Richard Artschwager forged a unique path in art from the early 1950s through the early twenty-first century, making the visual comprehension of space and the everyday objects that occupy it strangely unfamiliar. His work has been variously described as Pop art, because of its derivation from utilitarian objects and incorporation of commercial and industrial materials; as Minimal art, because of its geometric forms and solid presence; and as conceptual art, because of its cool and cerebral detachment. But none of these classifications adequately define the aims of an artist who specialized in categorical confusion and worked to reveal the levels of deception involved in pictorial illusionism. In his work, an anonymous sheet of walnut-pattern Formica is both itself and a depiction of a wooden plane; a table or chair is furniture, sculpture, and image all at once; and a painting or sculpture can be a “multi-picture” or “three-dimensional still life.” Artschwager foregrounded the structures of perception, striving to conflate the world of images—which can be apprehended but not physically grasped—and the world of objects, the same space that we ourselves occupy. His last body of work marked a departure from his previous series, in that the images he composed from sources in popular culture communicated overt, if deadpan, allusions to contemporary political issues.
Artschwager was born in 1923 in Washington, DC, and died in 2013 in Albany, New York. After receiving a BA in 1948 from Cornell University, New York, he studied under Amédée Ozenfant, one of the pioneers of abstraction. In the early 1950s Artschwager became involved in cabinetmaking, producing simple pieces of furniture. After a ruinous workshop fire at the end of the decade, he began making sculpture using leftover industrial materials, then expanded into painting, drawing, site-specific installation, and photo-based work. Artschwager’s first exhibition took place at the Art Directions Gallery, New York, in 1959, and was followed by the first of many solo exhibitions with Leo Castelli in 1965. Solo exhibitions include Up and Across, Neues Museum, Nuremberg, Germany (2001, traveled to Serpentine Gallery, London); Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna (2002); Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2003, traveled to Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany, and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich); Painting Then and Now, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2003); Up and Down/Back and Forth, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (2003); Hair, Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis (2010); Richard Artschwager!, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012, traveled to Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco); and Punctuating Space: The Prints and Multiples of Richard Artschwager, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York (2015).
Live in Your Head
Richard Artschwager’s Cabinet of Curiosities
January 17–March 7, 2020
Davies Street, London
A conversation between Adam McEwen and Bob Monk.
Gwen Allen recounts her discovery of cutting-edge artists’ magazines from the 1960s and 1970s and explores the roots and implications of these singular publications.
On the occasion of the exhibition Richard Artschwager: Primary Sources, recently on view at Gagosian, New York, Bob Monk and Maggie Dougherty explore the artist’s use of reference materials as the impetus for his paintings.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.
Richard Artschwager is available for online reading from April 19 through May 18 as part of the From the Library series. This book was published on the occasion of Richard Artschwager at Gagosian, Rome. It focuses on seventeen works from a key period in the artist’s varied career, 1964 to 1987, which demonstrate his ability to rearrange the structures of perception, bringing the deceptive pictorial world of images into direct confrontation with the concretely human world of objects. The bilingual publication (English/Italian) features a new essay by curator Dieter Schwarz.
Richard Artschwager (New York: Gagosian, 2021)
Richard Armstrong and John Torreano on Richard Artschwager
Thursday, April 22, 2021, 1:30pm edt
On the occasion of Richard Artschwager at Gagosian in Rome, join us for a conversation about the artist with Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and artist John Torreano, longtime friends of Artschwager’s. Alongside contemporaries such as Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, Artschwager was a key figure in twentieth-century American art, forging a maverick path by confounding the traditional limits of art and reconfiguring the visual comprehension of space. The pair will discuss the genre-defying and often cerebral work of the late artist, whose varied career demonstrates his ability to rearrange the structures of perception. To join, register at eventbrite.com.
Richard Artschwager, Tract Home, 1964 © 2021 The Estate of Richard Artschwager/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Julien Grémaud
FIAC Online 2021
March 2–12, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to present Printemps oublié for the first online edition of FIAC. This curated presentation reflects the dual character of springtime as a reminder of past trials and the harbinger of a vibrant new season to come.
All the artworks will appear on the Gagosian website and a rotating selection will appear in the inaugural FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, from March 4 to 7.
Jeff Koons, Bluebird Planter, 2010–16 © Jeff Koons
Craft in Art, 1950–2019
Closing February 2022
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. Some expand techniques with long histories, such as weaving, sewing, or pottery, while others experiment with clay, beads, and glass, among other mediums. Work by Richard Artschwager, Mike Kelley, Shio Kusaka, and Sterling Ruby is included.
Shio Kusaka, (line 5), 2010 © Shio Kusaka
“Grandi quadri miei con piccoli quadri di altri”
Through February 20, 2022
Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
In this exhibition, Albert Oehlen: “Big Paintings by Me with Small Paintings by Others”, select works from Oehlen’s personal art collection are on view alongside some of his most significant paintings. In staging this large-scale exhibition, Oehlen aims to make relationships perceptible between his artworks and those by artists whose practices he has long admired. Work by Richard Artschwager, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, and Christopher Wool, among others, is included.
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf
February 29–August 23, 2020
Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
This retrospective, curated by Germano Celant and Manuel Cirauqui, celebrates Richard Artschwager’s diverse artistic production. By subtly altering the familiar, Artschwager’s art challenges accepted notions of the real and encourages unconventional ways of seeing. This exhibition has traveled from the Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto in Italy.
Installation view, Richard Artschwager, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, October 12, 2019–February 2, 2020. Artwork © 2020 Richard Artschwager/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Luca Meneghel
October 12, 2019–February 2, 2020
Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy
This retrospective, curated by Germano Celant, celebrates Richard Artschwager’s diverse artistic production. By subtly altering the familiar, Artschwager’s art challenges accepted notions of the real and encourages unconventional ways of seeing.
Richard Artschwager, Self-Portrait, 2003 © 2019 Richard Artschwager/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York