I'm interested in your idea of the surrogates or
substitutes. The Formica sculptures were the first use of the substitute.
Is there a relationship to the drawings?
I just finished a
drawing where I roughed out the drawing, and it wasn't all that different
from jockeying Formica around. The only thing with Formica is you can do a
lot of things with it, but then it's limiting. It can be very powerful. It
has an image that stays on the surface, it doesn't do any of the things
one can do using other means.
The Formica engages and disengages
I taught for a week in Madrid in Spanish. One of
the exercises I gave was to take a road map and cut a round hole in the
road map and then fill in the hole. Someone else gets the disc and extends
That reminds me of the drawings at the Deutsche
Untitled, 1981, Deutsche Bank
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
Untitled, 2001, Deutsche Bank
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
This is really one of the best things I've done. The space
thing there, it seems like it worked better.
Germano Celant came up with an interesting curve ball in reference
to the baroque and your work.
wrote about how the baroque "used technology to resolve problems of
construction" as well as the idea of "transforming material without
intellectual mediation being at the very heart of the baroque heresy."
Get rid of gravity and you have baroque or chaos. You get these elegant lines
— you've got them in Egyptian and Minoan sculpture. Baroque is supposed to
lift things up, it's anti-gravity.
You don't show the labor. Do you know
Karin Davie's paintings? Her oversized swirls connect to your marbleized
Clay Ketter is another artist that comes to mind in terms of your history
of making furniture.
Chair, 1987-90 ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
I'm thinking of Bob
Mangold's recent things, which are a lot slower than Davie's paintings.
G.W. Bush, 2002 ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
There's a thread there. On a more personal note, you fought in World War II —
Lichtenstein was in the same unit —
I only found out
later. He was an engineer. That means mud.
What artists are you
Brice Marden is the best painter. I'm interested in his painting.
Does the work of
Chuck Close interest you?
Chuck and I are buddies, oh, yeah,
very much so.
I was thinking about Chuck Close while we were
talking about Lefrak and the Apartment, especially in terms of how you
broke down and gridded out spaces. How you let that sense of life emerge
from the subsections, which is obviously what Chuck Close has dedicated
Chuck took that to a place and of course I envy him
that, I totally admire him. Anyone who says they have that kind of
admiration without a bit of envy is just lying. We can be glad those
paintings exist, they're nice to have around.
They're amazing paintings.
Oh, God, yeah. He grew up in simple
circumstances and decided to be an artist, and his parents were thrilled
that he was going to be an artist. My history is a little different. It
broke my father's heart.
Because he wanted you to be a scientist?
But your mother understood.
No, she was troubled.
She said: "What are you going to live on?"
know it would work out.
I'm sorry my father didn't live to see
that I actually accomplished something. It's too bad.
Cheryl Kaplan is an artist, writer and curator. She lives in New York.
Her writing has appeared in Flash Art, smock, tema celeste, BOMB and Art
Copyright for all images
of Richard Artschwager's work: VG Bild -Kunst Bonn, 2003
Richard Artschwager: Up and Down/Back and Forth
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