Arranged by Donald Marron, Susan Brundage, Cheryl Bishop at Paine Webber, Inc., NYC
Louise Lawler American
Not on view
Lawler is a spy in the house of art, tracking modern and postmodern masterpieces as they wend their way from the pristine white cubes of galleries and carpeted walls of auction houses to corporate boardrooms and homes of private collectors. In 1982, for her first solo exhibition at Metro Pictures, she created a display of works by her stable mates entitled "Arranged by Louise Lawler." She "appropriated" their pictures in the style for which the gallery's artists were known and was paid a consultant's standard 10 percent of the total price. Lawler also showed a series of black-and-white images of works of art arranged by curators, art advisors, and even her own dealers.
Arranged by Donald Marron, Susan Brundage, and Cheryl Bishop at Paine Webber, Inc. is both deadpan and poignant. Unlike the trophy paintings and sculpture hung proudly in reception areas, this trio of Lichtenstein multiples is lower down on the value scale and thus suitable for the decor of an office. The pictures hover like flies vying for the attention of a pair of anonymous bankers who ignore the "art" while struggling to send a fax. Lawler's diminution of her role as an "author" is meant both to highlight the collaboration of others (here, Paine Webber CEO, Castelli Gallery rep, and corporate curator) and to direct the viewer outside the boundaries of the image and toward the real life of which art is always a part. It is unlikely, however, that any of the arrangers appreciated the irony that Lichtenstein's pictures, originally meant to acknowledge (with a wink) their own status as commodities, now adorned the walls of an office copy room. What Lawler reveals is that the meaning of the artwork lies not in its origins but in its destiny.