Lawrence Weiner

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The Gallery of Modern Art, GoMA, is excited to announce the presentation of a new, commissioned public artwork by the American artist Lawrence Weiner.

Lawrence Weiner, born in Brooklyn (1942) and currently living and working in New York, is one of the figureheads of a generation of artists that transformed the material make-up and experience of contemporary art in the 20th Century. He was a key contributor to early developments in Conceptual Art in the 1960s, alongside other world-renowned artists such as Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman. Since that time, Weiner has primarily worked in sculpture and for more than 40 years this has consisted of installations of text applied directly onto gallery walls. He sees language as sculpture in the sense that it can be constructed like any other material. Aside from his sculptures, he exhibits film and video and drawings on paper.

Lawrence Weiner has an impressive track record of making artworks for outdoor spaces around the world. This commission for GoMA creates the only publicly-sited artwork by Weiner in Scotland and one of only a few in Britain. It also represents the first public artwork commissioned by Glasgow Museums for GoMA since it opened in 1996.The texts ‘SOMEWHERE / SOMEHOW’ and ‘ALONG THE WAY / COME WHAT MAY,’ are embedded into paving stones on Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow. In materials, sent by Wiener to support the commission, he sets this text set out as an art work in itself framing why he chose these who poetic phrases for outside GoMA. He wrote

‘ART IS NOT A METAPHOR

IT IS USED BY PEOPLE TO ENGENDER A METAPHOR
IN RELATION TO THEIR OWN NEEDS & DESIRES

THE USE OF A PUBLIC ART GALLERY
AS THE PLINTH FOR A SCULPTURE
PLACES THE POTENTIAL OF AN OBJECT PER SE
WITHIN THE REALM OF THE PUBLIC TO DO WITH AS THEY MAY’

For GoMA this has many interesting ideas and touches on discussions the GoMA team have as an institution. ALONG THE WAY / COME WHAT MAY seems like an invitation to the public to think about where they are going, whereas, SOMEWHERE / SOMEHOW talks about the space between idea and creation and of what possibility lies there. The text also talks about the use of a public art gallery and the potential for the public to respond. GoMA itself sits on a shallow plinth, raised slightly above the pavement, it is on this ‘plinth’ that the work is placed. However the ‘plinth’ or entrance to GoMA is a public meeting place. A square for conversation and exchange as it has been for centuries since it was the city’s Exchange Building. The building itself can actually be invisible to some with people wondering what it is or are they permitted to come through its grand looking pillars? Weiner’s text highlights this moment of discovery and potential and activates the space outside, but gives that power to the public to do with as they may.

Weiner’s work has inspired generations of artists around the world including those living and working in Glasgow. He is frequently acknowledged by Douglas Gordon, the most celebrated artist associated with contemporary art from Glasgow, as a key influence on his practice. The same can be said for Glasgow-based Turner Prize winners such as Martin Boyce and Richard Wright. Weiner’s relationship with the city of Glasgow and its artists began in the early 1990s when he was invited to hold a solo exhibition at Transmission Gallery, a volunteer-run space programmed by an all-artist committee. Douglas Gordon was amongst those on the Transmission committee at that time. Weiner’s Transmission project resulted in a landmark, world-class exhibition for a gallery which, to this day, receives only a small amount of public funding but is recognised internationally as a centre of innovative practice for the artist community in Glasgow. Following the Transmission exhibition, Weiner exhibited in a similarly influential group exhibition at Tramway, Glasgow in 1995 and in 2000 he returned to Glasgow for an exhibition of his film and video work. These projects are represented in the documentary archive material from Weiner’s studio, included in the acquisition, which GoMA plans to display some time in the future. They highlight Weiner’s influential presence in the city and friendship with artists that live and work here.

2014 is a time of great celebration of Contemporary Art for Glasgow and Scotland, with Glasgow International Festival of Art 2014 and GENERATION, 25 years of Contemporary Art, one of the major cultural offers for the Commonwealth Games and now the opening of Art From Elsewhere. This commission literally carves in stone Glasgow’s roots in International Contemporary art and its commitment to its future as a world class city for Contemporary Art. From this commission in 2014 we look forward to Glasgow hosting the Turner Prize in 2015 and GoMA’s 20th birthday in 2016. This work will be a milestone for the city and show the commitment Glasgow and Glasgow Museums has for supporting, collecting, commissioning and producing Contemporary Art.

Martin Craig
Contemporary Art Curator
GoMA, Glasgow

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2 comments
  1. clare mc cann said:

    looks like it belongs there or has always been there and suggests lightness and uplift and ease. Like not taking life too seriously . I for one am enjoying the piece. Clare Mc Cann (Goma Guide)

    • Thanks Clare completely agree and wonder how many people are thinking the same and that they just didn’t see it before!

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