Legendary french painter CLAUDE RUTAULT was in New York City to present his first-ever solo exhibition in the United States at the Galerie Perrotin in New york. While in town, he met up with an old friend, the American conceptual artist LAWRENCE WEINER for this interview.
interview by ALEXIS DAHAN
portrait by JEREMY LIEBMAN
All Claude Rutault photos by Yachin Parham and courtesy of Galerie Perrotin
Fifty years ago European and American artists came up with the idea that simply thinking about art could lead to new ways of making it. They took art deeper into the mind than the eyes could perceive, straight into the realm of thought. French artist Claude Rutault and American artist Lawrence Weiner began as abstract painters, then started to make art delimited by descriptive analogy. Weiner stenciled statements, such as “To See and Be Seen,” directly onto walls and spaces, using Helvetica typefaces. Each conveyed physical relations in mental images about space, time, and materials. Rutault stayed with painting, but followed his “de-finition/method,” using store-bought canvases on stretchers — circular, oval, and rectangular, and in various sizes — painted the same color as the wall, and optionally but traditionally arranged. Strict as their methods might seem, both artists are stunningly aesthetic in their use of space and material. Their approach to art is conceived for the complexities of the Information Age to which we all belong, where minds are already full of images and memories.
ALEXIS DAHAN — Claude, could you tell us when you first heard about Lawrence Weiner?
CLAUDE RUTAULT — It was toward the end of the ’60s or the early ’70s, through the curator René Denizot, at a time when conceptual art was shown at Yvon Lambert, on the Rue de l’Échaudé in Paris. It was then I became interested in his work, especially in his well-known Declaration of Intent (1968):
1. The artist may construct the piece.
2. The piece may be fabricated.
3. The piece need not be built.
Later we would run into each other, but it was because of his Declaration that I was more interested in Lawrence’s work than that of other conceptual artists.
ALEXIS DAHAN — And Lawrence, when did you first see Claude’s work?
LAWRENCE WEINER — It must have been in ’72 or ’73, in a conversation with other Parisian artists like Michel Parmentier and...
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