Survey by Qualaroo

Louise Lawler

From the late 1970s onwards, Louise Lawler’s (born 1947, US) work has focused on the social life of artworks, the performance of works with their context.

Mostly working with photography, she records and investigates art and the context in which it is viewed – in a private collector’s home, with art handlers, at auctions, or in specific viewing conditions. Her project is a witty pictorial interrogation of the institutional framing devices which effect and transform the artwork and its meaning. As Robert Storr has noted about Lawler, “she combines a patient determination with an irrepressible delectation of art for art’s sake - portraying a comedy of contemporary manners.” Keeping to Yourself shows the painting Jumbo, 1986, by American artist Ed Ruscha, photographed at Christie’s in November 2007. The work is placed under spotlights, which interfere with the contrasts in the painting as if on a badly lit stage. A second work, It is Something Like..., belongs to another series of projects by the artist for which she distributes simple objects, often resembling promotional material, in this case two versions of a postcard. The postcards are free to take – Lawler is interested in the distribution of the works outside of the context of the gallery.