Thursday, September 13, 2012

Artschwager's Door)


Yesterday, I wrote on my encounter with Richard Artschwager's art, and I described a door with a brace. After posting my blog entry, I wondered what had become of that odd door, so I typed "Artschwager" into Google's search engine, and before I even had time to click "Enter," the above image appeared, almost as though it had been waiting for me to knock! Even more uncanny, the photo was taken at the very exhibition that I visited, there in the Berkeley Art Museum, way back in 1984! Here's what the Constance Lewallen wrote about this door in the museum's Matrix 71 brochure for the Artschwager exhibition (March 15, 1984 - May 15, 1984):
Richard Artschwager once said, "I am making objects for non-use . . . by killing off the use part, non-use aspects are allowed living space, breathing space." Door), the new wall sculpture by Artschwager that is the focus of the current MATRIX exhibition, consists of what appears to be a full-scale wood door and frame placed against the gallery wall and an adjacent brace-shaped wood relief sculpture that is nearly the same height. Although all of Artschwager's objects either reproduce architectural elements (doors, windows) or resemble furniture (tables, chairs), they are always altered in form and context. Although outfitted with an elegant blown-glass knob, the door is decidedly non-functional -- it can never be opened. In addition, the door is oddly proportioned (too wide for its height), and the exaggeratedly large painted-on wood grain pattern looks blatantly artificial. Artschwager calls this process of alteration "warping." By covering a wood surface with an imitation of wood (in paint or, in other works, with a veneer of wood-grain patterned Formica), he is, as he put it in a recent conversation, "painting what is already there in the place where it is." Artschwager in this way investigates the distinction between a real door and the falsification of a door, or between "real-life" and the art object.
The words "warping" and "falsification" link with what the artist's daughter, Eva, told me about her father's highly intellectualized experimental approach to conceptual art, and I'm inferring that he warps and falsifies his artworks "to see how far an object can be distorted, yet retain its identity," as Eva expressed it.

But I wonder about the spelling, for the text above writes "Door)," while the photo has "Dorr)." Perhaps the latter is more appropriate, for it warps the spelling toward the limits of conceptuability.

Yet . . . why not "Dorr}"? Or at least "Door}"?

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