Richard Artschwager’s (1923-2013) sculptural practice, characterised by the use of Formica and timber veneer to create sharp-edged box structures, exude character. The materiality and subtle narrative of human gesture that comes with Formica (commonly used in kitchens) lends itself to the Artschwager’s cool and oblique commentary on the links between perception, the tactile and the personal. Colour fields and pattern dominate to produce dreamy, stylised sculptures that neither reject nor elevate their synthetic nature. A balance between what is and what could be, Artschwager punctuates space with anonymous spectacle.
Sitting somewhere between industrial design and sculpture, Chair (Formica, 1966), a swirling Walnut-veneer rectangular form exemplifies what I like most about Artschwager’s spatial philosophy; clean, rectangular shapes defined by organic pattern, harmonising two materials that define different aspects of form.
In 2012 The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles produced a great 1-hour film about Richard Artschwager and his work titled ‘Richard Artschwager: Shut Up and Look’ (Directed by Maryte Kavaliauskas; produced by Maryte Kavaliauskas and Morning Slayter) that gives great insight into Artschwager’s practice. Click here to find out more about this documentary.