Yesterday evening, ArtCrush 2017 kicked off on the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) with a talk featuring artist Lawrence Weiner—this year’s recipient of the Aspen Award for Art. Led by AAM’s CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman, the discussion allowed Weiner to express key points of his personal practice and overall thoughts on the past, current, and future art world.
The most “foolish” thing he could do for the occasion, he said, was to stand in front of us all and talk about what he’s done professionally. Instead, he talked about how he wasn’t always all that popular in the art field. Now 75 years old, he shared that he didn’t have any idea what he was looking at in high school when he went to a museum. At that time, Weiner had just gotten into what he considered a “very good high school” for New York City. Looking back now, he believes that art is “about empowering other people—it’s not about taking the resources from people’s hard-earned money and having day care centers. It’s about getting them into these programs.”
Weiner said that art will, if you’re lucky, “ruin” you in the best way possible, and that it is all about the relationships it creates. He looped back to children, stating that they were the best tellers of what was within a piece. He believes that artists want to give people “another way to be functioning within their society, and art does that” because you don’t have to “accept a person’s values and structure and a moral structure in order to use what they make.”
The talk, an in-depth exploration of how art affects us personally, was humorous, intimate, and telling. In attendance were artists, collectors, gallerists like Marc Dennis, Amy Phelan, and Mera and Don Rubell. In closing, Zuckerman stated an important facet of AAM’s mission statement, expressing that the museum collectively examines the complexities of art, and that was apparent to all in attendance last night.