Richard Artschwager, Whose Multifarious Work Defied Categorization, Dies at 89
Richard Artschwager, who crafted a protean and enigmatic body of work over the course of more than half a century, has died. He was 89. David Nolan Gallery and Gagosian Gallery, which both presented his work in New York, confirmed his death.
Given Mr. Artschwager’s thrillingly diverse output, it’s difficult to pin his fame to any particular series. He made haunting grayscale paintings, often of domestic scenes and architecture, on textured Celotex and sculptures with Formica—“the great ugly material,” he said of the stuff—and wood that often resembled functional objects like pianos, chairs and tables, betraying the artist’s work as a furniture maker in the 1950s. But he also made curious little pieces that he called “blps,” knockwurst-shaped works that he sometimes installed throughout the city. All the while, he handily sidestepped the reigning art movements of the day, indulging elements of Minimalism (in his sculptures) and Pop art (in his paintings) while playfully ignoring their strictures.
Just a week ago, a major retrospective of his work—titled “Richard Artschwager!”—ended its run at the Whitney Museum. As part of the show, “blps” were installed throughout West Chelsea, where the Whitney will open its new museum in 2015. The show was his second career-spanning show at the museum, and will travel to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles later this year.