Louise Lawler - Unbound: Online Only New York Thursday, October 18, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Description

    “The effort of my work is to show the habits and conventions of looking at art by taking on aspects of the system to make it visible.” - Louise Lawler, 1986

    A prominent member of the Pictures Generation, Louise Lawler addresses the creation, perception and function of art in both private and institutionalized environments through photography and image appropriation. In the present lot, Lawler utilizes text and photographic imagery to challenge the relationship between context and meaning. On the left-hand side of the composition Lawler has placed a black and white photograph which depicts the interior of an art collector’s home. This 1980’s living room is a characteristic scene which Lawler incorporated into her early works. When carefully examining this art collector’s private room, one can make out paintings by Cy Twombly, Richard Diebenkorn and Franz Kline. This photograph is accompanied by red embossed text, a wall label, which is also the title of this work, which reads “Once there was a little boy and everything turned out alright. THE END.” This snippet of the text was seen by Lawler’s mother on the wall of a roadside café and absorbed into Lawler’s art practice. By simply adding text to an image and framing them together, she is able to transform two disparate forms of expression and communication. Many questions are triggered by the text, the two-sentence story seems to lack a middle narrative, only addressing the beginning and the end of this boy’s story, what happened in between? Does the photograph on the left represent the middle? Lawler is the master of storytelling, with just a brief text and a seemingly mundane interior she leaves the viewer perplexed, a museum wall label is meant to explain an image and instead has been turned upside down, it does not give answers to our questions but in its brevity presents an artwork riddled with enigma.

  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Artists Space, The Fairy Tale: Politics, Desire, and Everyday Life, October 30 - November 26, 1986 (another example exhibited)
    Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, Now Here is also Nowhere: Part I, October 27, 2012 - January 06, 2013 (another example exhibited)


Once there was a little boy and everything turned out alright. The end.

signed, numbered and dated "Louise Lawler 1/5 1986" on the reverse; further stamped by the artist's studio on the reverse
gelatin silver print with printed text on matboard, in Plexiglas
4 x 13 in. (10.2 x 33 cm.)
Executed in 1986, this work is number 1 from an edition of 5 plus 1 artist's proof.

$3,000 - 4,000 

Sold for $6,875

Contact Specialist
Katherine Lukacher
Associate Specialist, Head of Online Sales
+1 212 940 1215
[email protected]

Unbound: Online Only

Bidding Closes 30 October 2018