The work of Richard Artschwager does not take to labels easily, as it incorporates and/or quotes elements of conceptualism, minimalism, pop, photorealism, and Surrealism, among others.
Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American art, described Artschwager’s punctuation marks by saying, “they appear as humorous, sensuous forms yet mute ones, detached from the dramatic feeling or sound that they would imply in a text. Decontextualizing the emotion associated with the mark contradictorily summons an existential loneliness.”
Artschwager, himself, stated, “I’m not talking about the apparatus, I’m talking about our being in a primarily social, as opposed to primarily physical, space. Social space is language-bound and language is always subject-predicate, a Procrustean abridgment of the event which, for instance, allows no excluded middle. Just think back to that time when people lived in the country. One didn’t look at red and green lights in other words, particles in order to cross the street, but rather at the full field of vision. And so it is with Matisse. When you sweep your eyes over it, you’re seeing it as it was intended to be seen. It’s so simple.”
The sculptures of punctuation marks in the current exhibition are physically silent objects, separated from the written context and yet they have the opportunity to comment on all that is around.