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Richard Artschwager

1923–2013

2 WORKS ONLINE OF 26 WORKS IN THE MUSEUM COLLECTION
Richard Artschwager, Description of Table, 1964. Melamine laminate on plywood, 26 1/8 × 31 7/8 × 31 7/8 in. (66.4 × 81 × 81 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation Inc.  66.48
© 2009 Richard Artschwager / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
For nearly sixty years, Richard Artschwager made sculpture, paintings, and drawings that challenge how we see and understand the world around us. In his early years as an artist, he said that he wanted to produce “useless objects”—art that would make us look at and think about familiar objects in new ways. Many of his sculptures, such as Description of Table (1964), are inspired by household furniture. Artschwager covered this sculpture with Formica, an inexpensive, thin, flat plastic that is often used for countertops and which is frequently treated to look like wood, stone, or other more costly materials. For this work, he chose Formica with a fake wood pattern to represent the table because it creates the illusion of the texture that you would expect to find on a real wooden table. In this way, Artschwager blurred the differences between painting and sculpture and between reality and depiction.

“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.”

—Richard Artschwager

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Artschwager’s WORKS