Born on February 10, 1942 in New York in the district of the South Bronx, the American artist Lawrence Weiner died in this same city, Thursday, December 2, at the age of 79 years. In 2020, he reported on his fight against cancer. His name has long been inscribed in the art history of the second half of the 20th century.e century as that of one of the main representatives of conceptual art, like Joseph Kosuth.
Self-taught in artistic matters, Weiner recounted in 2019 having been seized by the vision, at MoMA, of the work of Alberto Giacometti The Palace at 4 a.m.. According to another of his stories, in 2013, not being from a bourgeois family, his first relationship with art would have been through the words on the walls:
“Art was wall inscriptions or messages. I grew up in a city where I read the walls; I still read them. “
No doubt this reconstitution of a vocation is too perfect. However, it says the essence of Weiner’s artistic practice: from 1969, his material is not painting or volumes but languages and their writing.
Craters carved out by TNT explosions
Before this resolution, to which he never returned, Weiner traveled across the United States, from 1960, to the Arctic and California where he produced what he considered to be his first exhibition: dug craters by TNT explosions in Mill Valley National Park near San Francisco. Back in New York in 1964, he expressed his refusal to paint with his series of Propeller paintings, which show a television test pattern in various formats and using various methods. He presented them in Seth Siegelaub’s gallery that same year. Without success.
The choice of format and color is given to the recipient of the canvas
The series of Removals, begun soon after, is equally ironic about the painting: Weiner cuts a rectangle out of a canvas, spray paints it evenly, and attaches two strips to it at the top and bottom. The process is rudimentary but above all free from any decision by the artist since the choice of format and color is given to the recipient of the canvas. According to the same principle of strict minimalist reduction, in April 1968, Weiner, invited with Robert Barry and Carl Andre for a group exhibition at Windham College in Vermont, sticks to an installation he titled, in accordance with his material definition , Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf (“Staples, stakes, rope, grass”) and which draws an incomplete grid. The students, little acquainted with minimalism, destroy it.
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