this issue contains
>> Exclusive: Richard Artschwager
>> "Pretty Hot Stuff"
>> "No guarantee" - Insights into the Work of Richard Artschwager
>> Double or Nothing: Some liked it Pop

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Untitled (Cat´s Eye View), 2000
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
Deutsche Bank Collection


It's a stopped moment in which everything appears to have a logical format, even at the height of the fury

In London there's this Picasso painting at the Tate Modern. It's kind of a fucked-up painting. We looked at this with the husband of Anne's friend, the Australian director Peter Weir, who made some great movies, such as Mosquito Coast. I said look at the frame, see the whole thing at once. That's the visual field. That opens up a lot. Everything is accessible. I call them remedies.

Throughout the writing on your work, there's a constant drone about elusiveness, that your work refuses categorization – as though it had to be categorized.

This makes me surly.

Your inclusion in Lawrence Alloway's show at the Whitney in 1974, "American Pop Art," might have fueled this talk. Critics still comment on how you manage to do sculpture, painting, drawing, and photography. After your Whitney retrospective in 1988, Donald Kuspit wrote that your art "hovers in an exalted limbo of its own narcissistic making."

I can go with that. If you take narcissism as a vehicle to pick your own brains -

Your work is often called enigmatic.

That's bad. Enigma happens when you're putting more into it than what's coming out. When you're getting cheated. Someone's got their finger on the scale. I had a background in science. I didn't take seriously the programmed art history. It's scholasticism. There's no attention paid to what actually happens and there's no essence. The apparatus generating the phenomenon is the getting of the art.

It 's a way of avoiding an experience with the work itself.

One does want to connect. That's the job. Other things being equal to me, it shouldn't be all that difficult.



Time Piece, 1989
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003

Your work changes lanes frequently.

It's starting from a different basis. Whatever there is for a basis, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and after that – the whole thing with Cubism is grossly misleading.


What Picasso and Braque were doing and the arguments between them were far more compelling than the later packaging, which became a programmatic way of breaking up space. I'm interested in the way you collapse an extreme close-up with a distant space and the physical time it takes to experience that. It's a cinematic methodology. How have these ideas changed since your first use of Formica, where you capitalized on the pictorial quality of the wood grain as an image laminated onto the surface which was both ultra-fake and super-real?

If you have a collage material, which is what Formica is, you can even stand up one of these collages; it will be a bit wobbly, and if that's a problem, you make a box and apply it to the box and you can really get into a dirty pool, which is to have a very intense image that's flat but does the space thing.


Chair 1955-2000, 1965-2000
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery New York ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003



The sculpture Journal II from 1991 is similar to the exclamation point in the corner; it uses laminate wood grain on one side, the other is blue and white jutting out. Two opposing Formica slabs are wedged against each other, retracting and zooming out. They reference real wood but also tamper with reality.

If you take a look at a Braque collage – that was 100 years ago, but it was all there already. I don't want to belittle what I've done, but I'm certainly standing on several people's shoulders.

But what you did was and still is tremendously contemporary and volatile.

In a social sense you're saying?

Yes.

I wouldn't say I've gone looking for that, I'd say, do I mind it? A little bit.

The volatility?

No, that it's hip.

I didn't mean that it's hip – that's always dangerous because it means the work is complacent on some level. Your work is fresh and fast.

It holds up well. It's the material too. There's no patina.


Door, 1987
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003

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