Lawrence Argent: Lecture review 2

Danielle Austin

Lawrence Argent



Lawrence Argent was born in England and went to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where he studied sculpture. Argent received his MFA from the Rhinehart School of Sculpture, which is part of the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Argent is well known for creating many public works of art many of which are in Colorado. Much of his work explores people’s relationship with objects and the world around them.

During Lawrence Argent’s lecture, I found myself taking interest in his public works of art. One of these pubic works of art is “I See What You Mean” or, in other words, the big blue bear located outside the Denver Convention Center. Argent said that he completely changed his idea for the blue bear the night before the proposal was due. He said that this was a “happy accident” and would not have changed the outcome. I like this piece because when Argent was explaining it during his lecture, he stated that it had to interact with a building in order to be effective. He went on to mention how he wanted the bear to be a symbol that left Colorado knowing where it was. Argent also asked the question, “What is Colorado?” I took this as what he thought Colorado was. Is it still the West? Is it still an open frontier waiting to be explored? Perhaps it has already been explored or maybe we are merely guests in an environment that is still claimed by nature.

A major theme in Argent’s work is the history of a particular object or place and his longing to make the viewer address and think about this history. He places many of his works in historical places or basis an entire work off of the history of one particular object. A good example of this type of work showed during Lawrence Argent’s lecture is his piece “Waiting”.  The main structure in this piece is an empty chair but there are many other elements surrounding it. There are pictures of many different people who have sat in the chair projected onto the chair and this particular work was meant to make the viewer interested in the history of the even the most mundane objects in their daily lives.

A final piece I would like to talk about from Lawrence Argent’s lecture is his work “Leap”. This piece was designed for and made inside the Sacramento Airport in California. He explained that a main theme behind this piece was what is the element that is our baggage? If all of the things that make up a person are not there in their “baggage” then that person is, in reality, incomplete. Argent started out by building a very large suitcase, about the size of a queen-sized bed, but realized that in order to show this relationship between people and their belongings he would need another component. Because of this, Argent chose to use the symbol of a rabbit. He chose a rabbit because he felt as though people could relate to it easily. He explained that this is because the symbol of the rabbit is used in many stories and fables and is often used to convey humanistic traits, morals, and lessons.  After the two components of this piece were fabricated, they were both assembled inside the Sacramento Airport itself. Upon trying to transport the pieces, it was realized that the suitcase was entirely too heavy and was hollowed out for easier transportation. A hole was cut into the top of the suitcase for the rabbit to “jump through”. Because of this hole, the suitcase is entirely filled with coins today. The rabbit is larger-than-life and is suspended from the ceiling in the Sacramento Airport. The entire structure is made out of aluminum and it was decided that another material was needed to “liven” the piece. Argent, along with a large team of people, decided that it was necessary to include red panels over the top of the rabbit. These red panels were essentially attached with Velcro and look as though they are floating over the piece. There are black lines in between the panels but Argent explained that this is just a shadow because the panels are not directly on the surface of the rabbit.

Overall, I found Lawrence Argent’s lecture to be very insightful. He is one of the most successful public artists of our time and I found his work interesting and innovative as well as the themes behind his work unique. All of his work manages to capture the imagination and take the viewers into a story that becomes their own narrative.

2 Responses

  1. Hey,
    I also went to this lecture but did not mention the piece “Leap” in my review. I actually found what you wrote really fascinating with regard to who we are and what our “baggage” is. I think that when you talk about how Argent discusses our baggage as merely material and that we are still the person we are without it very interesting. Why do we bring so many things with us that do not completely represent who we are. I think part of this shows that Argent puts humor into his work. The baggage claim is a place where we come together but reveal our differences in a subtle way.

  2. I agree with the above comment on Argent’s baggage art piece. You really described this piece thoroughly in your review! I thought it was funny that Argent chose a bunny to convey humanistic traits. It never really occurred to me until now that they are used in this manner.

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