Known for being a pioneer of conceptual art using language as his material, Lawrence Weiner (* 1942, lives in Amsterdam and New York) ranks among the world’s foremost and relevant contemporary artists working today. His work TO THE LAKE has been described as “Zürich’s most important contribution to public space.” Weiner has shown his work internationally since he first participated in Harald Szeemann’s legendary exhibition “When Attitudes Become Form” at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. Lawrence Weiner has been represented by Mai 36 Galerie since 1988.
In Switzerland, Lawrence Weiner’s work is well known; he has exhibited at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, at the Kunsthalle Bern, at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, on the Furka Pass and in Zürich, to name but a few venues. In 2007, the work BALL BEARINGS OR ROUND STONES MADE TO ROLL OUTSIDE OF WHAT THERE IS was given to the city of Zürich on permanent loan. It is set into the ground in three locations: in English at Bellevue, in German at Limmatplatz (KUGELLAGER ODER RUNDE STEINE ZUM ROLLEN GEBRACHT AUSSERHALB WAS IST), and in Italian at Helvetiaplatz (CUSCINETTI A SFERA O CIOTTOLI LEVIGATI FATTI ROTOLARE AL DI FUORI DA CIÒ CHE È).
Weiner’s artistic materials comprise language in combination with other elements such as time, steel and stone. It is with these materials that he represents the subject matter of his art. His works (Statements) may be read as descriptions of facts but equally as instructions for action. As a rule, his language works refer to the object world, frequently describing physical processes, acts and places; they reveal the relationships of human beings to objects in relation to human beings, who, as the artist says, “use the products we place in the world on their own terms.” In Weiner’s Statements, we find ourselves responding to tactile experiences traditionally associated with the field of sculpture. Art of the 1960s substantially stretched the conventional boundaries of sculpture, and the use of language as the material of art added vast, entirely new dimensions to the sculptural experience. Weiner has created not only a new type of work but also a new recipient.
His statement of intent, formulated in 1968, has been a steady companion to his work ever since:
1. THE ARTIST MAY CONSTRUCT THE WORK
2. THE WORK MAY BE FABRICATED
3. THE WORK NEED NOT BE BUILT
EACH BEING EQUAL AND CONSISTENT WITH THE INTENT OF THE ARTIST THE DECISION AS TO CONDITION RESTS WITH THE RECEIVER UPON THE OCCASION OF RECEIVERSHIP
Thanks to the precision with which Weiner pinpointed the newly emerging character of the work of art and the changing role of the viewer, this declaration substantially impacted the meaning of art in the latter 1960s. The authorial role of the artist gave way to the role of the recipient as an active participant in the construction of the work.
Mai 36 Galerie is showing new works by Lawrence Weiner, including BROUGHT TO TOUCH, which will also be on view in the Art Public Sector of Art Basel.