Louise Lawler Portrait 1982

Louise Lawler, Portrait, 1982

 

Louise Lawler (*1947) is a key figure of the Pictures Generation of appropriation art. At the heart of her body of work are photographs of other artists’ works as displayed in museums, storage spaces, auction houses, and collectors’ homes. She uses photography as a conceptual tool and way of directing attention to things that are tacit and unspoken—the constraints, rules, and economies of the loose system that governs the art world. The Brooklyn-based artist has been associated with the gallery since 1987.

 

Read more

Lawler’s critical take on the art world was already apparent in the conceptual and performative interventions of her early work. One example is her well-known Birdcalls (1972–1981), for which the artist sounded out the names of regularly exhibited contemporary artists including Julian Schnabel, Gerhard Richter, and Donald Judd, all of whom were men. With calculated wit, the calls that Lawler herself performed pointed to the blatant patriarchal hegemony of the art world.

In the late 1970s, Lawler incorporated photography into her art practice and shifted her focus to the vagaries of the aesthetic experience of existing works of art. She adopted certain principles of conceptual art—involving the viewer as a participant in the work, for example, or refusing to produce further objects—and refined and expanded on them. Lawler’s highly complex photographs have repeatedly managed to examine the conditions of the exhibition, reception, and circulation of artworks, thereby analyzing their fate as things, their lives as objects. Her works give insight into how the meaning of the photographed works changes with their respective environments, forms of presentation and exhibition history. They make visible their transformation into objects of financial investment and highlight how the public interest inherent to any work of art clashes with its entry into mostly private art collections.

It isn’t just in her photographic work that Lawler explores art’s economic regime down to its smallest, seemingly banal details. She also continues to produce ephemera including matchbooks, gift certificates, postcards, posters, and souvenirs such as drinking glasses or paperweights. Invoking her signature, subtle humor, she underscores how the art apparatus relies on a loose network of advertising materials and other articles that help determine how an artwork is recognized and valued.

The artist never leaves any doubt that the only reason she is able to analyze art’s contradictory system is because she herself participates in it to a certain extent. It is in this spirit that she also questions the iconic quality of some of her own works by continuously reframing and restaging them. In an act of ironic self-emptying, she transforms some of her best-known photographs into what she calls “tracings”—black-and-white coloring book templates that are affixed to the wall as wallpaper or in some cases directly appear in a kind of “coloring book.” These wall-mounted works consist of digitally altered images of a number of her photographs that have been stretched or altered to match the proportions of exhibition walls, and thus appear distorted. Other more recent works are characterized by a socio-political dimension, a timely urgency. Pieces including Drop Bush not Bombs (2001–03), Where Is the Nearest Camera? (2007), or No Drones (2010–11) take a firm, critical stance on American war and surveillance policies without leaving the terrain of art.

Over the course of her career, Lawler has created an impressive archive that documents the rapid transformation of the art world and its turn towards neoliberal economies of attention and speculative interests. In contrast to works within the traditional movement of institutional critique, the artist’s oeuvre refrains from passing judgment and noticeably leaves room for ambiguities. What’s more, by re-staging them in a new exhibition context, she often restores some of the original aura and aesthetic autonomy to the artworks she portrays. Through her probing examination of context and value in contemporary art, Lawler has expanded conventional criticism of the institutions and practices of the art world.

 

Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW
MoMA, New York, April 30–July 30, 2017
HOW TO SEE the artist with MoMA curator Roxanna Marcoci, 2017

Works
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
(Bunny) Sculpture and Painting (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times), 1999/2015/2019

Louise Lawler
(Bunny) Sculpture and Painting (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times), 1999/2015/2019
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable to match proportions of a given wall at any scale determined by exhibitor
Eau de Cologne, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Hong Kong, March 27–April 12, 2019

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A., 2004

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A., 2004
Silver dye bleach print
74.9 × 59.7 cm
29 1/2 × 23 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A. (adjusted for the wall, Sprüth Magers, Basel, distorted for the times), 2004/2016/2017

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A. (adjusted for the wall, Sprüth Magers, Basel, distorted for the times), 2004/2016/2017
Chromogenic color print
76.2 × 96.8 cm
30 × 38 1/8 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Service, 1987

Louise Lawler
Service, 1987
Six printed glasses, glass shelf
each glass: 12 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm
each glass: 4 3/4 × 3 3/4 × 3 3/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail, 1999

Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail, 1999
Silver dye bleach print
98.4 × 82.6 cm
38 3/4 × 32 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Jesus and Chains, 2008

