Opinion

Start of Something Big: Lawrence Weiner on 20×200

Lawrence Weiner, "Head Over Heels" (2010) on 20x200.com

HEAD OVER HEELS, a print edition by Lawrence Weiner, went live on Jen Bekman’s 20×200 art print site this week.

At the time of writing, the release has sold 333 of the 8 x 10 inch prints, 18 of the 20 x 16 prints, 4 of the 30 x 24 and 1 of the $5000 40 x 30 size. I bought one of the 8 x 10 prints, ’cause, you know, it was only $50. The sale statistics are interesting to cite. For such a famous artist, one who recently had a retrospective at the Whitney, Weiner’s prints haven’t sold out yet.

Is it the art piece itself that’s not quite as enticing as the Starn Brothers’ “Structure of Thought 6-a” or “alleverythingthatisyousno6_005?” I don’t know, I think it’s pretty cool.

The typeface is classic Weiner, standard for an artist whose major medium is the written word, printed in vinyl and stuck on the wall. The line, “Head Over Heels After Marx & Angels” is evocative and deft and plays on the artist’s own politics, an artist who is described as “kind of a socialist” in the 20×200 newsletter that accompanied the release. There’s a sense of humor there too, the bright red heart and the all-caps semi-ironic sincerity are right on key.

In an earlier post, I wrote that I appreciated large run prints, like this one, that embrace their medium. Weiner’s “Head Over Heels” doesn’t lose power by size or by repetition; it certainly benefits from a kind of omnipresence. I’d love to, as Bekman and Weiner suggest, look up in a bar and see this print hanging over the mirror, its rough and cynical optimism. Jen’s found an artist that perfectly matches her “art for all” idealism. So why does this print still make me a little uneasy?

Maybe because contemporary art can be dangerous; it can quietly change lives. Weiner’s 60s conceptualism packages up so neatly that it’s almost unsettling. The print is a perfect package of everything I like in art, a little pill dosed a grand total of 575 times to 575 takers. Here’s to hoping “Head Over Heels” is an invasion of contemporary art into the most ordinary of every day life.

I like that Bekman is working with very famous artists and I hope it continues. Maybe a posthumous Sol Lewitt, endlessly repeated, or Alber’s Homage to the Square series is next? Pieces like “Head Over Heels,” from canonized artists, are now easily purchasable by anyone with the Internet and a Google account. This, to me, feels revolutionary and the start of something big.

I’m interested in what everyone else thinks though. This is less a strong critical statement and more, hopefully, the start of a debate — what does it mean that a Lawrence Weiner can now be purchased for $50 online?

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