Materials : PVC canvas stretched over an aluminium frame
Collection : NMNM
From the outset of his creative career, Richard Artschwager stated that he wanted to make ‘useless objects’—art that would generate visual and physical encounters in real time and a shared space. For sixty years, he produced paintings, sculptures and drawings that subvert our perception of everyday ...
From the outset of his creative career, Richard Artschwager stated that he wanted to make ‘useless objects’—art that would generate visual and physical encounters in real time and a shared space. For sixty years, he produced paintings, sculptures and drawings that subvert our perception of everyday life and objects, by taking the familiar and making it unusual. In 1967-1968, the artist began work on a series of pieces for which he would eventually become famous, the “blps” (pronounced ‘blip’). These oblong shapes, often black, were to be found scattered on the walls of museums and galleries, and in public spaces. Building on Artschwager’s exploration of punctuation, the “blps” are periods that have been “accidentally or deliberately elongated”. A black punctuation mark that strangely appears not to actually punctuate any sentence, the “blp” enriched his discoveries of the artistic potential of new industrial materials such as Formica and Celotex. The artist created breathing spaces, non-places that he placed into daily life, inviting the viewer to consider space as a semantic whole to be read by following a physical or mental pathway. With his “blps”, Richard Artschwager took part in a number of major exhibitions in the 1960s and 70s, including “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form”, created by Harald Szeeman in 1969. There, he presented forty “blps” in and around the Kunsthalle in Bern.
Richard Artschwager was an American painter and sculptor born on 26 December 1923 in Washington, D.C. After studying at Cornell University, he was mentored by the pioneer of abstract art, Amédée Ozenfant. He was injured during World War II. His early work consisted of abstract paintings that referred to his upbringing in New Mexico, and he enjoyed success with his minimalist sculptures. During his career he came to be associated with various movements, from Pop Art to Op Art, and from Minimalism to Conceptual Art. Artschwager defied categorisation, instead creating his own unique blend of humorous and inventive works. “Sculpture is for the touch, painting is for the eye. I wanted to make sculpture for the eye and painting for the touch,” he said of his artistic practice. Artschwager’s work has been the subject of several major exhibitions, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The artist died on 9 February 2013 in Albany, New York State, at the age of 89