The estate of Lawrence Weiner, the late artist known for his unruly beard and philosophically minded typographic work, will be represented in Asia by Pace Gallery, as announced yesterday (August 10). With plans to feature one of Weiner’s language-based sculptures at the upcoming edition of Frieze Seoul, the gallery will also present a solo exhibition of Weiner’s work during the opening of Pace’s location in Seoul in 2024.
Weiner “was a revolutionary artist, reimagining the forms that art can take and the contexts in which it can be experienced,” said Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, in a statement. The renowned artist, who died in 2021 at age 79, is largely thought of as a pioneer of the Conceptual art movement for his use of language as his primary medium throughout his lengthy career.
Weiner’s 1997 ON THE LINE OFF THE LINE work will appear in Pace’s booth at Frieze Seoul 2023, which will run concurrently with a major survey of the artist’s work hosted by Seoul’s Amorepacific Museum of Art. Pace, which will represent the artist’s estate throughout Asia with a special emphasis on Korea, joins a roster of galleries already representing Weiner, such as Lisson, Marian Goodman, Mai 36 and Regen Projects.
Who was Lawrence Weiner?
Weiner frequently showed his work in both Europe and the U.S., often translating his text into languages such as French, Spanish, Mandarin and Icelandic. A 2012 exhibit at New York’s Jewish Museum, for example, showcased his work NO TREE NO BRANCH, which translated the Yiddish saying “All the stars in the sky have the same face” into English, Arabic and Hebrew.
Born in the South Bronx in 1942, Weiner briefly attended Hunter College before embarking on a hitchhiking trip across the U.S. during which he left small sculptures in his wake. His first official artwork, CRATERING PIECE, was created in 1960 when he forged sculptural crevices after setting off explosives in a California state park. A few years later, Weiner wrote a set of principles that have long served as a seminal motto for the world of Conceptual art. “The artist may construct the piece. The piece may be fabricated. 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,” read the declaration.
Describing his medium as “language+ the materials referred to,” Weiner used site-specific words and typography to adorn walls, floors, windows, manhole covers, buildings, books, posters and even a former Nazi munitions tower in Vienna. The latter featured his work SMASHED TO PIECES (IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT) in both English and German from the 1990s through 2016.
Often seen sporting a cap with a glass of whiskey in hand, Weiner used a self-designed font known as Margaret Seaworthy Gothic. He also took part in several noteworthy exhibitions focused on the history of the Conceptualism movement, such as “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form” at Switzerland’s Kunsthalle Bern in 1969; “Using Walls (Indoors)” at the Jewish Museum in 1970; and “Documenta 5” in Kassel, Germany in 1972.
While his earlier text-based sculptures described physical and literal actions of artwork creation, such as 1968’s A 36″ X 36″ REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALLBOARD FROM A WALL, his work later grappled with meaning and existentialism, focusing more on posing questions than answers.
Aside from his first major U.S. retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2007, Weiner’s work has been exhibited at institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center and London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, in addition to being included in charity auctions held by Leonardo DiCaprio. Besides sculpture, the artist went on to produce music, films, videos and books, including the 1968 artist book Statements.
“I really believe in art,” Weiner told Observer in 2019. “Which means the more people that try to make it—not try to make a marketable product, not try to fit in to please their teacher—that’s important to me.”