Lawrence Weiner’s Concept Art Movement Godfather Dies
Lawrence Weiner, one of the main sponsors of the conceptual art movement, has died at the age of 79. Born on February 10, 1942, he was one of the central figures in the formation of conceptual art in the 1960s. His work often took the form of typographic texts, a form of word art.
His gallery, Lisson, issued the following statement: “An influential artist and a pioneer in his craft, Lawrence Weiner was the producer of many textual works that manifested themselves as public works of art, slogans on walls, t-shirts and manholes. blankets; indeed, they could transform any imaginable surface. Best described as thought sculptures, Weiner defined his sculptural medium simply as “the language + the material referred to”, in the sense that language is a building material. As a result, his first book Statements (1968) contains 24 descriptions of typewritten works, of which only a few have been made, suggesting that the existence of a work requires a readership rather than a physical presence.
Here is an example :
1. THE ARTIST CAN BUILD THE WORK
2. THE PART CAN BE MANUFACTURED
3. THE ROOM DOES NOT NEED TO BE CONSTRUCTED
EACH ONE BE EQUAL AND CONSISTENT WITH THE ARTIST’S INTENT THE DECISION
AS TO THE CONDITION REPOSED WITH THE RECIPIENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE RECEPTION.
LAWRENCE WEINER, STATEMENT OF INTENT, 1968
Before arriving at his instantly recognizable style of carefully composed word-sculptures and distinctive typeface, Weiner experimented with the media and materials of late minimalism, producing landmark works such as THE REMOL FROM THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OR WALL BOARD FROM A WALL (1968) which he produced for the Lisson Gallery group exhibition in 1970, “The Wall Show”, organized by Nicholas Logsdail, as well as for “When Attitude Become Forms”, organized by Harald Szeeman .
Self-taught as an artist, his urgency in making art accessible and engaging stems, he says, from his childhood in the South Bronx: “I didn’t have the advantage of a middle-class perspective. Art was something else; the art was the notes on the wall, or the messages left by other people. I grew up in a city where I had read the walls; I always read the walls. I like to put my work on the walls and let people read it. Some will remember it, then someone else will come and put something else on it. It becomes archeology rather than history. (2013)
In a 2020 interview with Kim Gordon for Interview Magazine, Weiner made some profound statements about the definition, utility, and generative nature of art: “A lot of people have been able to copy what I’ve done, and it’s good. That’s what art is for. Art is for the use of people… Art is people who saw the configuration and were not satisfied with it and went to change the configuration of our way of looking at objects.
The cause of death was not stated, although he said in an interview in 2020 that he was undergoing treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.
“We offer our deepest condolences to his family, especially his wife Alice and daughter Kirsten.”
Photo by Philip-Daniel Ducasse courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
Lawrence Weiner Facilitates Large Textual Interventions at Blenheim Palace