Louise Lawler
Jesus and Chains, 2008
Silver dye bleach print
97.2 × 85.7 cm
39 3/4 × 34 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Formica (traced), 2011/2012/2014

Louise Lawler
Formica (traced), 2011/2012/2014
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable in proportion to size of original artwork:
93.3 × 87.6 cm / 36 3/4 × 34 1/2 inches
No Drones
, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, November 15, 2014–January 17, 2015

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Formica, 2011/2012

Louise Lawler
Formica, 2011/2012
Silver dye bleach print
93.3 × 87.6 cm
36 3/4 × 34 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Formica (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times, slippery slope 2), 2011/2012/2015/2017

Louise Lawler
Formica (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times, slippery slope 2), 2011/2012/2015/2017
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable to match proportions of a given wall at any scale determined by exhibitor

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Untitled (Reception Area), 1987/93

Louise Lawler
Untitled (Reception Area), 1987/93
Paperweight
Silver dye bleach print, crystal, felt
5.1 × 8.9 × 8.9 cm
2 × 3 1/2 × 3 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
(Roy Lichtenstein and Other Artists) Black, 1982

Louise Lawler
(Roy Lichtenstein and Other Artists) Black, 1982
Silver dye bleach print
72.4 × 94.6 cm
28 1/2 × 37 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Life After 1945 (Faces), 2006/2007

Louise Lawler
Life After 1945 (Faces), 2006/2007
Silver dye bleach print
101.6 × 84.5 cm
40 × 33 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Arranged by Mera & Donald Rubell, 1982

Louise Lawler
Arranged by Mera & Donald Rubell, 1982
Black and white photograph with text on mat
54.6 × 49.5 cm (image)
71.1 × 81.3 cm (mat)
21 1/2 × 19 1/2 inches (image)
28 × 32 inches (mat)

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Etude pour la Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985

Louise Lawler
Etude pour la Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985
Black and white photograph, mat with transfer type
39.4 × 58.4 cm (image)
71.1 × 81.3 cm (mat)
15 1/2 × 23 inches (image)
28 × 32 inches (mat)

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2013

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2013
Set of 2 Kölsch glasses, 1 box
each glass 15 × 5 cm
each glass 6 × 2 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2010/2011

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2010/2011
Chromogenic color print
74.3 × 50.2 cm
29 1/4 × 19 3/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Woman with Picasso, 1912, 1986

Louise Lawler
Woman with Picasso, 1912, 1986
4 silver dye bleach prints with mat, colored wall and title as wall text
each 66 × 96.5 cm (image size)
each 26 × 38 inches (image size)

Details
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
(Bunny) Sculpture and Painting (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times), 1999/2015/2019
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable to match proportions of a given wall at any scale determined by exhibitor
Eau de Cologne, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Hong Kong, March 27–April 12, 2019

Louise Lawler
(Bunny) Sculpture and Painting (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times), 1999/2015/2019
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A., 2004
Silver dye bleach print
74.9 × 59.7 cm
29 1/2 × 23 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A., 2004
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A. (adjusted for the wall, Sprüth Magers, Basel, distorted for the times), 2004/2016/2017
Chromogenic color print
76.2 × 96.8 cm
30 × 38 1/8 inches

Louise Lawler
Andy in L.A. (adjusted for the wall, Sprüth Magers, Basel, distorted for the times), 2004/2016/2017
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Service, 1987
Six printed glasses, glass shelf
each glass: 12 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm
each glass: 4 3/4 × 3 3/4 × 3 3/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Service, 1987
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail, 1999
Silver dye bleach print
98.4 × 82.6 cm
38 3/4 × 32 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail, 1999
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Jesus and Chains, 2008
Silver dye bleach print
97.2 × 85.7 cm
39 3/4 × 34 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Jesus and Chains, 2008
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Formica (traced), 2011/2012/2014
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable in proportion to size of original artwork:
93.3 × 87.6 cm / 36 3/4 × 34 1/2 inches
No Drones
, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, November 15, 2014–January 17, 2015

Louise Lawler
Formica (traced), 2011/2012/2014
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Formica, 2011/2012
Silver dye bleach print
93.3 × 87.6 cm
36 3/4 × 34 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Formica, 2011/2012
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Formica (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times, slippery slope 2), 2011/2012/2015/2017
Adhesive wall material
Dimensions variable to match proportions of a given wall at any scale determined by exhibitor

Louise Lawler
Formica (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times, slippery slope 2), 2011/2012/2015/2017
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Untitled (Reception Area), 1987/93
Paperweight
Silver dye bleach print, crystal, felt
5.1 × 8.9 × 8.9 cm
2 × 3 1/2 × 3 1/2 inches

