Richard Artschwager

(b. 1924)

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(1923– )

American sculptor and painter, born in Washington, DC, the son of a German immigrant botanist. After taking a degree in chemistry and mathematics at Cornell University, he moved to New York in 1949 and studied for a year under Ozenfant, whose preference for stark, geometrical forms greatly influenced Artschwager. In the 1950s he took various jobs to support himself and in 1953 he began designing and manufacturing furniture, but he returned to painting after a fire destroyed his workshop in 1958. However, he continued to make furniture, and a commission from the Catholic Church in 1960 to produce altars for ships led him to the kind of work for which he is best known—sculptures that mimic the appearance of mundane objects such as tables in a simplified, almost comic-book manner. Typically they are block-like in form but bright in colour, combining elements of Minimal art and Pop art (Table and Chair, 1963–4, Tate). Artschwager says of such works: ‘I'm making objects for non-use…By killing off the use part, non-use aspects are allowed living space, breathing space.’ Examples were shown in his first one-man exhibition, at Leo Castelli's gallery, New York, in 1964. Artschwager has also continued to produce paintings, typically monochromatic depictions of buildings.

Subjects: Art.

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