Richard Artschwager
Large Concepts in Small Formats
January 18 - April 18, 2008
Opening Reception January 18, 2008
Meet the Artist   5:00 -7:00 p.m.
949.480.4081 or

Founders Hall Art Gallery
Soka University
1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Directions: From Interstate 5 take Oso/Pacific Park Drive west to Wood Canyon. Turn left, then right on University.  Founders Hall is the domed building overlooking Peace Lake.
Contact: Wendy Harder

Web site,
Gallery hours, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm

Artschwager (1978)

About the Artist
Richard Artschwager began his career making furniture.  He has been the “jack-of-all-trades” of art – sculpture, painting, drawings and other objects – since the early 1950s and exhibited internationally since the 1960s.

Forefather of tag-art graffiti, he is the renowned father of “blps,” (pronounced “blips”).  In the mid-60s, lozenge-shaped blps became his “tag” or signature when Artschwager placed them on the sides of buildings, at construction sites and on empty outdoor walls throughout Manhattan. Considered discreet, these forms were conspicuously individual, covered with camel hair and rubberized to appear fuzzy.

For a period of about ten years to the mid-70s, he was part of the inner circle of pop art that included Warhol, Lichtenstein, Johns, and Rauschenberg.  His sculptures were whimsical objects of plywood and Formica.  His paintings were monochromatic (grisaille) with a hint of color often seen through segments of Formica to produce a three-dimensional effect.

In 2003, politics, mirrored frames and acrylic on Celotex, (a canvas-weave vinyl) surfaced as his new materials of choice.  Images of George W. Bush and the Taliban in Afghanistan reflected this phase.  The next year, vibrant saturated color drove perspective and the use of crafted frames and spatial boundaries became his signature.

Now at eighty-four years of age, Richard Artschwager is an internationally exhibited American Master of contemporary art living in Hudson, New York. Challenging diverse material, space, form, perspective and color has been his peculiarity.  His work has been shown in venues such as: the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Tate Gallery, London. He won the renowned and prestigious Wolfgang Hahn Prize from Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany with its associated purse of $100,000.

Artschwager’s current exhibit at Soka University’s Founders Hall Art Gallery features a wide variety of small format drawings and chromogenic prints selected from both his personal, gallery and private collections -- shown together for the first time.  This display of Artschwager’s works highlights his intellectual and aesthetic sensitivity in interpolating and juxtaposing images of common objects, diacritical marks and ready-made materials into a unique iconography.  The focus of the works is sharpened by the viewer as the unexpected plays with the certain, and the visual flirts with the concrete.

Artist Statement

Artschwager once described the blp as "a mindless invasion of the social space by a logo-like, totally useless art element. It is small, has high visibility, relentlessly refuses to give up its uselessness." [Artist's statement, Art & Design, vol. 8, May/June 1993, p. 80]
"Portraits are for me a vehicle for ravening ambition.
Photos give you a stupid, unassailable truth,
Drawings give you touch,
Painting gives you physical/mental invasion.
I want it all."  (as quoted by Gagosian Gallery, 2003)
“The most striking property of doors (although not unique to doors) is RESONANCE between two states, which can be conveniently labeled as ‘open’ and ‘closed.’ Resonance is never a simple, unqualified fluctuation between two states: even so in this case.  A door - at any given moment – is in a state of being closed with the possibility of its being opened, or in a state of being open with the possibility of its being closed.  This is not a speculative model for a door, but a description of the state of affairs which immediately existed when the first door was brought into being.”   (as quoted in Arts Magazine 42, no. 2, 1967)

Soka University of America is a private, non-profit, four-year liberal arts college and graduate school in offering leadership for peace, study abroad for all undergraduate students, and a 9:1 student/faculty ratio.  SUA features a non-sectarian curriculum and is open to top students of all nationalities.  About half of Soka’s students come from the United States and half from 30 other countries.  Soka University is proudly founded upon the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life and is located on 103-acres in Aliso Viejo, CA.

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