Louise Lawler
Untitled (Reception Area), 1987/93
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
(Roy Lichtenstein and Other Artists) Black, 1982
Silver dye bleach print
72.4 × 94.6 cm
28 1/2 × 37 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
(Roy Lichtenstein and Other Artists) Black, 1982
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Life After 1945 (Faces), 2006/2007
Silver dye bleach print
101.6 × 84.5 cm
40 × 33 1/4 inches

Louise Lawler
Life After 1945 (Faces), 2006/2007
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Arranged by Mera & Donald Rubell, 1982
Black and white photograph with text on mat
54.6 × 49.5 cm (image)
71.1 × 81.3 cm (mat)
21 1/2 × 19 1/2 inches (image)
28 × 32 inches (mat)

Louise Lawler
Arranged by Mera & Donald Rubell, 1982
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Etude pour la Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985
Black and white photograph, mat with transfer type
39.4 × 58.4 cm (image)
71.1 × 81.3 cm (mat)
15 1/2 × 23 inches (image)
28 × 32 inches (mat)

Louise Lawler
Etude pour la Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2013
Set of 2 Kölsch glasses, 1 box
each glass 15 × 5 cm
each glass 6 × 2 inches

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2013
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2010/2011
Chromogenic color print
74.3 × 50.2 cm
29 1/4 × 19 3/4 inches

Louise Lawler
No Drones, 2010/2011
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Woman with Picasso, 1912, 1986
4 silver dye bleach prints with mat, colored wall and title as wall text
each 66 × 96.5 cm (image size)
each 26 × 38 inches (image size)

Louise Lawler
Woman with Picasso, 1912, 1986
Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 17

 

Current and Upcoming

Forever Young – 10 Years Museum Brandhorst
May 24, 2019–July 19, 2020
Museum Brandhorst, Munich

In light of recent developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), exhibitions, events and talks are subject to change.

The museum’s tenth birthday in May 2019 is the occasion for an exhibition of its expanded collection. “Forever Young – 10 Years Museum Brandhorst” traces an arc ranging from the 1960s to present day art production, and combines many new acquisitions of recent years with the collection’s more familiar highlights.

Link
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler, (Allan McCollum and Other Artists) Chartreuse/Red/Black, 1981.

Material Meanings – Selections from the Constance R. Caplan Collection
Louise Lawler
February 22–Fall, 2020
The Art Institute of Chicago – ICA, Chicago

In light of recent developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), exhibitions, events and talks are subject to change.

The fourth and final installment in the collection-driven series that pairs photography with other creative domains, Material Meanings brings 30 outstanding works to Chicago for the first public showing of the private collection of Constance R. Caplan.

Link

Five Ways In: Themes from the Collection
February 14, 2019–September 19, 2021
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

In light of recent developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), exhibitions, events and talks are subject to change.

The Walker’s newest collection exhibition is organized by five familiar themes: portraiture, the interior scene, landscape, still life, and abstraction. Each of these areas features a diverse range of artists whose approaches to their subjects are often unconventional, innovative, and even surprising.
With more than 100 works—painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video installations—the exhibition Five Ways In: Themes from the Collection invites us to become reacquainted with favorites from the collection and discover new pieces by artists who are reinventing genres we thought we knew.

Link
Louise Lawler
Five Ways In: Themes from the Collection, installation view, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February 14, 2019–September 19, 2021. Photo by Bobby Rogers, courtesy of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Louise Lawler

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Astrid Klein, Marlene Dumas, Kara Walker, Cady Noland
March 27–April 12, 2019
Hong Kong

Eau de Cologne began as a series of exhibitions and three publications, organized by Monika Sprüth between 1985 and 1989, which sought to create a new dialogue around contemporary art. The exhibitions introduced a select group of young women artists, each of whom individually represented powerful attitudes and practices.

Read more

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Jenny Holzer / Lady Pink
June 28–August 20, 2016
Los Angeles

The group show Eau de Cologne at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles features work from the late 1970s to 2016 by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. The exhibition at Sprüth Magers’ recently-opened Los Angeles gallery is a follow–up to its predecessor in Berlin last year. It sheds light on key topics in these artists’ works, but also the specific history of the gallery and its connection to these important female figures of an art that subtly addresses women’s roles in very different ways.

Read more
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler

Eau de Cologne
Rosemarie Trockel, Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler
September 17–October 21, 2015
Berlin

This group exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin shows works from the early 1980s to 2015 by Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. These five artists have been working with Monika Sprüth since the foundation of her gallery in Cologne in the early 1980s and have been closely connected to the gallery ever since.

