Critics’ Picks

View of “WRITTEN ON THE WIND,” 2013.

View of “WRITTEN ON THE WIND,” 2013.


Lawrence Weiner

Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Plaça dels Angels, 1
March 8–June 30, 2013

For the first time, an exhibition on Lawrence Weiner’s work focuses on the artist’s drawings. “WRITTEN ON THE WIND” is an extensive survey of an essential part of Weiner’s oeuvre, and comprises nearly 300 drawings produced over a fifty-year period. Since 2009, Weiner’s seminal wall text, SOME OBJECTS OF DESIRE, 2004, has occupied the uninterrupted vertical wall of MACBA’s tall atrium; this work can now be viewed alongside the artist’s drawings, affording a new perspective into the thought process behind its creation.

Within the exhibition, the artist’s drawings are grouped in thematic series rather than chronologically. In one section, a large schematic sailboat realized in simple black lines is placed adjacent to the drawings COMPILATION (BLUE), 2010, and COMPILATION (PINK), 2010, illustrating from a distance a shared literal and psychological navigation. Upon close examination, these sheets of Filofax paper are drawn and collaged with variably sized lighthouses, resembling a scattering of children’s decals and postage stamps, which are paired with text. Weiner’s characteristic typography reads ALL ALONE, OF THE MIDDLE OF PLACE, CENTER, with each letter in a different color variation. It seems that these preliminary free-form drawings, which are normally executed before and with a nimble hand, inspire the sentiments of Weiner’s measured stanzas.

In another room, STANDARD TIME, 2008, consists of four parts—EASTERN, NORTHERN, SOUTHERN, and WESTERN—that are made of outlined stenciled letters filled in with graphite or red, yellow, and blue pencil. The phrase “Forever and a day” is thrice modified to FOREVER + A DAY, FOREVER PLUS A DAY, and FOREVER & A DAY, accompanied by diagonal lines in what recalls the early Soviet poster designs of Alexander Rodchenko. A work such as SOME OBJECTS OF DESIRE is now more adequately seen as a result of both playful and thorough investigations. The written word becomes one, among many, possible vehicles of gesture.