Louise Lawler (born 1947) is a U.S. artist and photographer. From the
late 1970s onwards, Lawler’s work has focused on photographing
portraits of other artists’ work, giving special attention to the
spaces in which they are placed and methods used to make them.
Examples of Lawler's photographs include images of paintings hanging
on the walls of a museum, paintings on the walls of an art collector's
opulent home, artwork in the process of being installed in a gallery,
and sculpture in a gallery being viewed by spectators. Along with
artists like Cindy Sherman,
Laurie Simmons and Barbara Kruger, Lawler
is considered to be part of the Pictures Generation. Louise Lawler
lives in Brooklyn, New York.
1 Early life and career
2.1 Early work
2.2 Later work
2.3 Recent projects
5 Art market
6.1 Artists' books
7 See also
9 External links
Early life and career
Lawler was born in 1947 in Bronxville, New York. She earned a
B.F.A. at Cornell University, and moved to Manhattan in 1969, where
she soon took a job at the Castelli Gallery. There, she met Janelle
Reiring, who would go on to co-found Metro Pictures with Helene Winer
Lawler has photographed pictures and objects in collectors’ homes,
in galleries, on the walls of auction houses, and off the walls, in
museum storage. Along with photography, she has created conceptual and
installation art. Some of her works, such as the "Book of Matches",
are ephemeral and explore the passing of time, while others, such as
Helms Amendment (963) (1989), are expressly political. Lawler's
work, in its diverse manifestations (installations, events,
publications, souvenirs...) addresses or confronts prevailing systems
of establishing art, taste and style. She is, however, less
interested in the original process of creating a work of art than in
the context lying beyond the artist's sphere of influence and in which
the work is subsequently situated. Often framed as “appropriation
art” or “institutional critique”, Lawler’s photographic work
lays bare the day-to-day operations of the art world and its
circulation and presentation of art works. Her work is interested
in the intersection of art and commerce.
Birdcalls (1972/2008) is an audio artwork that transforms the
names of famous male artists into a bird song, parroting names such as
Artschwager, Beuys, Ruscha and Warhol, a mockery of conditions of
privilege and recognition given to male artists at that time. Art
Jerry Saltz nicknamed the piece “Patriarchal Roll
During her time working at Castelli Gallery, Lawler was making
paintings, artist’s books, prints, and photographs of her own. But
when she landed her first official gallery exhibition, in 1978 at
Artists Space, she did not exhibit any of that work. Instead, she
borrowed a small 1883 portrait of a horse from
Aqueduct Racetrack —
it had been hanging over a Xerox machine in the offices — and
mounted it on an empty wall at the gallery. To highlight her
appropriation, she installed two spotlights: one above the picture and
another pointed out the window, at the building next door, hinting to
sidewalk passersby that there was something of note going on
In 1979, Lawler presented A Movie Will Be Shown Without the Picture at
the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. As the full-length soundtrack of The
Misfits played, the silver screen remained unremittingly blank. A
black card announcing the event stated the (self-explanatory) title of
the work, and the venue and date of its screening. The artist has
reprised the piece on a handful of occasions, including in 1983 at the
Bleecker Street Cinema
Bleecker Street Cinema in New York (using the 1961 film The Hustler
and the 1957
Bugs Bunny cartoon What’s Opera, Doc?) as part of a
show organized by Robert Barry at the downtown alternative space
Franklin Furnace called “In Other Words: Artists Use of Language”
and, in 1987, in the
C.W. Post College
C.W. Post College in a show organized by Bob
Nickas called “Perverted in Language.” The piece was also
performed as part of West of Rome’s “Women in the City” series
Emi Fontana at the Aero Theater in 2008, and in
Amsterdam in 2012 at The Movies theater with Saturday Night Fever
(1977). In 1994, Lawler created Foreground, and presented it in Tate
Gallery in 2009.
Lawler developed her individual style during the early 1980s, a time
of intense growth in the overall economy and in the art market. In
1981 Lawler had her first West Coast gallery solo exhibition at Jancar
Kuhlenschmidt Gallery in Los Angeles. In 1982, for her first solo
exhibition at Metro Pictures, Lawler showed a small suite of artworks
pulled from the gallery’s stockroom. The pieces were to be sold
together, as a single work called Arranged by Louise Lawler, and it
was priced at the literal sum of its parts, plus an extra 10 percent
commission for Lawler; the piece did not sell.
