Lawrence Argent- Lecture Review 2


Lawrence Argent was born in England and was trained in sculpture at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.  He has a MFA in Sculpture, is the recipient of many fellowships with art, and is a professor of art at the University of Denver.  He does a lot of traveling nationally and internationally.  In fact he currently has a studio in China.  He has had numerous exhibitions throughout the country as well as out of the country.

We spoke about Lawrence Argent in class recently this semester and I thought he was an interesting artist, but seeing him speak about his artwork at the Denver Art Museum was such an enlightening experience.  He spoke about his work in such a passionate and intriguing way.  His artwork isn’t just about creating something aesthetically pleasing, as much as it is about creating an experience for the viewer.  He loves to set up contrasts or contradictions and ignite different interpretations in different spectators.  He wants his artwork to be seen as a narrative that each person can create personally.  When first hearing about Argent’s work, it was just another contemporary artist, but after seeing him his work completely captivated and inspired me to find deeper and hidden meanings in all artworks including my own.

All of his works are very elaborate in the creating process.  During the lecture he spoke about the process of seeing out a large-scale work.  I never realized how expensive and time consuming it really can be.  As an aspiring artist, he made me realize that I can come up with as many spectacular artwork ideas as I could possibly think up, but the seeing it out being created is not easy.  Argent spoke about the love and the passion of the workers who build these large forms with him and how they are not just doing it to get paid.  A main interest of Argent is seeing how people gain confidence to try, think, and do new things.  These technicians and architects never say they cannot do a task at hand but that they will try.  Argent loves seeing the excitement they get over accomplishing something new with his artwork and being able to use that new knowledge for other opportunities in their lives.

When Lawrence Argent spoke about his famously controversial Blue Bear, “I See What You Mean” he did so with lighthearted humor.  When he was thinking about the artwork he wanted to present for the Convention Center, he wanted whatever it was to be integrated as part of the building.  The guidelines he was given was to make the viewer remember specifically the artwork and to associate it with where they were at the time.  In class we talked about numerous works in Colorado that draw attention to the natural preserve but in a contemporary way.  With his blue bear, he wanted to play with the icon of the mindset.  He stated that when he was in the process of putting it on site, someone asked him if he worked for Disney.  Rather than taking this in an insulting way, he embraced it.  He stated that there is a sense of familiarity with how someone sees something but that he strives to permit engagement.  He finds the idea of allowing someone to explore an idea and allowing them to think they know what they don’t know, is a magical concept.  Argent gives his viewers the confidence to know the meaning of his works without necessarily being right.

My favorite work that Lawrence Argent spoke about was the one he recently created at the Sacremento Airport.  This work, “Leap” is a massively large red rabbit jumping into a queen size bed suitcase.  When he was first thinking of what kind of artwork he wanted to create for this terminal, his mind was drawn towards the idea of baggage.  He thinks of baggage as the stuff that makes up who we are and what makes us feel complete.  I love the road he went down with this piece.  Regardless if he did another unnatural colored animal like the blue bear, I think it is a fascinating way to present an idea to the world.  I think it is overall relevant to what art has become in this contemporary world today.  This piece, whether critiqued in a bad, joking, or appreciated light, it instills a different experience in all who view it.  For those of us young and old, if we allow ourselves to go back to a childlike mindset, this piece creates the magic of a story that we can all relate to individually.

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