Richard Artschwager

 

The enigmatic sculptures, paintings and drawings of Richard Artschwager (1923–2013) are marked by a subversive engagement with the languages of minimalism and Pop Art. The artist’s use of materials never employed in art before—including materials such as Formica, Celotex wood fiberboard, rubberized horse hair, acrylic bristles and sandpaper—drew attention to the everyday. His sculptures and installations possess a deadpan wit that has opened up new perspectives on both gallery spaces and our day-to-day living environment.

 

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Artschwager’s philosophical and humorous blp (pronounced “blip”) sculptures are among his best-known works. Produced in a variety of different materials and various sizes, they are lozenge-shaped forms that act like punctuation points in exhibition or public spaces, leaving the viewer with a feeling of pleasant and destabilizing dissonance. Other important sculptures mimic the aesthetics of mundane items and furniture, including tables, chairs, armchairs, cupboards, chests of drawers, doors, lecterns, pianos, and art transport boxes. Sometimes the imitated object is geometrically abstracted; sometimes it is represented in a characteristically distorted way, but it is always archetypical in form and clearly recognizable. The sculptures subvert the viewer’s unconscious understanding of the object with a surreal twist, thriving on the palpable tension between possible utilitarian value and “uselessness.” Gently ironic in their approach, they expose the design-aesthetic latencies of minimalism and ground the art movement’s doctrine in a realm of the everyday.

Artschwager once observed that he “wanted to make sculpture for the eye and painting for the touch.” His sculptures are often characterized by a painting-like flatness, thanks to Formica’s ability to simulate the look of other surfaces (wood or stone, for example) with near-photographic accuracy. The reverse is true of his paintings and drawings, which are marked by an almost emphatic materiality. Their heavy frames of painted or Formica-covered wood or polished metal often cross into sculpture. Artschwager’s need for haptic materiality also comes through in his choice of painting surfaces. Charcoal and pastel drawings were often executed on materials with a visually prominent texture, such as coarse, handmade paper or even sandpaper. Typical media for his painterly works were acrylic paint and Celotex hardboard, which has similarly distinctive textural features. These painting and drawing substrates abstract, fragment and reconfigure Artschwager’s works in an extraordinary way. The grisaille, or grey monochrome painting style typical of Artschwager’s work gives them the look of old-fashioned television static.

This pronounced materiality skillfully reverses the conventional logic of pictorial space. Most of Artschwager’s motifs are based on found photographs from newspapers and magazines, which the artist “copies” in a photorealistic, technically masterful way. But regardless of whether they are historical or pornographic images, art historical references or portraits of real people—the content of these works takes a clear back seat to their materiality.

Artschwager’s work is distinguished by a visual and material polyphony where kitsch and asceticism, generic images of Pop and the high art of minimalism collide without ever resolving the ambivalence of this encounter.

 

Richard Artschwager
Mart Rovereto, October 12, 2019–February 2, 2020
© Richard Artschwager, Mart Rovereto

 

Works
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
The Wedding, 2009

Richard Artschwager
The Wedding, 2009
Acrylic, chalk and pastel on handmade paper, on soundboard
147.3 × 208.3 cm (framed)
58 × 82 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008

Richard Artschwager
Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008
Plastic bristles on a mahogany core painted with latex
165 × 66 × 66 cm
65 × 22 × 22 inches

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Door } , 1983–84

Richard Artschwager
Door } , 1983–84
Acrylic and lacquer on wood and glass, metal; two parts
207.6 × 165.1 × 24.8 cm
81 3/4 × 65 × 9 3/4 inches

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Glove, 2002

Richard Artschwager
Glove, 2002
Acrylic, Formica, fiber panel on Celotex in artist‘s frame
98.7 × 115.9 cm (framed)
38 7/8 x 45 5/8 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000

Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000
Acrylic on wood, formica, aluminium
150 × 180 cm
59 × 70 7/8 inches

