Lawrence Weiner

Lawrence Weiner (born New York, February 10, 1942) is an American conceptual artist. He is one of the central figures in the formation of conceptual art in the 1960s.[1] His work often takes the form of typographic texts.

Lawrence Weiner
Laurence Weiner at the TYPO 2011 conference in London
Born (1942-02-10) February 10, 1942
Known forConceptual art

Early life and career

Weiner was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of a candy-store owner.[2] After graduating from Stuyvesant High School at 16,[3] he had a variety of jobs—he worked on an oil tanker, on docks, and unloading railroad cars. After studying at Hunter College for less than a year, he traveled throughout North America before returning to New York.[4]


Weiner is regarded as a founding figure of Postminimalism's Conceptual art, which includes artists like Douglas Huebler, Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Sol LeWitt.[5]

Weiner began his career as an artist as a very young man at the height of Abstract Expressionism. His debut public work/exhibition was at the age of 19, with what he called Cratering Piece. An action piece, the work consisted of explosives set to ignite simultaneously in the four corners of a field in Marin County, California. That work, as Weiner later developed his practice as a painter, became an epiphany for the turning point in his career.[6] His work in the early 1960s included six years of making explosions in the landscape of California to create craters as individual sculptures.[7] He is also known during his early work for creating gestures described in simple statements leading to the ambiguity of whether the artwork was the gesture or the statement describing the gesture: e.g."Two minutes of spray paint directly on the floor.." or " A 36" x 36" removal of lathing or support wall ..." (both 1968). In 1968, when Sol LeWitt came up with his Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, Weiner formulated his "Declaration of Intent" (1968):

1. The artist may construct the piece.

2. The piece may be fabricated.

3. The piece need not be built.

Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.

Weiner created his first book Statements in 1968, a small 64-page paperback with texts describing projects. Published by The Louis Kellner Foundation and Seth Siegelaub, "Statements" is considered one of the seminal conceptual artist's books of the era. He was a contributor to the famous Xeroxbook also published by Seth Siegelaub in 1968. Weiner's composed texts describe process, structure, and material, and though Weiner 's work is almost exclusively language-based, he regards his practice as sculpture, citing the elements described in the texts as his materials.[8]

An important aspect of audience participation in Weiner's work is site-specificity. In SOME LIMESTONE SOME SANDSTONE ENCLOSED FOR SOME REASON (1993) he recast the iron weighbridge of the Dean Clough carpet factory, incorporating the words of the title as an embossing inscription.[9]

Since the early 1970s, wall installations have been Weiner's primary medium, and he has shown at the Leo Castelli gallery. Nevertheless, Weiner works in a wide variety of media, including video, film, books, sound art using audio tape, sculpture, performance art, installation art, and graphic art. In 2007, he participated at the symposium "Personal Structures Time-Space-Existence" a project which was initiated by the artist Rene Rietmeyer. In 2008 an excerpt from his opera with composer Peter GordonThe Society Architect Ponders the Golden Gate Bridge – was issued on the compilation album Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records) produced by Mendi + Keith Obadike. In 2009 he participated in the art project Find Me, by Gema Alava, in company of artists Robert Ryman, Merrill Wagner and Paul Kos.


A comprehensive retrospective of Weiner's nearly 50-year career was organized by Ann Goldstein and Donna De Salvo at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2007–2008. Major solo exhibitions of the artist's work have been mounted at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1990), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1991), Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1991), Musée d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1991 and 1992), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1992), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1994), Philadelphia Museum of Art (1994), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1995), Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2000), Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (2004), and Tate Gallery in London (2006).,[10] Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1988/89 and in Arnhem (Sonsbeek) The Netherlands, in 1993. He has participated in Documenta V (1972), VI (1977), and VII (1982), as well as the 2005 Venice Biennale, the Biennale de São Paulo in 2006, and the Venice Biennale and European Cultural Centre in 2013 with his work 'The Grace of a Gesture'.[11]

List (selection)

Weiner is represented in New York City by Marian Goodman Gallery,[12] in London and Milan by Lisson Gallery, in Paris by Yvon Lambert Gallery,[13] in Los Angeles by Regen Projects, in London by BlainSouthern, in Reykjavik by i8 Galleri, in Tel Aviv by Dvir Gallery,[14] in Switzerland by Mai 36 Gallery.,[15] in Italy by Giorgio Persano Gallery and in Portugal by Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art.