Lawler's greatest coup came in 1984, when she was granted full access
to the Connecticut home of twentieth-century collectors Burton and
Emily Tremaine (as it turns out, just a few years before much of their
collection was dispersed at
Christie's in 1988). As sometimes
happens in the history of photography, the artist serendipitously
discovered in one place the crux of her entire project. Working in
available light with a 35mm camera, she found treasures everywhere she
looked, such as this decorator's duet between the tortured gestural
slashes of a late
Jackson Pollock and the filigree of a Limoges soup
bowl. In Living Room Corner, Arranged by Mr. & Mrs. Burton
Tremaine, New York City (1984), a
Robert Delaunay hangs above a
television and a Lichtenstein bust, which has been turned into a lamp,
seems to stare up and outward. The piece places valuable works
among household objects, exploring how environments shape our
"reading" of art. For a later piece, Fragment/Frame/Text (#163)
(1984), Lawler photographed a museum wall label next to a landscape
painting by Claude Lorrain; only a fragment of the landscape appears
in the photo. In Foreground (1994), a gelatin silver print showing
an open-plan living area in the Chicago apartment of art collector
Stefan Edlis, Jeff Koons' Rabbit (1986) can be seen next to a
refrigerator. By manipulating the focus and the view-finder of the
camera, Lawler demonstrated how an artwork is determined by the
paradigms of the art world: A label on the wall of an auction house
would become the focus of an image, with only a small fraction of the
work itself visible, and the idea of the artwork as a commercial
entity would be brought to mind.
Art Basel and
Art Basel Miami Beach fairs, the Museum
of Modern Art,
Christie's and various galleries, Lawler later
presented a behind-the-scenes view of art: the hoisting of a Richard
Serra sculpture attended by uniformed handlers; white-gloved hands
carefully transporting a
Gerhard Richter painting; Maurizio Cattelan's
giant Picasso head swathed in plastic sitting on the floor behind its
disconnected body; another Richter painting lying on its side propped
against the wall, its public exposure at MoMA at an end; a Damien
Hirst spin-painting glimpsed through a closet door. Lawler titled her
2004 survey show at Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel "Louise
Lawler and Others" in acknowledgement of the artists whose artworks
she photographs. Lawler created Not the way you remembered
(Venice) for the exhibition "Sequence One: Painting and Sculpture from
the François Pinault Collection (2006–07)"; rather than
contributing discrete artworks, these photographs were taken of the
exhibition’s early installation process in Venice, depicting
works of art in their shipping crates, besides pieces of foam or
For a site-specific collaboration with fellow artist
Liam Gillick at
Casey Kaplan Gallery in 2013, Lawler contributed a long vinyl wall
sticker that linked the three rooms of the gallery. The image printed
on it was a stretched-out version of some of her earlier photographs
of artworks in bland white-box settings; here, pieces by Edgar Degas,
Richard Serra and Gerhard Richter, among others, were distorted beyond
recognition into unrecognisable streaks of colour.
For the 15th installation in a series of artist-designed 25-by-75-foot
billboards at the High Line, Lawler created Triangle (adjusted to fit)
(2008/2009/2011), an image photographed in a room at
house in New York, and itself featuring works by artists Donald Judd,
Frank Stella and Sol LeWitt.
Lawler has had one-person exhibitions at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne
(2013); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2006); Dia:Beacon,
Beacon, New York (2005); the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel
(2004); Portikus, Frankfurt (2003); the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
Garden, Washington, D.C. (1997); and The Museum of Modern Art, New
York, New York (1987). Her work has recently been featured in
exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the
Stedelijk Museum in
Amsterdam, the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, and the Whitney
Museum of American Art in New York, which included her in its 1991,
2000, and 2008 biennials. Lawler's work was included in documenta
12, Kassel, Germany. Lawler has regularly presented her work in
non-art contexts that employ "ordinary" means of presentation,
distribution and interpretation.
Lawler has been represented by Metro Pictures, New York, since
1982. She is also represented by Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris,
and by Sprüth Magers, Berlin.
Pieces by the artist are in the collections of the Museum of Modern
Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, LACMA;
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art Institute of Chicago;
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate
Britain, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Israel Museum, Tel
Aviv; Kunsthalle Hamburg; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museet for
Samtidskunst, Oslo; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and Yale
University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.
