Louise Lawler has spent over thirty years creating portraits of artworks. Like any human subject, every work of art posses a unique identity and personality that can be captured in a photograph. They live their lives like any other subject, in physical space and continuous time. The lucky ones have a home and people who love and care for them, and still there are others who are not as lucky. They are influenced by circumstances outside of themselves. They have a history that long predates them and a future that will continue on with or without them. They are affected by their surroundings and take on wholly different identities at different stages of existence.
Lawler’s photographs capture artworks as they exist in a particular space and in their present moment. Each image is a document of an ever-changing life and highlights the individual experiences that remind the viewer that paintings, sculptures, and other art objects are continually works in progress. In each photograph Lawler perfectly encapsulates the quiet peacefulness of a private, candid moment. Each of her hand-crafted subjects is depicted in the one moment when it exists not merely as an object of admiration, but instead as a dignified, autonomous individual in the world.
Lawler literally takes the viewer into the world of art. Gallery walls, cluttered living rooms, and storage shelves are featured just as prominently in her photographs as the artworks themselves. Art does not live in a vacuum. Rather, Lawler’s work presents a view of art that is ignored far too often: art as a fully-functioning member of the larger society. In her photographs art objects are shown in homes, in museums, and in the hands of those who handle them. Not only do artworks live they are a part of life. It is through Lawler’s lens that art loses its timelessness. It is easy to forget that, like us, art is subject to change. Yet in Lawler’s photographs time stands still and all we are left with is a remnant of the here and now – art for a moment.
Published in Musée Magazine No. 9, “Temptation”