Lawrence Weiner

Conceptual Artist

One of the central figures of Conceptual art, Weiner was born February 10, 1942, in the Bronx, New York
He traveled throughout North America before returning to New York, where he exhibited at the Seth Siegelaub Gallery in 1964 and 1965. Weiner’s early work included experiments with systematic approaches to shaped canvases and, later, cutting out squares of material from carpeting or walls.

A turning point in Weiner’s approach came in 1968, when he created a work for an outdoor exhibition organized by Siegelaub at Windham College in Putney, Vermont. As his contribution to the exhibition, Weiner proposed to define the space for his work with rather unobtrusive means: A series of stakes set in the ground at regular intervals to form a rectangle – twine strung from stake to stake to demark a grid – a rectangle removed from this rectangle. When students cut down the twine because it hampered their access across the campus lawn, Weiner realized that his piece could have been even less obtrusive: viewers could have experienced the same effect Weiner desired simply by reading a verbal description of the work. Not long after this, Weiner turned to language as the primary vehicle for his work, concluding in 1968 that:(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.

Like other Conceptual artists who gained international recognition in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Weiner has investigated forms of display and distribution that challenge traditional assumptions about the nature of the art object. As the sole contribution to a presentation organized by Siegelaub in 1968, Weiner created a small book entitled Statements; since the work consisted of nothing but words, there was no reason to display a physical object. That same year, Weiner also contributed pages to Siegelaub’s Xeroxbook a compendium of photocopies by seven Conceptually oriented artists.

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