Lawler is a spy in the house of art, casting sidelong glances at modernist masterpieces as they wend their way from the pristine white cubes of galleries and the carpeted walls of auction previews to museum storerooms, corporate boardrooms, and cloistered private homes. Her career began in the early 1980s, when the art market began to partake of the speculative frenzy of Wall Street and pictures provided instant cultural capital for their owners. In its exposure of the art world's usually invisible machinery of possession, display, and circulation, Lawler's work fits comfortably within the tradition of institutional critique that began with Duchamp's Readymades and continues through the postwar period in the work of Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, and Michael Asher. Yet her effortlessly cool, deliberately neutral images are never cheap shots or tendentious sermons and, as Walker Evans once wrote of Diane Arbus, there is more of wonder than sociopolitical conviction in her gaze. In this recent work, Lawler parts the curtains in a dimly lit Parisian apartment to reveal a work on paper by the artist Cy Twombly.
the artist; [Metro Pictures, New York]; Gary and Sarah Wolkowitz, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Photographs from the Collection X," December 14, 2004–September 11, 2005.