Richard Artschwager

(1923 - 2013)

LAMA set the world auction record for a design by Richard Artschwager on May 19, 2013 with Desk (1957) realizing $31,250.

About The Artist

Richard Artschwager first came to art world attention in the early 1960s, when, after sending an unsolicited submission, he was invited to participate in a group show at Leo Castelli gallery alongside art world luminaries including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Before making his career as an artist, Artschwager had been a soldier, a counterintelligence officer, a banker, and a furniture maker, and his work seems to poke fun at the hallowed art world as only an insider with an outsider’s perspective could.

Though he was also a painter, Artschwager’s name is now synonymous with stoic yet humorous sculptures that straddle the categories of Pop art and Minimalism. His floor sculptures reference Donald Judd in their unfettered form, and yet they are fabricated in approachable and mundane home-building materials such as brightly-toned Formica, Melamine, and plywood. The tension between the oppositional references of high minimalism and the domestic space was novel and droll when these sculptures first debuted in the 1960s. Another important innovation in the latter part of the decade was his lozenge-shaped, wall-mounted sculptures, which Artschwager termed “blps.” Artschwager mused in 2012, “Art can take you to funny places,” and these blps function as artistic wormholes, transporting the viewer to unexpected philosophical or theoretical heights. The blps also operate as simple interruptions in the typical museum or gallery space, causing the viewer to step back and take notice.

In 1988, Artschwager received his first retrospective at the Whitney Museum. His career was revisited by the institution with another retrospective in 2012 with a presentation that included over 150 works and also traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. In conjunction with the presentation at the Whitney in 2012, a series of blps were installed throughout the High Line in New York City. Artschwager’s works reside in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Johnson, Ken. “Richard Artschwager, Painter and Sculptor, Dies at 89.” The New York Times, 10 Feb 2013. Web. 8 Nov 2014.
Picard, Charmaine. “The Story Behind Richard Artschwager's Whitney Survey and High Line blps.” Blouin ArtINFO, 25 Oct 2012. Web. 8 Nov 2014.