Happy Birthday, Richard Artschwager!

Artsy Editorial
Dec 26, 2013 6:06PM

“There isn’t any art until some creature sees and consumes it. And has a reaction.” — Richard Artschwager

A major turning point for Richard Artschwager was in 1960, when the Catholic Church commissioned him to design a portable altar to be used on ships. He was working as a furniture designer at the time (shortly after, his furniture shop was destroyed by a fire), and the commission inspired him to re-think and re-materialize the everyday object.

Artschwager began to deceptively replace natural materials with synthetic ones; his methods included covering objects with a veneer of formica, and painting an exaggerated wood grain over wood. He would re-imagine black-and-white photographs in his paintings, often adding surface textures or inserting ironic visual cues. One major project, blps, was a series of ovular shapes that the artists would place in public places or at museums, drawing attention to buildings, walls and objects that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Drawing from Pop Art’s obsession with everyday objects, Minimalism’s purity of form, and maintaining a Conceptual framework, Artschwager developed a body of intriguing, often ambiguous work that consistently produced reactions. To honor the artist, who died early this year just shy of his 90th birthday, explore some of his finest works.

Artsy Editorial