I finally went to the Whitney and saw the Larry Weiner (closing Feb 10), followed by the Kara Walker (closing Feb 3). Afterwards, we needed Turkish mezes and a drink or two: because we were moved and filled, and needed to digest. More on Kara Walker's amazing show later; for the moment, remember Roberta Smith's review of the LW show - it's SO right on... go see both before they close.
So here we are. Just about any scrap of canvas or even paper by Andy Warhol is worth at least a million dollars and usually several. Richard Prince’s retro “Nurse” paintings have cleared $6 million less than five years after they were made. And Jeff Koons’s least-interesting baubles, despite glimmers of anti-bauble intent, go for as much as $23 million.
Be grateful, then, for Lawrence Weiner’s mind-stretching 40-year retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is respite, wake-up call and purification rite all in one. It should be required viewing for anyone interested in today’s art, especially people who frequent contemporary art auctions.
A joint effort of the Whitney and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, this profuse exhibition has been organized by Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s chief curator, and Ann Goldstein, the Los Angeles museum’s senior curator. It honors a Conceptual artist who has made history, and plenty of memorable artworks, while influencing Barbara Kruger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Tony Feher, among others. Yet Mr. Weiner has largely and quite deliberately skipped over the production and marketing of salable, portable, immutable objects.
Image Source courtesy Centre Pompidou.
While you're at the Whitney, check out floor 2, New Acquisitions: Hans Haacke's legendary piece, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971 (detail above). Via Wikipedia :
One of his best-known works, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971 exposed the questionable transactions of Harry Shapolsky's real-estate business between 1951 and 1971. Haacke's 1971 one-artist show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which was to include this work and which also made an issue of the business and personal connections of the museum's trustees, was cancelled by the museum's director six weeks before the opening.