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Organ of Cause and Effect III


Richard Artschwager, Organ of Cause and Effect III, 1986. Melamine laminate and latex paint on plywood, 129 × 61 3/4 × 18 in. (327.7 × 156.9 × 45.7 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee  87.6a-f
© 2011 Richard Artschwager / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Richard Artschwager was a skilled piano player, and he often described his work process in musical terms—as riffs and variations of ideas and observations. Some of his sculptures are based on organs and pianos. Unlike most real organs, which stand on their own in space, this organ hangs on the wall. Its foot pedals, five giant keys, and five flattened pipes represent only part of the whole musical instrument. It would be impossible to play—for instance, the foot pedals project forward, but they are too close to the keyboard and the keys and pipes don’t actually work. A main feature of this instrument is its silence.

“Things that are unthinkable, check ’em out.”

—Richard Artschwager


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