Lawrence Weiner


Published 1991

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Lawrence Weiner born 1942
Lithograph on paper
Image: 709 × 508 mm
Presented by the artist 2005


This is one of two open edition posters (Tate P20269-P20270) designed by the artist for his solo show ‘SPHERES OF INFLUENCE’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, from 25 January – 3 March 1991. The two posters are similar, with the exhibition title and the artist’s name printed at the top left in green ink in uppercase lettering using the sans serif typeface Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed. In the centre of the image is a shape with two sets of intersecting fine black parallel lines bisecting an ovoid form. The rectangle formed by the intersecting lines is coloured green. The four pie-shaped segments outlined by the edge of the oval and the parallel lines of the cross are die cut. An additional die cut rectangular shape is below this ovoid motif, just above the ICA logo and the location of the exhibition, ‘LONDON’. The distinction between the two posters is at the bottom edge of each image. The poster catalogued as Tate P20269 has two lines of green text detailing the dates and opening times of Weiner’s exhibition and the address and telephone number of the ICA. The text also credits the artist and the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, which was then Weiner’s London gallery. In place of this text Tate P20270 has two parallel green lines across the image’s bottom edge.

These posters advertised the exhibition but also formed part of the installation on display. Like Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997; see Event Poster S.O. 36, 1979, Tate P79075) Weiner conceives of his exhibition posters as functional marketing tools and aesthetic objects in themselves. The SPHERES OF INFLUENCE installation also comprises five statement works (Tate T12006-T12010). When they were first shown at the ICA the poster featuring the descriptive text was reproduced and installed edge to edge covering a wall in the main exhibition space as well as on a wall leading into the ICA’s lower gallery. This installation was recently recreated using an adapted poster for a display of the artist’s work at Tate Modern.

Weiner’s work has always been characterised both by its strong conceptual nature and by the graphic pictorial quality of its manifestations. He is best known for his ‘statement’ works which exist as language with the potential to be displayed or acted out. The flexibility of presentation suggests an egalitarian approach to art making. However, the distinctive style of Weiner’s statement works owes a great deal to his aesthetic approach, which has had a pronounced influence on contemporary graphic design and typography. Throughout his career the artist has produced works on paper including posters, drawings and books.

These posters exemplify aspects of the artist’s clean and precise visual style. The motif of crossed lines bisecting an ovoid form is the signature image of SPHERES OF INFLUENCE works and recurs in a group of related drawings (Tate T12011-T12018). This diagrammatic form suggests a point of convergence in the crossed paths of the parallel lines, with the ovoid shapes expressing the parameters of the ‘spheres of influence’ of the title.

Further reading:
Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Alexander Alberro, Alice Zimmerman and David Batchelor, Lawrence Weiner, London 1998.
‘Lawrence Weiner: SPHERES OF INFLUENCE’, exhibition leaflet, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1991.
Liz Kotz and Carlos Basualdo, Lawrence Weiner: Until It Is, exhibition catalogue, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio 2002.

Rachel Taylor
December 2005

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

You might like

In the shop