+ Something Below What Above Is
Inv. Nr. 19
Photo: © VBK, Wien, 2011
Born in 1942 in New York City, New York, USA
Lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands & New York City,
New York, USA
Since the end of the sixties, Lawrence Weiner, one of the major personalities of Conceptual art, has been exploring the capacities of language as a sculptural medium and as the primary vehicle for his work. In 1968, he expressed a founding “Statement of Intent”: “(1) The artist may construct the piece. (2) The piece may be fabricated. (3) The piece may 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.]” He thus considers that an artwork does not require formal execution when defined by means of language. This approach has led to a radical redefinition of the relationship between artist, artwork and viewer. Since the seventies, Weiner’s work has mainly consisted in statements made in painted lettering on walls, besides books, films, videos, performances and audio works. His statements often formulate very material ideas or physical action and process. By playing on shape, colour, punctuation and the display of the letters, he explores the interaction between his linguistic structures within the context and its spatial characteristics, which affect the meaning as for Something Above What Below Is + Something Below What Above Is. Some pieces are based on poems, slogans or excerpts of conversation isolated from their context and sometimes relate to cultural and historical references, as in Flags Folded Out of Sight of the Barricade 1789 which is a preparatory design for a word piece relating to the bicentennial of the French Revolution.