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Description of Table

1964

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
Richard Artschwager made Description of Table from a simple plywood cube. Instead of using real wood and cloth to portray his subject, Artschwager covered the cube with flat pieces of Formica—he used white for the tablecloth, brown with a fake wood grain pattern for the table, and black for the space underneath the table. Formica is used mostly to cover countertops, cupboard doors, and other household and office furniture. This sculpture looks like a table, but imagine what would happen if you tried to sit down at it!

Artschwager said about Description of Table:

“It’s not sculptural. It’s more like a painting pushed into three dimensions. It’s a picture of wood. The tablecloth is a picture of a tablecloth. It’s a multi-picture.”

—Richard Artschwager