Louise Lawler

Salon Hodler
1992, printed 1993

Not on view

1992, printed 1993


Silver dye bleach print

Sheet (Sight): 47 1/8 × 56 11/16in. (119.7 × 144 cm) Frame: 49 1/8 × 58 5/8 × 2 1/4in. (124.8 × 148.9 × 5.7 cm)

Accession number

2/5 | 1 AP

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee

Rights and reproductions
© Louise Lawler. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York


Salon Hodler documents the salon of a Swiss collector that is filled with rare antiques and dominated by two late-nineteenth-century paintings by the Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler. Like all of Louise Lawler’s photographs, this image encourages reflection on the often unseen impact that institutional, social, and economic contexts exert on the functions of art and the ways we understand it. Here, the painted scenes are warm with lovers’ embraces, but the well-appointed salon takes on the clinical, bland air of an upscale hotel lobby. The paintings, as captured by Lawler in this setting, are revealed as dispassionate signs of wealth, class, and rarefied taste. Implicit in the artist’s work, however, is an acknowledgment that different environments would bring to light other aspects of Hodler’s canvases—their painterly eroticism on a museum wall, for instance, or their consumer value in a commercial gallery or on an auction house podium. Her photographs make the case that art is not a static, neutral language with fixed meanings; it is, on the contrary, fluid and mutable, always subject to shifting ideologies, changing times, and new collaborations.