In the early 1970s, Louise Lawler began looking critically at the ways in which art was displayed outside the artist’s studio, photographing other artists’ works, but cropping her compositions in unexpected ways in order to shift attention to the works’ surroundings. A staple in art historical discussions of institutional critique, Lawler’s photographs challenge the viewer to think about the context in which works of art are displayed, and subsequently the overlooked aesthetic choices made by the places in which they are viewed, sold, and stored. Examining settings ranging from museums to collectors’ homes, from storage spaces to auction houses, Lawler’s practice provides a critical insight into understanding the way we experience art.
For the High Line, Lawler presents Triangle (adjusted to fit) (2008/2009/2011), an image taken in a room at Sotheby’s in New York which features works by Minimalism and Conceptual Art icons Donald Judd, Frank Stella, and Sol LeWitt. These three artworks are interrupted by the wavering shadow of a foot exiting the picture on the left, and are given almost equal weight by their reflections in the polished brown floor of the exhibition space. The photograph has been stretched to fill the entire length of the 25 x 75 foot billboard. Part of a series of stretched photographs presented as adhesive vinyl murals Lawler began making in 2006 in which she expands her images to fit the location of their display, the work suggests large-scale advertising formats even when viewed in more intimate, interior settings. This relatively new body of work highlights Lawler’s shifts in view point as the image printed on the vinyl surface stretches, and embody yet another chapter in her decades-long engagement with spaces and methods of display.
Photos by Timothy Schenck.