BORN IN FEBRUARY 1942 BRONX NEW YORK
ATTENDED THE NEW YORK PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
THE LATE FIFTIES AND EARLY SIXTIES WERE SPENT TRAVELLING
THROUGHOUT NORTH AMERICA [USA – MEXICO AND CANADA]
THE FIRST PRESENTATION OF THE WORK WAS MILL VALLEY CALIFORNIA IN 1960. LAWRENCE WEINER DIVIDES HIS TIME BETWEEN HIS STUDIO IN NEW YORK CITY AND HIS BOAT IN AMSTERDAM.
HE PARTICIPATES IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROJECTS AND EXHIBITIONS IN BOTH THE NEW AND OLD WORLD MAINTAINING THAT:
ART IS THE EMPIRICAL FACT OF THE
RELATIONSHIPS OF OBJECTS TO OBJECTS
IN RELATION TO HUMAN BEINGS & NOT DEPENDANT UPON
HISTORICAL PRECEDENT FOR EITHER USE OR LEGITIMACY
Born in 1942, Bronx, N.Y.
Lawrence Weiner, one of the central figures of Conceptual art [more], was born February 10, 1942, in the Bronx, New York. Upon graduating from high school, Weiner worked in a variety of jobs—on an oil tanker, on docks, and unloading railroad cars. 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.
The wall installations that have been a primary medium for Weiner since the 1970s consist solely of words in a nondescript lettering painted on walls. The lettering need not be done by the artist himself, as long as the sign painter complies with the instructions dictated by the artist. Although this body of work focuses on the potential for language to serve as an art form, the subjects of his epigrammatic statements are often materials, or a physical action or process, as exemplifed by such works as ONE QUART GREEN EXTERIOR INDUSTRIAL ENAMEL THROWN ON A BRICK WALL (1968) or EARTH TO EARTH ASHES TO ASHES DUST TO DUST (1970). Other times the subject involves a translation from one language to another or an encounter with a national boundary, as in THE JOINING OF FRANCE GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND BY ROPE (1969). In the succeeding decades, Weiner explored the interaction of punctuation, shapes, and color to serve as inflections of meaning for his texts. In 1997, he created Homeport, an interactive environment for the contemporary art web site äda'web, in which visitors can explore a space defined by linguistic rather than geographic features.
Solo exhibitions include Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria (2016), Regen Projects, Los Angeles, USA (2016), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, UK (2015), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2014), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain (2013), Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2007), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (2007); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (2004), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2000), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (1994) and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA (1990). He participated in documenta 5, 6, 7, and 13 (1972, 1977, 1982, 2012), the 36th, 41st, 50th and 55th Venice Biennales, Italy (1972, 1984, 2003, 2013) and the 27th Biennale de Sao Paulo, Brazil (2006). Among many honours he was awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1983), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994), the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1995), a Skowhegan Medal for Painting/Conceptual Art (1999) and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (2013).