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Lawrence Weiner (American, born 1942)

About this artist

Source: The Museum of Modern Art

Born in New York in 1942, Lawrence Weiner played a pivotal role in the development of Conceptual art in the United States in the 1960s, questioning traditional notions of art and moving away from the art object in favor of a practice based in ideas and actions. Weiner's primary medium is language, yet his artworks are not simply the texts themselves, but rather the content or idea he refers to in his words. His work exists in multiple forms: as written language, as speech, or as a physical manifestation of the content described by the language. This democratic approach to art-making reveals a social ambition. Weiner is interested in art's "use factor," its accessibility, and how it relates to the people who experience it.

The Museum of Modern Art owns several works by Weiner, who, in addition to making artworks that now reside in museums and private collections all over the world, has also produced a range of artist's books, posters, and other multiples.


About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American conceptual artist. Self-taught as an artist, he achieved international recognition for text-based works that arose from his sculptural and painterly experiments of the 1960s. In an early work of this decade, The Stone on the Table (destr.; see Alberro, p. 39), consisting of a limestone block placed on a simple wooden table, Weiner rejected the privilege attached to traditional artisan skills. Such a reappraisal of the relationship between artist and materials was paralleled by a challenge to traditionally privileged relationships between artist and audience. In 1968 he made the first of many books, Statements, which contained 24 terse typewritten descriptions of works only some of which had actually been produced, implying that their realization was entirely dependent on audience subjectivity. From this time Weiner concentrated on language as a material, presenting it as a sculptural object central to his practice. His varied and flexible methods of distribution demonstrate his concern to reach a wide audience, breaching cultural and social barriers. This dissemination has taken the form of posters, books, wall texts, graffiti, videotapes, LPs, compact discs and (in 1996) even a web-site, HOMEPORT (NEED TO KNOW). An important aspect of audience participation in Weiner’s work is site-specificity. In SOME LIMESTONE SOME SANDSTONE ENCLOSED FOR SOME REASON (1993, Halifax, Henry Moore Sculp. Trust Studio) he recast the iron weighbridge of the Dean Clough carpet factory, incorporating the words of the title as an embossing inscription. This complex monument to an industrial heritage, installed in a cultural centre that replaced a redundant factory, ironically points to the impermanence of social structures. Lying flat, set into the ground, it questions the place of public monuments and memorials, an increasingly important concern in Weiner’s work.

John-Paul Stonard
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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