Page 13 - Studio-International-January-1974
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The years from 196o to 1967 were those in   man-made signs which in the absence of men   Siegelaub, dates from the previous year and it
        which Ad Reinhardt produced his square    have become objects'.8   I could quote Lawrence   represents much more of a departure.
        paintings in which internal relationships of form   Weiner to similar effect, 'All you can find out   Statements9   is a book, not a catalogue. No
        were progressively reduced to a point at which   about from a painting is art'.     fewer than seven of the entries relate to titles
        the existence of the paintings as any sort of   Square Removal from a Rug in Use of 1969   in the January 69 catalogue, but there are no
        entity at all depended on the appositional   differs from the canvases that preceded it only   catalogue numbers and no illustrations.
        contrast of their containing environment. This   in the texture of the cloth. The word 'art' does   The term 'statement' is a familiar one in
        `minimal' art has elicited a multiplicity of labels,   still carry a primary anticipation of painting,   artistic usage. If  I   can again quote as an example,
        but to a point they are mutually reinforcing. If   and much of the apparently most radical art of   Ad Reinhardt published 'Three Statements'
        the 'purification' of art yielded a residue of   recent years can best be understood as painting   in Artforum in 1966. The first, 'Abstract
        `primary structures', it followed not only that   which has climbed down off the wall — but it   Painting, Sixty by Sixty Inches Squire 196o',
        there was an ABC to art but also that within   would be the first time if a rug were hung on a   begins:
        the context of that line of reasoning A (and B   gallery wall to be admired. If one feels   `This painting is my painting if I paint it.
        and C) stand for art without the need of further   nonetheless that it would not make sense, for   This painting is your painting if you paint it.
        elaboration, and this goes as much for Walter de   instance, to show Wolfgang Hahn's rug in an   This painting is any painter's painting.
        Maria's lines in the desert or for Lawrence   exhibition, this is not because the square   This painting is anyone's painting with few
        Weiner's own Square Removal from a Rug in   removal is not art, but because the gallery is not   exceptions.
        Use as for the rectangle he removed from his   the use-context of the rug. This distinction,   This painting is personal, impersonal,
        canvas at the request of his patron; but then so   however, is only deducible from the verbal   transpersonal.
        it would too for the rectangle of the canvas alone,   designation of the title. Does that mean then   This painting belongs to anyone who wants it.
        or either of the stripes alone, or for the sprayed   that actualization was a completely irrelevant   This painting does not belong to anyone who
        paint alone. The multiplicity of elements   exercise to prove a point that should not have   doesn't want it.
        suggests a significance to their mode of   needed to be made ? For my part, I  am quite   This painting is free (not a free-for-all) for
        combination which stands in the way of their   certain it does not. Without an actual hole in an   anyone, with few exceptions.'10
        literal self-identification as art.       actual rug, the words could easily be sent to an   From my conversations with Lawrence
          The possibility of a literal reading of art-  exhibition — or anywhere else — and that might   Weiner, it did not seem that Ad Reinhardt
        objects without expressive or referential   be convenient, but without an actual hole and   held any particular significance for him, and
        overtones was perhaps the major aspiration of   rug, or at least the distinct possibility of actual   yet I think the statements of Ad Reinhardt
        Minimal Art. If this was sought through   holes and rugs, the ink-marks on the page, or   must have a general significance in the
        purification and clarification of the objects   the sequence of vocal sounds, need hardly be   development of linguistic forms in art. He was
        themselves, one is aware that 'clarity' and   words at all, or even those particular ink-marks   also a major contributor to the body of
        `purity' are relative to the systems within   or vocal sounds, if there happened to be others   Minimal Art principles from which Lawrence
        which they are to be defined, which in practice   that looked or sounded prettier.   Weiner's mature art takes its start. There are
        means to language. The clarity of Minimal Art   The achievement of Square Removal from   pre-echoes in this particular statement of
        or of the trench in Mr Topol's driveway comes   a Rug in Use is that it resolves the alternative   Lawrence Weiner's concern with the problems
        about through anticipation of the linguistic   possibilities of target-as-art and target-for-/   of ownership and authorship that arise with the
        terms in which they are to be clearly     target-practice. In stipulating the use-context   attainment of a definitive art-object and also of
        described. The objects themselves — and we see   of the rug as the context-as-art, it retains not   the more basic problem of the relationship of
        this in the development of Lawrence Weiner's   only the meaning-as-use of the rug, but also the   art to that object. For Ad Reinhardt, one thing
        own art — anticipate the decisive step from design   meaning-as-use of the terms of verbal   is clear, his paintings embody his art and his
        to designation, but one must add a rider to all   designation, and this is of more general   statements are statements about his art and
        this: in attaining clarity the objects do not   importance in Lawrence Weiner's art; that   about art in general. When, however, the object
        declare themselves absolutely but in relation to   the words on which the art construction is   is stripped down to the extent of Ad
        art, and as art.                          placed manage to sustain their meaning of 'art'   Reinhardt's paintings, and when the
          Ad Reinhardt wrote in 1965: 'A colour in art   from the position of their normal meaning as   statements present the cryptic fascination of
        is not a colour . . . dark grey in art is not dark   meaning-of-words-in-use.       Ad Reinhardt's copious writings, it is
        grey . . . a line in art is not a line . . form in art   The guidelines in the Seth Siegelaub   understandable if the attention of his audience
        is not form,', and even 'painting in art is not   catalogue are significant not primarily for their   should waiver between the two. When the art
         painting'.6  They are not colours, lines, forms   somewhat tortuous display of courtesy to the   objects, after 1960, are all the same — in theory
        and painting, because art — in contradistinction   artist's patrons, but as a means of holding the   rather more so than in practice — it is a moot
         to the pretensions to meaning of abstract   work in a state of suspension between words and   point if some of the statements refer to
        expressionism — is a transcendent activity within   things. In all, eight works by Lawrence   particular works or his oeuvre as a whole,
        which terms lose whatever functional      Weiner are listed, including Field cratered by   but this distinction becomes important in
        possibility they might have in the context of   simultaneous 1/3 lb. T.N.T. charges which in that   subsequent developments.
         `what is not art'. If the form of Ad Reinhardt's   context (and since the technique of removal had   Without getting caught up in contested
        exposition leaves any feeling of uncertainty, we   become as standard in its art connotations   terminology I should like to distinguish a type
         could quote the example of Rene Magritte who   as a square canvas) sounds very different from   of art such as that produced by Ian Burn,
        wrote under a painting of a pipe `Ce n'est pas   the Mill Valley holes. It is listed as a new work   Roger Cutforth and Mel Ramsden under the
         une pipe' (this is not a pipe). Leo Steinberg, in   of 1968.                       title of The Society for Theoretical Art and
         his book on Jasper Johns,7  explains that it is not   It is important to stress that Seth   Analysis where the art consists of the
         a pipe because you cannot smoke the painted   Siegelaub's catalogue is just that. If as a   theoretical analysis of the notion of art and the
         image. He goes on to point out the contrast with   catalogue it embodies the main aspects of the   isolation of conditions for the existence of art
         Johns whose painted targets might function   works it lists in the form of verbal information,   in general.11   This is a far cry from the art of
         quite satisfactorily for target-practice. But art   that is the result of the nature of the works and   Lawrence Weiner who uses language to
        and target-practice are alternative possibilities   not because there is anything very unusual   designate particular works of art. In our class-
        in the object. In another publication, Steinberg   about the publication. The earliest of Lawrence   discussion, he was very careful to point out in
        sums up his response, 'Only objects are left —     Weiner's books, also published by Seth     reply to a student's question that when he
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