Louise Lawler

A Spot on the Wall, 1989-98

Cataloguing     Summary     Essay     Comparables     Market     Biography

Explore Sydney Contemporary

Louise Lawler

(American, b. 1947)

A Spot on the Wall, 1989-98
signed, dated 89-98 and numbered 50/55 on the reverse
cibachrome print
12.8 by 18 cm.
Edition number 50 of 55.

Walther Koenig, London

AUD $ 4,000

Payment over 10 months with Art Money available

Louise Lawler, A Spot on the Wall, 1989

Key Points

  • As a key member of the influential Pictures Generation, Louise Lawler has become a central figure in the photographic medium
  • Her work is collected by some of the most important institutions around the world, including the MoMA, the Tate and the Centre Pompidou
  • Originally photographed in 1989, A Spot on the Wall dates from the artist’s most desirable decade
  • The Joseph Beuys portrait by Andy Warhol is a recurring theme in Lawler’s practice, which often explores the intersection of art and money

In Context

As one of the key artists from the influential Pictures Generation, Louise Lawler has long engaged with notions of originality, representation, authorship and contextualisation through her impressive oeuvre. Her debut exhibition at Metro Pictures in New York in 1982, titled Arranged by Louise Lawler, took the act of appropriation to an extreme by creating an installation using the gallery inventory and re-presenting other artists’ work as part of her own artwork (offered for sale at their cumulative price plus 10%). 

Such radical appropriation was extremely relevant at a time when photography had come to cast doubt over the function of authorship and originality. As postmodern French philosophers Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault’s influential essays on the topic were being translated into English, Louise Lawler alongside contemporaries such as Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine, would not only complicate notions of authorship by depicting other artists’ work in her photographs, but also engage in institutional critique by emphasising the physical circulation of art, whether it was in museums, private collectors’ houses or in storage spaces. 

Crucially, she would often engage with the relationship between art and commerce, as in the case of A Spot on the Wall from 1989-98. Here, three artworks by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein are shown hanging at a Sotheby’s preview in 1989. The Warhol portrait of Joseph Beuys is a recurring theme for Lawler, as the Warhol-Beuys dichotomy (the American being the symbol of capitalism and the German the symbol of socialism), reflects her own interest in the relationship between the cultural and monetary values in art.

Comparable works

Louise Lawler, What Goes On here?, 1990, cibachrome print, 100 by 136 cm.
Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Louise Lawler, Does Andy Warhol Make You Cry?, 1988, cibachrome print, 70 by 100 cm.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Louise Lawler, It Could Be Elvis, 1994, cibachrome print, 74 by 91 cm.
Städel Museum, Frankfurt

The market

Although not as famous as her contemporary Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler has a strong primary and secondary market across the United States and Europe. Whilst her auction record stands at over USD 500,000 her work has privately sold for over USD 1 million. For an early work, A Spot on the Wall is attractively priced.

Louise Lawler, Hedge Fund (Here’s Looking), 2008, c-print on museum box, 117.5 by 150 cm. Ed. 5.
Sold for: USD 18,750 (AUD 25,000)
(September 2019)
Louise Lawler, Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, and White and Light, 1984-2007, c-print, 12 by 10 cm. Ed. 100. Gallery price: USD 2,500 (AUD 3,400)
(Marc Jancou, New York)
Louise Lawler, It Could Be Elvis (Black and White), 1994-96, c-print, 35.6 by 45.7 cm. Ed. 5.
Gallery price: USD 20,000 (AUD 27,250)
(Marc Jancou, New York)


Selected solo exhibitions
2020 Metro Pictures, New York
2019 Art Institute of Chicago
2017 Museum of Modern Art, New York
2013 Museum Ludwig, Cologne
2012 Galerie Neue Meister, Albertinium
2005 Dia:Beacon, New York
2005 Kunstverein Hamburg
2004 Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Basel
1997 Hirschhorn Museum, Washington
1995 Kunstverein Munich
1994 Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva
1993 Sprengel Museum, Hanover
1988 Le Consortium,
1988 Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
1987 Museum of Modern Art, New York
1982 Metro Pictures, New York

Selected collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Detroit Institute of Art
Glenstone Foundation, Potomac
Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
Jumex Collection, Mexico City
Kunstmuseum Basel
Le Consortium,Dijon
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Seattle Art Museum
Tate Gallery, London
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

ILEANA at Explore Sydney Contemporary

Walead Beshty, Louise Bourgeois, Dorian Büchi, Michael Craig-Martin, Melissa Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Rachel Howard, Louise Lawler, Tony Lewis, Sol LeWitt, Tim Maguire, Takesada Matsutani, Edda Renouf, Bridget Riley, Peter Schuyff, Stansfield/Hooykaas, Wang Guangyi, Christopher Wool

Presented at Explore Sydney Contemporary (11-21 November 2021)

All artworks © the artist.