MoMA Plans a Giant Louise Lawler Retrospective for 2017

The beloved Pictures Generation artist gets a 40-year survey.

Louise Lawler. (Andy Warhol and Other Artists) Tulip, 1982. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures.
Louise Lawler. (Andy Warhol and Other Artists) Tulip, 1982. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures.

Beloved Pictures Generation artist Louise Lawler has studied works of art in their everyday working environments for decades, showing them in museums, collectors’ homes, and auction houses. New York’s Museum of Modern Art is now planning a survey of 40 years of the New York-based artist’s output.

“Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW” is scheduled for April 30–July 30, 2017. Senior curator Roxana Marcoci is organizing the show, along with curatorial assistant Kelly Sidley.

Louise Lawler, <i>Still Life (Candle) (adjusted to fit)</i>. 2003/2016. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures.

Louise Lawler, Still Life (Candle) (adjusted to fit). 2003/2016. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures.

The MoMA show will include not only her trademark photographs, but also a popular sound work, Birdcalls (1972–81), in which Lawler chirps the names of famous male artists, including Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Gerhard Richter, among others. Birdcalls will be installed in the museum’s sculpture garden, and can also be heard at Dia:Beacon as part of their ongoing exhibition programming. The show was inspired by Lawler’s work helping to organize an all-male exhibition in 1971 that was spearheaded by independent curator Willoughby Sharp.

Louise Lawler, <i>Marie +270</i>, 2010/2012. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Louise Lawler, Marie +270, 2010/2012. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Lawler’s study of art in its commercial context will be complemented by the display of a work by a younger artist that highlights a different kind of economy. The sculpture New York State Unified Court System, by artist Cameron Rowland, included in the artist’s knockout exhibition at Artists Space this winter, takes the form of four oak benches used in courtrooms and built using prison labor.

Lawler, too, has explicitly addressed social and political subjects, for example with her Helms Amendment (1989), which incorporates the text of contemporaneous legislation prohibiting federal funding for AIDS research. It was on view in the Art Basel fair, earlier this month.

Louise Lawler, <i>Big (adjusted to fit)</i> 2002/2003/2016. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Louise Lawler, Big (adjusted to fit), 2002/2003/2016. Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

An exhibition catalogue will feature essays by scholars and art historians including Crimp and Marcoci as well as Rhea Anastas, Mieke Bal, and Rosalyn Deutsche.


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