LAWRENCE WEINER: BENT TO A STRAIGHT AND NARROW AT A POINT OF PASSAGE
A fascinating work of language sculpture by groundbreaking contemporary artist Lawrence Weiner is now on view in our G.W. Anderson Family Great Hall. Purchased by the Museum in 2011 with funds from the Phyllis Cannon Wattis Endowment for 20th Century Art, BENT TO A STRAIGHT AND NARROW AT A POINT OF PASSAGE (1976) is an important addition to the UMFA's permanent collection of contemporary art and represents a canonical moment in art history.
Lawrence Weiner is a central figure of Conceptual art, a movement that emphasizes the artist's idea as the work of art over its material and aesthetic existence as an object. Weiner considers himself a sculptor of language, challenging conventional notions of what constitutes art by using words exclusively as his mode of expression. Weiner's work can be realized in any number of forms. For the first iteration of this piece, UMFA staff collaborated with the artist to determine the medium:bright blue, nearly five-foot-tall vinyl letters, installed on three walls of the Great Hall over two days of painstaking work in April. (The installation process was documented in a fascinating time-lapse video featured below.) The artwork playfully interacts with the architecture of the space, which is both the heart of the Museum and a passage to other galleries.
Weiner has had solo exhibitions at important museums in the U.S. and internationally, and his artwork was the subject of a major 2008 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. This is the American debut of BENT TO A STRAIGHT AND NARROW AT A POINT OF PASSAGE, and the UMFA is thrilled to give members and visitors an opportunity to encounter this significant artwork in person.
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