Tate St Ives Summer Season 2009: Gallery 5: Lawrence Weiner


Since the late 1960s, New York born artist Lawrence Weiner (b.1942) has been recognised as one of the leading figures of conceptual art. Weiner often works with typographic text, which he uses to communicate the content of each piece without specifying any of its physical qualities.

During the 1960s, debates about the constraints of the physical art object had led several artists, including Weiner, to propose that language might be equally, if not more, effective in framing and conveying an artistic idea. Having experimented with painting and sculpture, Weiner began to reduce his work to a series of descriptive statements.

In 1969 he issued a Declaration of Intent to accompany the statements, which argued:
1 The artist may construct the work
2 The work may be fabricated [by someone else]
3 The work need not be built [it does not need a material form to exist]
Each being consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision rests with the receiver on the occasion of receivership.

By this Weiner was asserting that, for him, the idea is as important as the object and the viewer must play an essential part in realising that idea.

This display comprises a cycle of ten wall text works from 1988, part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection of international contemporary art gifted by Anthony d’Offay to Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. All of the texts refer in a simple, but very evocative way, to the manipulation of objects or matter and have a powerfully sculptural quality: ‘CRUSHED BETWEEN COBBLESTONES’, ‘TUCKED IN AT THE CORNERS’ or ‘DAUBED WITH MUCK AND MIRE’. They are presented here in an arrangement specially designed for this particular space in Tate St Ives.