Lawrence Weiner

Lawrence Weiner, Cat. #278 (1972) TO SEE AND BE SEEN 1972

Lawrence Weiner, Cat. #278 (1972) TO SEE AND BE SEEN, 1972. Installation view: American Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture 1913–1993, Royal Academy of Arts, London, September 16–December 12, 1993

Lawrence Weiner

Lawrence Weiner, Cat. #278 (1972) TO SEE AND BE SEEN, 1972. Installation view: Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated): Art from 1952 to the Present, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, March 5–May 19, 2004. © 2010 Lawrence Weiner/Artists Rights Society (ARS). Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

Lawrence Weiner, Cat. #278 (1972) TO SEE AND BE SEEN, 1972

Lawrence Weiner, Cat. #278 (1972) TO SEE AND BE SEEN, 1972. Installation view: Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, Shanghai Art Museum, April 30–June 30, 2007

The Guggenheim Museum's Panza Collection includes 17 language-based works by Lawrence Weiner ranging from 1969 to 1972. Such works take the form of idioms, proverbs, meditations, descriptions of physical actions, or evocations of space (such as "To see and be seen," "Earth to Earth Dust to Dust Ashes to Ashes," and "To the sea"). One work, THE RESIDUE OF A FLARE IGNITED UPON A BOUNDARY (1969), has been physically realized in the past: in 1969 at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Weiner himself lit a flare on the city border. For the most part, however, this and other works by Weiner in the collection have been produced not as physical actions but as text on the walls of various art and nonart spaces, from the museum to the street.

The appearance of Weiner's wall texts has significantly varied from one installation to the next across the span of his career. Weiner is generally involved in all decisions about the manifestation of his work, specifying the font, size, line, surface texture, and overall placement of the paint or vinyl letters in response to a given setting. Presently, the artist has formalized no plans according to which future caretakers would make such determinations.

Beyond the adaptation of his works to the walls of a given space, there are also fundamental questions regarding the realization of the work as public inscription versus spoken word or printed text (e.g., in a book). The decision process relating to the manifestation of the work is especially pertinent in light of Weiner's stated principles of "universal availability" and delegated authorship—his notion that "the decision as to condition [of the artwork] rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership."1 The time has come to consider developing a consistent yet inherently flexible methodology for producing and preserving Weiner's work in light of his radical conceptual practice. Such standards will allow the work to be perpetuated while also serving the artist's concept of contextual adaptability.

See a selection of Weiner's work in the Collection Online.

1. Lawrence Weiner, "Statement of Intent," 1968. First published in January 5–31, 1969, exh. cat. (New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969), unpaginated.

Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung, Four Pieces (of White), 2012

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