Richard Artschwager

American (Washington, D.C., 1923 - 2013, Albany, New York)

Triptych III

painting | Formica on plywood and wood
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  • Triptych III

    Richard Artschwager, Triptych III, 1967; Formica on plywood and wood, dimensions variable; Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis and anonymous donors; © Estate of Richard Artschwager / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

As its title implies, Triptych III is a three-panel object intended to hang on the wall. Artschwager consciously references medieval and Renaissance altarpieces, yet in place of Catholic iconography we find the artist's trademark marbled, caramel-colored Formica, a material conventionally used for kitchen countertops and cheap office tables.

Pop artists Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg also satirically elevated the stuff of daily life in their work, but Artschwager's combination of a mass-produced material with simple, geometric forms is more akin to that of Minimalists such as Donald Judd. The Formica's allover pattern recalls the gestural canvases of American action painters such as Jackson Pollock.

Dimensions variable
Acquired 2003
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis and anonymous donors
© Estate of Richard Artschwager / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


burl, Minimalism, brown, black, smooth, triptychs, folds

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