Lawrence Weiner, born in 1942 in Bronx, New York, is one of the most important representatives of conceptual art, a form of art production developed and established in the sixties. The term designates various approaches and positions having a concept of work in common, in which all formal and material aesthetics are abandoned in favour of giving information on structures, defining the work as a system of relationships in which the viewer is included. Lawrence Weiner summarised the concept of his work in a programmatic statement:
1. THE ARTIST CAN CARRY OUT THE WORK HIMSELF / 2. THE WORK CAN BE PRODUCED BY ANOTHER PERSON / 3. THE WORK NEEDN'T BE CARRIED OUT / ALL POSSIBILITIES ARE OF EQUAL VALUE AND CORRESPOND TO THE ARTIST'S INTENTION / THE DECISION ON THE WAY OF CARRYING OUT LIES WITH THE RECIPIENT AT THE MOMENT OF TAKING OVER.
Since 1967, Lawrence Weiner exclusively uses language as the medium of his work. He works with sentences and/or parts of sentences which he conveys via books, posters, wall writings, but also acoustically on records. The sentences or fragments of sentences frequently indicate places or are descriptions of conditions and circumstances pertaining to the respective context. Idioms of a specific language are also used. His works, however, are fundamentally different from literature. Their translation into the respective language of the country in which the exhibition takes place demonstrates the equal value of the languages constituting the context of the work and influencing and altering its reception. In an interview from April, 1989, Weiner states: "Literature is an attempt to express within the context of a narrative or non-narrative structure the relationships between people, and art expresses the relationships between people and objects. Poetry is essentially non-translatable; it is possible to render an approximate translation, but poetry is made to show the beauty, the form, and the meaning of language itself. And my work, from the beginning, is designed to be translated into a physical shape or into other languages. Literature essentially deals with subjective reality, art with objective reality."
Lawrence Weiner's artistic practice constructs readable structures using various materials, with the book, as a standardized item of use, having outstanding significance for the presentation of his work.
In the sixties, the artist's book was established as an artistic means of expression. By rejecting the traditional use of a book for illustrating literary texts, artists defined these books as objects of artistic practice. They again took up concepts of avant-garde movements of the 1910s and 20s and expanded them: the book created by the artist had the function of being a tool for propagating and dispersing artistic concepts. A new, autonomous medium was thus placed alongside painting and sculpture.
(Essay taken from http://www.portikus.de/ArchiveA0017.html)