Estimated at $40,000 to $60,000, Lawler's photograph Monogram Arranged
by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, New York City 1984, a photograph of a
perfectly made bed with Jasper Johns's famous White Flag (1955–1958)
hanging above it, sold for $125,600, a record for the artist, in
1981 Passage to the North, a structure by Lawrence Weiner and
photographs by Louise Lawler, New York: Tongue Press
1978 Untitled, Black/White, (text by Janelle Reiring), New York
1978 Untitled, Red/Blue, New York
1972 Untitled, (with Joanne Caring), New York: The Roseprint Detective
Louise, Lawler (2006). Twice Untitled and Other Pictures (looking
back). The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-62206-8.
Louise Lawler and Others,
Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004,
Louise Lawler: An Arranagement of Pictures, (essay by Johannes
Meinhardt, interview with
Louise Lawler by Douglas Crimp), Assouline,
Paris/ New York, 2000
Louise Lawler, Monochrome, (essay by Phyllis Rosenzweig), Washington:
Hirschorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 1997
Louise Lawler – For Sale, (essays by Dietmar Elger, Thomas Weski),
Leipzig: Reihe Cantz, 1994
^ Douglas Eklund, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Pictures
Generation Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
^ a b
Louise Lawler Skarstedt Gallery, New York.
^ "2008 Whitney Biennial: Louise Lawler", The Whitney Museum,
Retrieved 29 June 2014.
^ a b c Rachel Wolff (May 1, 2011), Impressive Proportions: Louise
Lawler photographs great art—then treats it like taffy New York
Roberta Smith (December 8, 1989), Julian Schnabel's Mantra: Stop
Ruining the World New York Times.
^ a b Louise Lawler: Arrangements of Pictures, November 20 –
December 18, 1982 Archived October 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
Metro Pictures, New York.
^ Louise Lawler: Probably not in the show, March 22 - April 27, 2003
Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Portikus, Frankfurt
^ stedelijk @ if i can’t dance - louise lawler, June 12, 2012
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
^ a b Grosenick, Uta; Becker, Ilka (2001-01-01). Women Artists in the
20th and 21st Century. Taschen. ISBN 9783822858547.
^ The bird calls were installed at the Huntington Library, Art
Collections and Botanical within their Gardens Bamboo Garden in 2008
as part of the public art showcase titled Women in the City, curated
Emi Fontana and produced by West of Rome Public Art.
Jerry Saltz (May 25, 2008), The Art World’s Space Invader New York
^ Morgan, Susan (27 January 2008). "Sex in the City". The New York
^ Link to
New York Times
New York Times Magazine article "Sex in the City" on the
"Women in the City" project in 2008
^ Tate. "Foreground,
Louise Lawler 1994 Tate". Tate. Retrieved
^ Rita Reif (September 8, 1988),
Christie's to Auction Works From Two
Art Collections New York Times.
^ Louise Lawler, Pollock and Tureen, Arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Burton
Tremaine, Connecticut (1984) Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
^ Bruce Hainley,
Louise Lawler Archived 2008-12-01 at the Wayback
Machine. Frieze, Issue 56, January–February 2001.
^ Art and feminism. Reckitt, Helena., Phelan, Peggy. London: Phaidon.
2001. ISBN 9780714847023. OCLC 48098625.
^ Martha Schwendener (September 19, 2013), Monuments of a
Postindustrial Landscape New York Times.
^ Louise Lawler, Foreground (1994) Tate Collection, London.
^ Louise Lawler: Looking Forward, October 30 – December 23, 2004
Archived October 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Metro Pictures, New
Louise Lawler Whitney Biennial 2008.
Louise Lawler Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine. Palazzo
^ Liam Gillick/Louise Lawler, November 1 – December 21, 2013 Casey
Kaplan Gallery, New York.
^ Karen Rosenberg (November 21, 2013),
Liam Gillick / Louise Lawler
New York Times.
^ Pei-Ru Keh (November 4, 2013), Artists
Liam Gillick and Louise
Lawler's work comes together at Casey Kaplan in New York Wallpaper.
^ Graham Bowley (August 19, 2014), A
Louise Lawler Billboard for the
High Line New York Times.
^ a b Louise Lawler: Fitting at Metro Pictures, May 6 – June 11,
2011 Metro Pictures, New York.
^ Louise Lawler: Sucked In, Blown Out, Obviously Indebted or One Foot
in Front of the Other, May 9 – June 7, 2008 Metro Pictures, New
^ Yvon Lambert
^ Carol Vogel (November 9, 2004), An Appropriate Finale for a $9.2
Million Auction New York Times.
Louise Lawler audio art piece "Birdcalls" published at Tellus Audio
Louise Lawler in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art
ISNI: 0000 0001 2144 4469
BNF: cb13750823p (data)