Louise Lawler
No Drones
November 15, 2014–January 17, 2015
Berlin

Over the last 30 years, Louise Lawler has been making photographs that depict views of objects and artworks in their everyday working environments, shifting the emphasis from the subject itself to vantage points, framing devices and the modes of distribution that affect the reception of an artwork. For No Drones, Lawler will exhibit a group of ‘tracings’, a series that she developed for her exhibition at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2013.

Read more
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
No Drones
July 2–August 23, 2014
London

Over the last 30 years, Louise Lawler has been making photographs that depict views of objects and artworks in their everyday working environments, shifting the emphasis from the subject itself to vantage points, framing devices and the modes of distribution that affect the reception of an artwork. For No Drones, Lawler will exhibit a group of ‘tracings’, a series that she developed for her exhibition at the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, in 2013.

Read more

Louise Lawler
Where is the nearest camera?
November 28, 2007–January 19, 2008
London

Renowned since the 1980s for her photographs taken in private collections, museums and auction houses, Louise Lawler continues to question the ideas of authorship and the notion of identity that we invest in works of art. Throughout her career Lawler has often focused on the environments where artworks exist after leaving the artist’s studio. As the place of creation, the artist’s studio was rarely of interest to Lawler. It was rather the life of the work afterwards that raised important questions for her: in which surroundings is art presented to us and how does our perception of it depend on these? What are the mechanisms of the institutions and the art market, which determine the various locations where we can find art?

Read more
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
Not there and other works
April 19–June 19, 2004
London

Louise Lawler
'Hand On Her Back' and Other Pictures
April 24–June 19, 1999
Cologne

Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler
External Stimulation
September 9–October 29, 1994
Cologne

Press

Portfolio: Louise Lawler
Eikon, article by Magdalena Vuković, 2019

She’s Here
Spike Art Magazine, review by Bob Nickas, Winter 2019

Louise Lawler’s Quiet Melancholy
Hyperallergic, article by Thomas Micchelli, January 26, 2019

Kindling
Art in America, article by Lean Pires, June/July 2017

Louis Lawler’s Stealth Aesthetic (and Muted Aura)
New York Times, article by Roberta Smith, May 11, 2017

Louis Lawler’s Beguiling Institutional Critique
The New Yorker, article by Peter Schjeldahl, May 8, 2017

Indirect Answers: Douglas Crimp on Louis Lawler’s Why Pictures Now
Artforum, article by Douglas Crimp, September 2012

A Stroke of Genius
Texte zur Kunst, article by Isabelle Graw, December 2009

Her Kindling Voice
Texte zur Kunst, interview by Rhea Anastas, September 2007

Louise Lawler Looks Back
Art in America, article by Kirsten Swenson, December 2006

Biography

Louise Lawler (*1947, Bronxville, NY) lives in Brooklyn, New York. Selected solo exhibitions include Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2019), Sammlung Verbund, Vienna (2018), MoMA, New York (2017), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2013), Albertinum, Dresden (2012), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2006), Dia:Beacon, New York (2005), and Museum for Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2004). Selected group exhibitions include Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019, 2016, 2012, 2009, 2003), Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2006, 2004, 1991, 1988), MoMA, New York (2019, 2010, 1999), MoMA PS1, New York (2019, 2015) MUMOK, Vienna (2015, 2011), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014, 2003) and the Whitney Museum, New York (2013, 2002, 2001, 2000), which additionally featured the artist in its 1991, 2000, and 2008 biennials.

Education
1969 BFA Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Public Collections
Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, OH
Art Institute of Chicago
Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey
Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo
Baltimore Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Cincinnati Art Museum
Des Moines Art Center
Detroit Institute of Art
Ellipse Foundation, Lisbon
Fondation Cartier, Paris
Fotomuseum Winterthur
FRAC Bretagne, Chateaugiron
Glenstone Foundation, Potomac, MD
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida Gainesville
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Hessel Collection Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
Jumex Collection, Mexico City
Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis
Kresge Museum, East Lansing, MI
Kunsthalle Hamburg
Kunstmuseum Basel
Le Consortium, Dijon
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Magasin 3 Konsthall, Stockholm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey
Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen Rotterdam
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna
Museum van Hedendaagse, Antwerp
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Phoenix Art Museum
Princeton University Art Museum
Queens Museum, New York
Rubell Collection, Miami
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Seattle Art Museum
Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Portugal
Sprengel Museum, Hanover
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
Tate, London
Vancouver Art Gallery
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT