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The week in art news – Lawrence Weiner (1942–2021)

3 December 2021

The pioneering conceptual artist, Lawrence Weiner, has died at the age of 79. Born in the Bronx in 1942, Weiner received no formal training as an artist. He dropped out of high school and spent much of his teenage years hitchhiking around America. After arriving in California in the late 1960s, he came into contact with the Bay Area school of avant-garde artists. In 1968, he issued his ‘Declaration of Intent’, a manifesto comprised of three short, apparently contradictory statements: ‘(1) The artist may construct the piece. (2) The piece may be fabricated. (3) The piece may not be built’. Alongside Sol LeWitt’s ‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art’ (1967), this has come to be seen as a foundational text in the history of Conceptualism. Also in 1968, Weiner created A 36″ X 36″ REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALLBOARD FROM A WALL – an artwork comprised of a series of instructions to the exhibiting gallery, which was included in Harald Szeemann’s seminal exhibition, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. Weiner exhibited at major institutions internationally throughout his long career, including three times at both Documenta and the Venice Biennale.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it has received a gift of $125m to rebuild its wing for modern and contemporary art. The donation, which is the largest capital gift in its history – is from its longtime trustee Oscar L. Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang. The wing will be named after the couple for at least 50 years. Its planned renovation was first announced by the museum in 2014, but was put on hold as the projected costs spiralled.

The American fashion designer Virgil Abloh has died at the age of 41. Through his work with the Off-White fashion house he founded in 2012 and as artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton since 2018, Abloh is credited with transforming the industry’s ideas of what high fashion could look like, bringing sports- and streetwear designs to the catwalk. Abloh was also a frequent collaborator with artists – in particular the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami – while his work has been displayed at arts institutions including the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

The Belfast-based activist group Array Collective won this year’s Turner prize at a ceremony in Coventry Cathedral on Wednesday evening. The first artists from Northern Ireland ever to win the Turner prize, the 11-strong group were awarded the £25,000 prize money for their installation The Druithaib’s Ball, a recreation of an illicit pub, or sibin, decked out with gloss-red wooden panelling, wall-mounted TV and banners supporting issues such as reproductive rights and protesting against conversion therapy. Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, said they ‘bring a sense of release and a post-sectarian way of thinking’ to their work. The group was selected from a shortlist made up entirely of collectives.