More views
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Formica on wood
167.7 × 101.6 × 33.7 cm
66 × 40 × 13 1/4 inches

More views
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Generations IV, 2003

Richard Artschwager
Generations IV, 2003
Acrylic on handmade fiber panel in artist's frame
87 × 63.2 × 5.1 cm (framed)
34 1/4 × 24 7/8 × 2 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
Acrylic on celotex and wood
133.4 × 231.8 × 7.6 cm (framed)
52 1/2 × 91 1/4 × 3 inches (framed)

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Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Untitled (Quotation Marks), 1980

Richard Artschwager
Untitled (Quotation Marks), 1980
Formica on wood, in two parts
39.5 × 28 × 5 cm (each)
15 1/2 × 11 × 2 inches (each)

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
RA-19, 1995

Richard Artschwager
RA-19, 1995
Wood and screws
99 × 194.5 × 61 cm
76 1/2 × 39 × 24 inches

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Ohne Titel/Untitled, 1968

Richard Artschwager
Ohne Titel/Untitled, 1968
Mixed Media on Masonite
112 × 96 cm
44 × 37 3/4 inches

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963

Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963
Wood and Formica
81.3 × 73 × 29.2 cm
32 × 28 3/4 × 11 1/2 inches

More views
Details
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
The Wedding, 2009
Acrylic, chalk and pastel on handmade paper, on soundboard
147.3 × 208.3 cm (framed)
58 × 82 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
The Wedding, 2009
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008
Plastic bristles on a mahogany core painted with latex
165 × 66 × 66 cm
65 × 22 × 22 inches

Richard Artschwager
Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Door } , 1983–84
Acrylic and lacquer on wood and glass, metal; two parts
207.6 × 165.1 × 24.8 cm
81 3/4 × 65 × 9 3/4 inches

Richard Artschwager
Door } , 1983–84
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Glove, 2002
Acrylic, Formica, fiber panel on Celotex in artist‘s frame
98.7 × 115.9 cm (framed)
38 7/8 x 45 5/8 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Glove, 2002
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000
Acrylic on wood, formica, aluminium
150 × 180 cm
59 × 70 7/8 inches

Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000 (detail)

Richard Artschwager
Splatter office, 2000
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Formica on wood
167.7 × 101.6 × 33.7 cm
66 × 40 × 13 1/4 inches

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008 (installation view)

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008 (installation view)

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008 (installation view)

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008 (detail)

Richard Artschwager
Pianofart, 2008
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Generations IV, 2003
Acrylic on handmade fiber panel in artist's frame
87 × 63.2 × 5.1 cm (framed)
34 1/4 × 24 7/8 × 2 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Generations IV, 2003
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
Acrylic on celotex and wood
133.4 × 231.8 × 7.6 cm (framed)
52 1/2 × 91 1/4 × 3 inches (framed)

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
(detail)

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
,
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
(detail)

Richard Artschwager
Double Stretch, 1987
,
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Untitled (Quotation Marks), 1980
Formica on wood, in two parts
39.5 × 28 × 5 cm (each)
15 1/2 × 11 × 2 inches (each)

Richard Artschwager
Untitled (Quotation Marks), 1980
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
RA-19, 1995
Wood and screws
99 × 194.5 × 61 cm
76 1/2 × 39 × 24 inches

Richard Artschwager
RA-19, 1995
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Ohne Titel/Untitled, 1968
Mixed Media on Masonite
112 × 96 cm
44 × 37 3/4 inches

Richard Artschwager
Ohne Titel/Untitled, 1968
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963
Wood and Formica
81.3 × 73 × 29.2 cm
32 × 28 3/4 × 11 1/2 inches

Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963
Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963 (detail)

Richard Artschwager
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Richard Artschwager
Musée départemental d'art ancien et contemporain - Epinal

Richard Artschwager
Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
February 28–May 10, 2020

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

This exhibition surveys the creative career of Richard Artschwager (b. 1923, Washington, D.C.–d. 2013, Albany, U.S.A), an artist who worked halfway between painting and sculpture and who developed a unique language using the new domestic materials of his time. This ambitious project, conceived by world-renowned curator Germano Celant and co-organized by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Mart – Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, comprises almost 70 pieces alongside a selection of rarely-seen archival documentation.

