American artist Louise Lawler's practice critically points towards the institution of art and artmaking, creating photography that calls into question its own forms and contexts.Read More
Lawler was born in Bronxville, New York. She received her BFA from Cornell University in 1969. Lawler is a prominent figure in the Pictures Generation, a group of American artists that critically analysed media culture in the 1970s. Other figures of this movement include Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, and Barbara Kruger.
In 1972, Lawler created Birdcalls, a sound work in which she spoke the names of famous male artists in the form of bird songs. This work, which served to mock the privilege and recognition given to male artists at the time, featured names such as Vito Acconci, Donald Judd, and Sol LeWitt.
Much of Louise Lawler's artistic practice has taken place within the realm of institutional critique, as she often uses her work to examine the context of artmaking, an artist's life and sphere of influence, as well as the operations of the art world.
In the early 1980s, Lawler began photographing other artists' works displayed in museums, private collections, storage spaces, and auction houses as a means to question the value of art. In 1984, she was given access to the home of collectors Burton and Emily Tremaine and took photographs of their collection. One of these photographs is Pollock and Tureen, Arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Connecticut (1984), where Lawler puts focus on a decorated soup bowl that sits in front of a Jackson Pollock painting.
Does Andy Warhol Make You Cry? (1988) is a photograph of Andy Warhol's painting Round Marylin (1962), taken at a Christie's preview before it was sold at auction. Lawler installs this photograph true to scale, including the auction house's label.
In Fragment, Frame, Text "Reportedly He Worked As A Pastry Cook" (1989), Lawler zooms in on the exhibition text beside a Claude Lorrain painting. This photograph only shows a fragment of Lorrain's landscape, putting the text to the fore of the work.
Lawler titled her major 2004 survey at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel Lawler and others as an acknowledgement of the works and artists included in her photographs.
Lawler often revisits her photographs when they are re-exhibited by adjusting their size. For her 'Adjusted to Fit' series, she changes the scale and dimensions of the original image to fit the size requirements of its new location.
In 2014, Lawler's work Triangle (adjusted to fit) (2008/2009/2011) was shown on a billboard facing the High Line in New York City. The photograph was taken at Sotheby's New York and featured the work of conceptual minimalist artists Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, and Frank Stella.
Louise Lawler has been widely exhibited locally and internationally. She has held solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum for Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Portikus, Frankfurt; Dia Art Foundation, New York; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK), Vienna; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Her work has been collected by institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2022