Among his many honors are National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1976 and 1983), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994), Wolfgang Hahn Prize (1995), a Skowhegan Medal for Painting/Conceptual Art (1999), An Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA, (2013) and most recently Weiner was awarded the Roswitha Haftmann Prize, Zurich, Switzerland (2015).[16][17][18] On the occasion of the Drawing Center's 2012 Spring Gala, where Weiner was being honored for his contributions to contemporary art, fellow artist Ed Ruscha and Mason Williams created a three-minute tribute in the form of a parody of Bob Dylan's legendary music video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues" with placards featuring Weiner text pieces like "stars don't stand still in the sky" and "water in milk exists."[19]


  • 2012 : GREEN AS WELL AS BLUE AS WELL AS RED. Brest: Zédélé éditions , Reprint Collection. (First edition : London: Jack Wendler, 1972.)

Personal life

Weiner and his wife Alice[20] lived on Bleecker Street for over thirty years before moving to his current residence and studio in the West Village,[21] in what was once an old laundromat built in 1910 and was transformed into a five-level town house designed by the firm LOT-EK in 2008.[22]


  • Beate Reifenscheid und Dorothea van der Koelen; Arte in Movimento – Kunst in Bewegung, Dokumente unserer Zeit XXXIV; Chorus-Verlag; Mainz 2011; ISBN 978-3-926663-44-3
  • Alberro, Alexander; Zimmerman, Alice; Buchloch, Benjamin H.D. and Batchelor, David. Lawrence Weiner. London: Phaidon Press, 1998.
  • De Salvo, Donna and Goldstein, Ann (eds.) Lawrence Weiner: As Far as the Eye Can See. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007.
  • Fietzek, Gerti and Stemmrich, Gregor. (eds.) Having Been Said: Writings & Interviews of Lawrence Weiner 1968–2003. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2004.
  • Schwarz, Dieter (ed.) Lawrence Weiner: Books 1968–1989. Köln / Villeurbanne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König / Le Nouveau Musée, 1989.
  1. Artist Ranking: Top 100 Artists
  2. Louisa Buck (November 19, 2012), Lawrence Weiner: man of his word The Art Newspaper.
  3. Roberta Smith (November 16, 2007), The Well-Shaped Phrase as Art New York Times'.
  4. Lawrence Weiner Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine Guggenheim Collection.
  5. Roberta Smith (November 16, 2007), The Well-Shaped Phrase as Art New York Times'.
  6. Lawrence Weiner: En Route, February 24 – April 2, 2005 Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  7. "DIA Center Bio". Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  8. Lawrence Weiner, October 19 – November 23, 2002 Archived December 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Regen Projects, Los Angeles.
  9. Lawrence Weiner MoMA Collection, New York.
  10. Lawrence Weiner Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine Guggenheim Collection.
  11. "Lawrence Weiner: The Grace of a Gesture". Artsy. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  12. Marian Goodman Gallery
  13. Yvon Lambert
  14. Dvir Gallery
  15. Mai36 Gallery
  16. Lawrence Weiner Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  17. "Detail". Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  18. name, Site. "Lawrence Weiner receives 2015 Roswitha Haftmann Prize / Art Review". Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  19. Bill Power (May 1, 2012), How Do Artists Say I Love You? New York Times.
  20. Karen Wright (January 17, 2014), In the studio: Lawrence Weiner, artist The Independent.
  21. Geoff Manaugh (April 2010), Village People Dwell.
  22. Thessaly La Force (February 14, 2011), Studio Visit: Lawrence Weiner The Paris Review.
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