Installation view of “Lawrence Weiner: To Allow The Light” (2007).
In 1969 Weiner issued a Declaration of Intent:
1. The artist may construct the work
2. The work may be fabricated
3. The work need 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.)
The receiver and the artist collaborate in the synthesis of the work, whether manifested or not. Weiner’s artworks can be made for a specific site but are not created as such. His materials and their formal presentation vary – installed on walls, floors, or windows of museums, galleries, homes and public spaces. Works appear on a multitude of surfaces, from matchbooks to manhole covers, pins and t-shirts, spoken on film or sung on a record. The same work can appear in different formats as to placement, color, typeface, format, and scale and with texts, for example, painted, printed, stenciled, or in vinyl. Weiner’s work continues to disrupt our notion of art’s use, authorship, display, and material.
One of the key figures associated with the emergence and foundations of Conceptual Art during the 1960s, Lawrence Weiner is known for his text-based works that explore the nature of language, meaning, and communication. Considering language as a material object, Weiner helped to expand the ontological definition of art and explored the relationship between words and power, as Anne Rorimer has commented, “liberat[ing] the work of art from its traditional subjugation to uniqueness.” In this survey exhibition, UCCA presents a selection of key works, chosen in collaboration with Lawrence Weiner Estate. Featuring text works dating from the 1970s through the 2010s, alongside archival materials, this exhibition marks Weiner’s first institutional presentation in China since his work “TO ALLOW THE LIGHT” was commissioned and presented in 2007 as part of UCCA’s inaugural series of exhibitions.
About the Artist
Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942, New York) graduated from Stuyvesant High School at age 16 and briefly attended Hunter College before setting out on his own. Hitchhiking around the United States as a teenager, Weiner left small sculptures on the roads he traveled. It was during this period of his life, in 1960, when he created what he would later consider his first official artwork: Cratering Piece, in which he set off explosives in a state park in Mill Valley, California, forging new, sculptural crevices within the landscape. A major figure in the development of the Conceptual Art movement, Weiner was deeply interested in communication and reception. His art, which has been installed in public and institutional spaces around the world, is marked by its inherent generosity and fluidity. In addition to his sculptures, Weiner produced music, films, and videos, as well as artist books and editions, throughout his career.
In the early years of his career, Weiner participated in some of the most storied exhibitions of the postwar era – major thematic group shows that helped define the Conceptualism movement – including “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form” (Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, 1969); “Using Walls (Indoors)” (Jewish Museum, New York, 1970); and “Documenta 5” (Kassel, Germany, 1972). By the 1990s, Weiner was mounting solo exhibitions at institutions around the world, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany; the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bourdeaux; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. The first retrospective of Weiner’s work in the United States was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007.