Link
Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Portraits!
February 14–March 9, 2013
London

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.

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Malerei der 80er Jahre
Andreas Schulze, Richard Artschwager, Ashley Bickerton, Albert Oehlen, Malcolm Morley
curated by Albert Oehlen
November 9, 2012–January 12, 2013
Berlin

Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Source Codes
Kenneth Anger, Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Bruce Conner, Richard Hamilton, David Lamelas, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Lucas Samaras, John Stezaker, Paul Thek
June 26–August 29, 2009
Berlin

Source Codes juxtaposes a selection of works by a number of artists and filmmakers from Europe and America who mapped essential conceptual groundwork in the 1960s and 1970s and whose work remains influential to many artists today By examining new ways to rethink and translate visual information and cultural codes in the gaps between Minimalism and Pop Art, and through an interest in process-based performative practice, their work has exerted significant influence on younger artists in a variety of ways.

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Richard Artschwager
May 2–August 29, 2009
Berlin

Since the 1960s American artist Richard Artschwager has deployed to challenge assumptions about perception and the aesthetic, material and spatial experience of art and the everyday. His paintings and sculptures assembled in this exhibition provide an ideal introduction to the range within Artschwager’s practice, and the unity of philosophical enquiry which binds these diverse works together. Artschwager’s work is typically characterised by playful and provocative slippages between different media.

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Richard Artschwager
Richard Artschwager

Richard Artschwager
Sculpture
September 8–November 4, 2006
Munich

Since the early 1960s, Richard Artschwager, born in Washington D.C. in 1923, creates sculpture evoking associations with common place objects such as furniture and household appliances. Firstly these works were shown at Leo Castelli, New York in 1965 and have attained greatest international recognition since then. For the first time in art history, Richard Artschwager uses do-it-yourself materials like Formica and Celotex becoming exemplary for future artist generations.

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Richard Artschwager
October 29–December 23, 2004
Cologne

Richard Artschwager
Press

The Grain of Pop in Richard Artschwager’s Portrait of Holly
SFMOMA, text by Marin Sarvé-Tarr, September 2018

Richard Artschwager: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Artforum International, article by Alex Kitnick, March 2013

Richard Artschwager, Painter and Sculptor, Dies at 89
The New York Times, article by Ken Johnson, February 10, 2013

An Enigma Wrapped in Formica ‘Richard Artschwager!’ at Whitney Museum
The New York Times, article by Holland Cotter, October 25, 2012

Biography

Richard Artschwager (1923–2013). 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, Nurmberg (2001, travelled to Serpentine Gallery, London), Portikus, Frankfurt (1993, travelled to Lenbachhaus, Munich), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (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, Ghent (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, London (1998).

Education
1948 BA, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
2005 Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis, Cologne
2002 Elected into The American Academy of Arts and Letters
Public Collections
The Art Institute of Chicago
Berardo Museum-Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lisbon
The Broad, Los Angeles
Castellani Art Museum, Lewiston
Chazen Museum of Art, Madison
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Daimler Contemporary, Berlin
David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence, RI
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris
FRAC-Picardie, Amiens
FRAC-Bretagne, Châteaugiron
FRAC-Limousin, Limoges
FRAC-Rhône-Alpes, IAC-Institute d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne
Kunstmuseum Basel
Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
L.A.C.-Lieu d'Art Contemporaine, Sigean
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
Museum of Modern Art, New York
MuHKA Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Museu Serralves-Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA
Samek Art Gallery, Lewisburg, PA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Schaulager, Münchenstein/Basel
SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent
Tate Modern, London
Tate Britain, London
The West Collection, Oaks, PA
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York