October 21, 2007

Lawrence Weiner's words

"Lawrence Weiner: As Far As The Eye Can See," co-curated by Donna De Salvo, Whitney Museum Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs, and Ann Goldstein, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Senior Curator. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. November 15, 2007-February 10, 2008. At MOCA April-July 2008. In conjunction with the exhibition, Weiner's films and videos will be screened at Anthology Film Archives in New York.

In the NYTimes, Randy Kennedy chats with Lawrence Weiner, whose retrospective opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in November. "40 years ago Mr. Weiner decided that words would serve almost exclusively as raw material for his art: words spoken, sung, painted on walls, printed in books and on matchbooks, stamped on coins or manhole covers or elsewhere....In much that has been written about Mr. Weiner it is this relationship between the work and the viewer that is central, with the artist left all but invisible. And that is just how Mr. Weiner likes it. 'Your personal enlightenment of your personal angst is not a fit subject for art,' he once said. 'It might be a fit subject for literature, or poetry perhaps, but art is about material objects.' So when he was asked to participate in the retrospective, as when he has been asked to do previous ones, he went through what he described as a crisis about whether to agree to the kind of museum show that shines a heroic spotlight on the artist as sage and creator. In the end, though, it didn’t take him long to say yes. 'It really is almost a rhetorical question,' he said. 'Of course you’re going to do it. But you want to question yourself beforehand to make sure you know exactly why.' And what was the answer? He smiled. 'Social pressure.'" Read more.

For LW fans: Bushwick's Pocket Utopia has organized an experimental Lawrence Weiner salon featuring a reading room, a re-creation ("A 36" x 36" Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard From a Wall," 1968) and a text piece. 2 November- 25 November, 2007

On Artnet, blog hating anti-conceptualist Charlie Finch suggests experiencing Weiner's work in the same state of mind Weiner created it. "First, find a small amount of high grade pot. (Or, since drugs are bad for your health and still illegal, imagine that you have found some high grade pot the way you would imagine building the imaginary art delineated in Lawrence Weiner’s instructions). Next, roll up that pot in a joint and light it up and smoke it, or, as I am doing now, pretend to do it. Isn’t fairyland fun? Look at all your imaginary friends!" Read more.

On the other hand, in the NYTimes, Roberta Smith believes Weiner's show should be required viewing, especially for the auction-addicted glitterati. "Driven by the joy of language and quite a bit of humor, Mr. Weiner’s ebullient work asks tough questions about who makes or owns art, where it can occur and how long it lasts. It reminds us that while art and money may have been inextricably entwined throughout most of history, art’s real value is not measured in strings of zeros, high-priced materials or bravura skill, but in communication, experience, economy of means (the true beauty) and, yes, the inspired disturbance of all status quos. It also affirms that art ultimately triggers some kind of transcendence that can only be completed by the viewer. Mr. Weiner has elevated Robert Rauschenberg’s famous dictum — to the effect that “this is art if I say so” — to the more inclusive “this is art if you think so.” His polymorphous efforts create situations in which such thoughts feel not only natural, they feel like our own." Read more.

Other recent Weiner exhibitions:
"Lawrence Weiner," Cristina Guerra, Lisbon, Portugal, April 12 – May 5, 2007.
"Lawrence Weiner: Inherent in the Rhumb Line," National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, March 22 – December 9, 2007.
"If Silence Was," Alfonso Artico, Naples, Italy, September 7, 2006.
"Have & Take Give & Get," Cerealart, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 1 –October 31, 2006.
"And It Can't Go Wrong," Galerie Pietro Sparta, June 2006.
"Lawrence Weiner," Balwag Foundation, Wien, Austria, March 17 – May 27, 2006.