Monday, January 14, 2008

The Call of Nuance

Lawrence Weiner’s retrospective at the Whitney is a show of text-based works that are mostly meant to take shape in the viewer’s mind. For example, a wall reads “A GLACIER VANDALISED” and the possibilities are endless, although object-less. Because I’m interested in how text can be used in visual art (if it can be), and especially because Roberta Smith spoke so highly of the work, I went excited. But, when I left, I felt like a balloon deflating.

The problem, I’m certain, is that the galleries are overcrowded and anti-climactic. Both, are points that Christian Vivernos-Fauné, the Village Voice art critic, who I admire more and more, makes this week, in his essay about the weaknesses of said Weiner exhibition. But, in light of my last post, it was this point in his review that most caught my eye:

“Weiner’s aphoristic pronouncements […] today constitute a full-blown style, painted in black and white or in colorful block letters, that carries the unmistakable whiff of the narrowly casuist, the hermetically progressive, but above all the arty.” [emphasis mine]

I do know what he means: preciously deliberate.
My conclusion: Gotta be a member of the arts club to get away with using the “a word.”

1 comment:

Michael Konrad said...


I had an opposite reaction. I'm a fan of Weiner, but I was expecting to be a bit let down by the show (probably because of all the reviews I read). While I agree that the show was overcrowded, I left the exhibition totally excited by the work. I just wrote about it on my blog, so have a look for my take on his work.