"My pictures present information about the 'reception' of artworks."
"Making works of art whose supports are consistently drawn from the lowest rungs of commodity culture, from matchbooks, from dime-store glassware, but also from the visual vocabularies of journalistic and commercial photography, Louise Lawler's relation to these supports is not ironic but meditative, almost loving."
The central image in Louise Lawler's exhibition of new photographs at Metro Pictures is Andy Warhol's "Silver Clouds." Lawler's photographs of two installation views of Warhol's clouds are exhibited in the gallery in two sizes and a rainbow of vivid colors. The installation is a flat shadowed, multicolored, photographic simulation of the multiple helium-filled pillows of the famous original Warhol piece.
In addition to this witty acknowledgement of Warhol's enormous influence on art during the past 25 years, Lawler includes new images from recent Christie's contemporary art auctions that show works by her contemporaries Jeff Koons and Robert Gober, among other auction favorites. A more sober edition of nine striking black and white prints that on closer inspection shows a Calder mobile lying against a white ground was photographed in the storage area of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Each of the nine prints is framed in a different bright color that provides a typically subtle and Lawler-esque comment on the nature of multiples and the desire to exercise individual taste.
For the past 20 years, Lawler has photographed "art" as presented in private homes, in museums, galleries, auction houses, public buildings and in museum and gallery storage areas. Lawler is fascinated by what "happens" to the art object after it leaves the artist's studio — where it goes, how it's displayed, how it's valued, what it means. In a Lawler photograph taken in a private home, the furnishings and objects surrounding the art are given as much attention as the art; in a museum, the view out of the window next to the artwork; in an auction house, the label identifying the artwork. Lawler shows us how our perception of art is affected by the environment that surrounds it and how it in turn affects all aspects of that environment.
Over the years Lawler has ventured into areas of ordinary objects that are imbued with the status of "art" by virtue of selection and treatment, as in Lawler's crystal paperweights with art images drinking glasses with etched phrases, matchbooks with text, wall labels with image and text, as well as her carefully crafted exhibition announcements, titles for shows, and in the case of a group show at the Museum of Modern Art, napkins for the museum cafe.
Lawler has had one-person museum exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford (1984); The Museum of Modern Art, New York ("Projects," 1987); The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1990); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1993); Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva (1994); Munich Kunstverein, Munich (1995); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (1997). She was included in "The Museum As Muse" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1999) and will be in the 2000 Whitney Biennial.