” Yours, Ken Kesey, the author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” wrote. We find, today, our society becomes more involved with posturing than in pursuing the deeper meaning. Yet, for many artists, their sensitivity is earth shattering.

The Lawrence Weiner Poster Archive was originally Halifax-based by artist Gerald Ferguson at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) which over the decades received and catalogued posters produced by Weiner as well as exhibited and published them into a comprehensive book of posters, edited by Benjamin H.D. Buchloh in 1986. In 1991, at Weiner’s request, the archive entered the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Lawrence Weiner Poster Archive now includes 290 Posters that have been exhibited widely in North America and Europe.

Since the beginning of his career, Weiner has made many films and videos which will be shown in a series of programs at Anthology Film Archives. Art books were exhibited such as To Build A Square in the Rhineland, [Bent] [Broken Shafts of Light], Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Birgit Jurgenssen, Galerie Dorothea van Der Koelen, Steel Pennies, From Point to Point, Displacement All Fall Down. There were also smaller objects of art such as “ONE PINT GLOSS WHITE LAQUER POURED DIRECTLY UPON THE FLOOR AND ALLOWED TO DRY,” (1968) which was a puddle of whiteness. In addition, what looked like small sculptures created as mementos of his trips abroad such as “Dominoes, Incubus, Succubus,” “Trois Petits Canards, Une Eau De Vie,” “Die Damen (pantyhose) Bose ist Besser Die Damen.”

Lawrence Weiner was born in the Bronx in 1942 and attended New York City Public Schools. He spent the late fifties and early sixties traveling throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The first presentation of his work was in Mill Valley, California in 1960. He divides his time between a studio in New York and a houseboat in Amsterdam.

Finally, Weiner writes that “Art is defined as objects made to resemble another by the addition of a sufficient quantity of external qualities.” Here, language becomes a material, a sculptural practice.” Then, as Ann Goldstein said, “There becomes no art world, only a relationship between objects and people.”
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Claudia Schwalb

Schwalb graduated from Pratt Institute in 1974.  She was an emerging artist during the Minimalist movement in the 1970's.  She was raised in New York City during the Abstract Expressionist era. Claudia was the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at The Clocktower/P.S.1 in 1977.  Claudia went on to write for Barbara Rose's Journal of Art and was one of the Contributing Editors of Cover/Arts New York along with John Yau and Judd Tully (Editor-at-Large for Arts & Auction).  She was Curator of the Knitting Factory and a television news transcriber for Peter Jennings' World News Tonight.  Subsequently, Claudia transcribed two movies, "Refuge" and "Interview with the Dalai Lama" which played at the Quad last year.  claudschwa@aol.com

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