Richard Artschwager (1923-2013) was an American painter, illustrator, and sculptor whose stylistic independence placed him as one of the true mavericks of American Minimalism and Conceptual Art. The child of European immigrants, Artschwager grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and was a student at Cornell University before he enlisted to fight in World War II. After the war, he returned to college and received a BA in physics. He then moved to New York City with his wife, where he worked as a baby photographer, a bank clerk, and a furniture maker, before pursuing his true passion of art.
For four decades, Artschwagers work confounded critics and audiences alike with its refusal to be categorized according to current social trends. Somewhere between Pop Art and Minimalism, his most famous work Table with Pink Tablecloth (formally part of the Lannan collection) spawned a series of highly geometrical and distorted tables, chairs, and doors. In the 1960s, he invented a shape called a blp, a small, black, oblong, shape that he reproduced in various media, including stencils and decals, and scattered in random museum and gallery spaces across the United States. His work was often paradoxical, and he once said, Sculpture is for the touch, painting is for the eye. I wanted to make a sculpture for the eye and a painting for the touch.
Artschwager died in February of 2013, less than a week after the closing of his second career retrospective at the Whitney Museum, Artschwager!
Table with Pink Tablecloth, 1964
Size: 25 1/2 x 44 x 44 inches
Medium: Formica on wood
The American Way, 1965
Size: 34 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches
Medium: Acrylic on cellotex in artist’s frame