Why is Lawrence Weiner an Artist? Megan Keith


I must admit I’ve been having trouble in class these past weeks. Instead of being able to appreciate the works of these famous artists, I find myself sitting back and wondering “How is this art??”. Blasting a trench in the ground? Two large white blocks? An area of the floor covered by spray paint? I have a difficult time appreciating these feats, much less calling them “art”.

I understand that the appreciation of a work is incredibly subjective: some will like it, some will hate it. But how are there people who see the value in rows of white bricks on the floor? As it was mentioned in class, if a Pollock or a Rembrandt was removed from the gallery, it would still be a Pollock or a Rembrandt: an incredible piece of work. But when a pile of white bricks leaves the gallery, how is it still art? It is nothing, a pile of building blocks to be left by the side of the road. How can people call that “art” just because it appears in a museum?

I can only conclude that the above feelings reflect my decision to major in psychology. I simply do not understand art. I cannot fathom the incredible amounts of money spent by collectors or museums on works that lose all value once they leave the museum. I do not understand why Weiner’s works are so incredibly admired, I cannot see them as more than fragmented sentence graffiti. I do not, by any means, wish to offend those of you who so wholeheartedly adore these works. On the contrary, I envy your ability to find beauty in such mundane pieces.


2 Responses

  1. I feel that it is important to realize art as a visual experience. It is not at all about who can create the most intricate or valuable paintings. I think you should not try to view these pieces as works of “art”, but rather as a means to achieve some sort of emotional experience. It is important to note that these minimalists and land artists are not trying to showcase their artistic skills, they are simply trying to inspire a sort of mystical or cerebral reaction from the observer. In this aspect of their work I feel they are successful. The mathematical purity of a cube, and of its incomplete rearrangements creates a sort of peaceful, entranced feeling within my mind. Use music as an analogy. Some songs are about showcasing vocal and musical talents (pop music). Other forms of music are not focused on this aspect. Psychedelic acid jazz rock ignores the showcasing of musical ability in exchange for the expression of pure emotion, regardless of how it may be perceived as music.

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