March 8, 2013 - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) - Lawrence Weiner Drawings
March 8, 2013

Lawrence Weiner Drawings

Courtesy of Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

Lawrence Weiner
Written on the Wind: Lawrence Weiner Drawings

8 March–24 June 2013

Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Àngels, 1
08001 Barcelona
@MACBA_Barcelona / #weiner 

Exhibition organised by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and co-produced with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Curated by Bartomeu Marí and Soledad Gutiérrez

With clear references to navigation, Written on the Wind presents one of the most significant artists of the past fifty years through the humble but essential medium of drawing. The exhibition offers an insight into the work of Lawrence Weiner (New York, 1942) through his drawings, which are probably the least known aspect of his oeuvre. Written on the Wind is an exhaustive survey of the works on paper by this artist who has shown that art does not require a physical medium. Weiner employs the democratic, universal element of language to create works that range from intangible objects—his famous word sculptures—to sound pieces and film. 

In 1959, Weiner publicly presented his works for the first time. A year later, he used dynamite to create sculptures by means of “subtraction” in a national park in California. In 1964, audiences who attended his show in New York discovered that they had to decide the final form that the works would take. In 1968, Weiner created a work at Windham College in Putney, Vermont, that involved positioning a series of stakes in the ground at regular intervals and stringing twine between them to form a grid. When the students cut the twine because it hampered their access to the campus, Weiner realised that he could have created the same effect without the need to physically materialise the piece. That same year, he formulated the famous declaration of intent that has guided his work since then, and that is a milestone in the history of contemporary art.

1. The artist may construct the piece.
2. The piece may be fabricated.
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.

Since then, Weiner has used language as a material to create works that demand the active participation of the observer. Once it has been freed from its appearance and its physical state, an artwork exists in as far as it is formulated through language and inhabited by the spectator. Based on these premises, Weiner has made language the central element of his work, meticulously selecting precise formulations that he interprets in their most objective sense. Weiner sculpts with words. 

When Drawing is Saying
The curatorial purpose of Written on the Wind is to establish an open dialogue with Lawrence Weiner’s “works with paper.” The exhibition, articulated around gestures of meaning, is open to the subjective perception of each participant. In his notebook publication for Documenta 13 Weiner writes, EACH GESTURE IS A BID FOR COMPLICITY, suggesting that gestures evoked on surfaces aim to shape the way we see and turn the sensory into the physical. 

Drawings, like his music, films and videos, provide Weiner with a structure that expresses other needs and another kind of interaction. We can see that for Weiner, drawing functions almost as an autobiographical document to recount the discovery of an event, whether remembered or imagined, and to adapt multiple forms ranging from simple notes to animated film drawing. This exhibition attempts to represent the different states of drawing per se that comprise Weiner’s body of work.

The visual narrative Lawrence Weiner has created for both the catalogue and exhibition forms a mise en scène that carries with it a process of editing and refining, reflected in different types of material. On one hand we have drawings made in series. They tell us a story and speak of the artist’s obsessions: how we face the world, financial crises, natural disasters, Polaris, the search for horizons. As we match the different types of drawing in the exhibition with different levels of language used and ponder their positioning in the rooms—central walls, gestures, perimeters, serial groupings—it is apparent that there are no hierarchies or categorisations in the work; together the drawings form a coherent mass.

Text published under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daily guided tours 
(included in the admission fee)
Weekdays, at 6:30pm
Saturdays, at 12:30pm and 6:30pm 
Sundays and Public Holidays, at 12:30pm
Available in English on Mondays (6:30pm) 

Written on the Wind. Lawrence Weiner Drawings. Barcelona: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2013. Essays by Gregor Stemmrich and Kathryn Chiong; postface by Bartomeu Marí and Soledad Gutiérrez. Unique edition in English with Catalan and Spanish translations of the texts.

Opening times
Weekdays, 11am–7:30pm
Saturdays, 10am–9pm 
Sundays and Public Holidays, 10am–3pm
Closed Tuesdays (except Public Holidays)

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Share - Lawrence Weiner Drawings
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York