One of the most important artists to emerge during the twentieth century, Artschwager's playful and diverse oeuvre has influenced generations of younger artists by challenging assumptions about perception and the aesthetic, material and spatial experience of art and the everyday. Spanning over forty years, Artschwager's practice explored the mediums of sculpture, painting and drawing in order to understand the relationship between art and objects, and the environment they inhabit.Read More
Artschwager's work is typically characterized by playful and provocative slippages between different media, conflating the visual world of images, which can be apprehended but not physically grasped, and the tactile world of objects. Artschwager applied traditional media including charcoals, acrylics, pastels and paints, to Celotex, a rigid compound board formed from pressed fibers and generally used in construction. Although it has a smooth side, Artschwager executed the image on the texture's reverse, exploiting the rough surface as an active participant that is essential to the work's imagery, expression and meaning, and animates the pictorial surface. Artschwager bordered the portraits with heavy, wooden or mirrored frames, propelling his paintings further into the three-dimensional realm.
Richard Artschwager was born in 1923 in Washington D.C. and died in 2013 in Albany, USA. He first studied chemistry, biology, and mathematics at Cornell University, and then informal art studies under Amedée Ozenfant. In the early 1950s he became involved in cabinet-making, producing simple pieces of custom made furniture. After a ruinous workshop fire at the end of the decade, he began making sculpture using leftover industrial materials, then followed with paintings, drawings, site-specific installation, and photographic-based work.
Selected solo exhibitions include Mart, Rovereto (2019, travelled to Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao), Nouveau musée national de Monaco (2014), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012, travelled to Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Haus der Kunst, Munich and Nouveau musée national de Monaco), Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2003), Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2003, travelled to Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum, Krefeld and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich), Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna (2002), Neues Museum, Nurnberg (2001, travelled to Serpentine Gallery, London), Portikus, Frankfurt (1993, travelled to Lenbachhaus, Munich), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (1988, travelled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Palacio de Velásquez, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf). Group exhibitions include Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2019, 2014, 2009, 2008, 1999), Stedelijk Museum voor Aktuelle Kunst, Gent (2018), Fischer Landau Center for Arts, New York (2017), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015, 2010, 2009), Fondazione Prada, Venice (2014, 2013), Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2011), PS1 MoMA, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (both 2009), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), Smithsonian Museum, New York (2004) and Tate Gallery, London (1998).
Text courtesy Sprüth Magers.
While critics have argued that Richard Artschwager was an artist whose works alternated between Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art, there was little doubt he possessed his own singularity removed from the fray. Whether he chose to work with bewildering banal subject matter or media references to sex and violence, Artschwager maintained the...
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