Artschwager’s cheap trick
NARRATOR: Richard Artschwager constructed this piece from formica– that plastic laminate that covered everyone’s kitchens in the 1960s and 70s. Formica meant you could have a countertop that looked like marble, or a table that looked like wood, but it wasn’t as expensive as the real thing.
RICHARD ARTSCHWAGER: The revelation is that with this formica, you have a vocabulary that runs from A to Z several times over. You have all the imaginable patterns. And out of this, you can make pictures.
NARRATOR: Before devoting himself to art full-time, Artschwager was a furniture-maker.
RICHARD ARTSCHWAGER: I had a– not a profession, but a trade. I thought upon, me deciding to be an artist. What am I going to live on? Because I want to make pure art and I don’t want to make commercial art and then either I need 16 Guggenheim Fellowships in succession or I have to sell drugs or I have to cook up something that will support me. And furniture was the way.
NARRATOR: This piece might remind you of a kitchen table, but it’s also got echoes of Renaissance religious paintings. They were often built like cabinets, with two side panels that could close over the central one. A triptych. Which is what Artschwager titled this piece.
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