Richard Artschwager’s blps in empty & useless spaces

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Richard Artschwager - Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008, Plastic bristles on a mahogany core painted with latex, 165.1 x 55.9 x 55.9 cm (65 x 22 x 22 in), installation view, Gagosian Gallery, New York

Richard Artschwager – Exclamation Point (Chartreuse), 2008, Plastic bristles on a mahogany core painted with latex, 165.1 x 55.9 x 55.9 cm (65 x 22 x 22 in), installation view, Gagosian Gallery, New York, photo: Robert McKeever

Published: December 26, 2019

Last updated:

Who was Richard Artschwager?

For over three decades, Richard Artschwager (1923-2013) had stayed in the New York scene without a fair recognition of his work. People identified him with minimalism, conceptualism, and pop art without relating to him any category.

Richard Artschwager on Cape Cod, 1998, photo Ann Artschwager

Richard Artschwager on Cape Cod, 1998, photo: Ann Artschwager

He had been making sculptures resembling furniture out of wood grain Formica and smudged soot paintings. In 1988, his doors to limelight opened as a new concept, known as Neo-Geo, surfaced. He connected to three former friends, who supplied him with material and a taste of the idea.

Richard Artschwager - Portrait II, 1963, Formica on wood, 172.7 x 66 x 33 cm (68 x 26 x 13 in.), Yale University Art Gallery

Richard Artschwager – Portrait II, 1963, Formica on wood, 172.7 x 66 x 33 cm (68 x 26 x 13 in.), Yale University Art Gallery

In the Whitney survey from October 2012 to February 2013, named Richard Artschwager, he revealed his new works. From the presentation, it becomes clear the 88-year-old still had an eye for new trends. With the use of Formica, Richard introduced a faux naturalism to sculpture, bettering the works of artists who use computers. While Richard embraced faux in his works, he also relied on technical innovations to get a better angle and produced authentic artwork.

blps

Richard referred to some of his works as blps and said he envisioned the name and designs while working at UC Davis in California back in the late 1960s. The revelation led him to anywhere he could think of. He went to streets, stairways, subways, architecture, and also any other places he thought needed highlighting. Richard used materials like wool and hair, all of varying sizes. Everywhere he went, he left a mark with blps before capping his journey at the Whitney Museum.

Richard Artschwager - Blp at the Turtle Bay Steam Plant, New York, c. 1968.

Richard Artschwager – Blp at the Turtle Bay Steam Plant, New York, c. 1968.

At the Whitney, he collaborated with the museum and High Line Art to install the blps. They installed a group of the blps around and along the Highline. Anyone could view them in tandem from the Whitney Museum and the Highway. The Whitney Museum exhibition also explored blps history, Richard’s 100 locations, and review of the blps to be installed at the institute and other blps projects.

The public installations comprise black and white dots shaped like lozenges to draw attention to hidden buildings and structures. The blps presented an opportunity for Richard to explore empty and useless looking spaces.

Video: Richard Artschwager installing blps
1 min 54 sec
Video: blps at the High Line
1 min 35 sec
Video: Richard Artschwager speaks about the blps
5 min 56 sec
Photos
Richard Artschwager - blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 - February 2013

Richard Artschwager – blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 – February 2013, photo: Austin Kennedy

Richard Artschwager - blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 - February 2013

Richard Artschwager – blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 – February 2013, photo: Austin Kennedy

Richard Artschwager - blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 - February 2013

Richard Artschwager – blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 – February 2013, photo: Austin Kennedy

Richard Artschwager - blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 - February 2013

Richard Artschwager – blp, installation view, High Line, New York, October 2012 – February 2013, photo: Austin Kennedy

Richard Artschwager - blps, 1976, installation view, MoMA PS1

Richard Artschwager – blps, 1976, installation view, MoMA PS1, photo: Matthew Septimus

Richard Artschwager - Exclamation Point (Black), 2012, installation view, Gagosian Gallery, New York

Richard Artschwager – Exclamation Point (Black), 2012, installation view, Gagosian Gallery, New York, photo: Robert McKeever

All images: Richard Artschwager unless otherwise noted.

 

 

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