Richard Artschwager: Shut Up and Look is a documentary film about the story of artist Richard Artschwager, whose works command hundreds of thousands of dollars, although fame eluded him. This film provides an intimate look at this extraordinarily gifted man, who passed away on 9 February 2013.
Late in life Artschwager abandoned a reclusive lifestyle and allowed the camera into the private world of his studio, his personal life and his colourful past. Agnes Gund, John Torreano and Malcolm Morley reveal the personal side of a very quirky, irreverent man, whose work continues to confound the critics. Directed by Maryte Kavaliauskas and produced by Morning Slayter, US, 57 mins
Born in 1923 in Washington, D.C. Artschwager moved with his family in the 1930s to New Mexico, which he continued to visit. He attended Cornell before joining the military and fighting in World War II. He was injured in the Battle of the Bulge. Later, he did intelligence work for the United States. Artschwager had been making art sculpture, painting, drawings and other objects since the early 1950s. He had forged a unique and maverick path in twentieth century art by confounding its generic limits, all the while making the visual comprehension of space and the everyday objects that occupy it strangely unfamiliar. Artschwager’s work has been variously described as Pop Art, because of its derivation from utilitarian objects and incorporation of commercial and industrial materials; as Minimal Art, because of its geometric forms and solid presence; and as Conceptual Art, because of its cool and cerebral detachment. But none of these classifications adequately defines the aims of an artist who specializes in categorical confusion and works to reveal the levels of deception involved in pictorial illusionism. He had major shows at Paris’s Centre Pompidou in 1989, Vienna’s MAK in 2002 and the Deutsche Guggenheim in 2003, and made multiple appearances in numerous important international exhibitions, like the Venice Biennale and Documenta, in Kassel, Germany, which he was featured in an astounding five times.
Artschwager’s approach focused on the structures of perception, striving to conflate the world of images, which can be apprehended but not physically grasped, and the world of objects, which is the same space that we ourselves occupy. His most recent work marks a departure, in that the images he had composed from sources in popular culture have overt, if deadpan, allusions to current political issues.
Special Q&A – Director Maryte Kavaliauskas and producer Morning Slayter will introduce the film.This special screening coincides with Richard Artschwager’s current exhibition Portraits! at Sprüth Magers London, on view until Saturday 9 March.
Richard Artschwager: Shut Up and Look – A special screening of a film examining the life and work of the artist
Friday, 8 March, 6.45pm at ICA, London