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>> Exclusive: Richard Artschwager
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I'm interested in your idea of the surrogates or substitutes. The Formica sculptures were the first use of the substitute. Is there a relationship to the drawings?

I just finished a drawing where I roughed out the drawing, and it wasn't all that different from jockeying Formica around. The only thing with Formica is you can do a lot of things with it, but then it's limiting. It can be very powerful. It has an image that stays on the surface, it doesn't do any of the things one can do using other means.

The Formica engages and disengages the viewer.

I taught for a week in Madrid in Spanish. One of the exercises I gave was to take a road map and cut a round hole in the road map and then fill in the hole. Someone else gets the disc and extends that.

That reminds me of the drawings at the Deutsche Guggenheim.

Untitled, 1981, Deutsche Bank Collection
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003
Untitled, 2001, Deutsche Bank Collection
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003

This is really one of the best things I've done. The space thing there, it seems like it worked better.

Germano Celant came up with an interesting curve ball in reference to the baroque and your work.

He's Italian!

Celant wrote about how the baroque "used technology to resolve problems of construction" as well as the idea of "transforming material without intellectual mediation being at the very heart of the baroque heresy."

Get rid of gravity and you have baroque or chaos. You get these elegant lines — you've got them in Egyptian and Minoan sculpture. Baroque is supposed to lift things up, it's anti-gravity.

You don't show the labor. Do you know Karin Davie's paintings? Her oversized swirls connect to your marbleized pieces. Clay Ketter is another artist that comes to mind in terms of your history of making furniture.

Chair, 1987-90 ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003

I'm thinking of Bob Mangold's recent things, which are a lot slower than Davie's paintings.

G.W. Bush, 2002 ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2003

There's a thread there. On a more personal note, you fought in World War II — Lichtenstein was in the same unit —

I only found out later. He was an engineer. That means mud.

What artists are you interested in?

Brice Marden is the best painter. I'm interested in his painting.

Does the work of Chuck Close interest you?

Chuck and I are buddies, oh, yeah, very much so.

I was thinking about Chuck Close while we were talking about Lefrak and the Apartment, especially in terms of how you broke down and gridded out spaces. How you let that sense of life emerge from the subsections, which is obviously what Chuck Close has dedicated himself to.

Chuck took that to a place and of course I envy him that, I totally admire him. Anyone who says they have that kind of admiration without a bit of envy is just lying. We can be glad those paintings exist, they're nice to have around.

They're amazing paintings.

Oh, God, yeah. He grew up in simple circumstances and decided to be an artist, and his parents were thrilled that he was going to be an artist. My history is a little different. It broke my father's heart.

Because he wanted you to be a scientist?


But your mother understood.

No, she was troubled. She said: "What are you going to live on?"

She didn't know it would work out.

I'm sorry my father didn't live to see that I actually accomplished something. It's too bad.

Cheryl Kaplan is an artist, writer and curator. She lives in New York. Her writing has appeared in Flash Art, smock, tema celeste, BOMB and Art in America.

Copyright for all images of Richard Artschwager's work: VG Bild -Kunst Bonn, 2003

Richard Artschwager: Up and Down/Back and Forth
5/10 – 7/6/2003
Deutsche Guggenheim
Unter den Linden 13-15
10117 Berlin
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