Art About Art

Louise Lawler at Metro Pictures is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Louise Lawler got launched by shooting her art collection.

(Courtesy Louise Lawler and Metro Pictures)

This is a very early piece by Louise Lawler, titled “(Andy Warhol and Other Artists) Tulip”. She’s one of my favorite artists, and recently had a few works on view upstairs at Metro Pictures gallery in New York, in celebration of a book that just appeared about her in the October Files series. Lawler’s classic images consist of photos taken of works of art as they get “used” in collectors’ homes, museums etc. Before she hit on that mode, however, she took works from her own art collection – as here – and arrayed them as a composition on a colored studio background. That’s what she showed in her first-ever Metro Pictures exhibition, in 1982. Those early pieces make me realize that her later, classic photos aren’t only documentation of the fates of artworks as they circulate in the world; those photos themselves also function as composed still lifes – as artworks cognate to the works of art they depict.

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