Lawrence Weiner: Founding Conceptual Artist Unveils New Blenheim Palace Exhibition

 A major new exhibition by American artist and founding figure of Conceptual Art, Lawrence Weiner, titled WITHIN A REALM OF DISTANCE opens at Blenheim Palace on 10 October.  The exhibition showcases works conceived by the artist over the past several decades, in addition to significant works created especially for the Palace. Integrated throughout the ornate interior as well as the monumental exterior of the 18th century building, the exhibition demonstrates the artist’s practice of using language as a medium to create a multitude of sculptural forms; viewed in contrast to the traditional backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Lawrence Weiner is regarded as one of the most influential artists working today with a career spanning over fifty years. The exhibition, conceived by the artist in close collaboration with Blenheim Art Foundation and co-curator Christian Gether, Director, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, will feature a new and ambitious body of work presented in a building that dates back to 1704 and which famously became the birth place of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. Existing as an idea rather than a physical object, Weiner invites visitors to experience his work in tandem with the rich heritage of the Palace.

Using the Palace as a support structure for his artistic vision, Weiner has created several site-specific installations, allowing visitors to experience his work and the building’s historic collections simultaneously. The work, which gives the exhibition its name: WITHIN A REALM OF DISTANCE, is made up of brightly coloured and three-dimensional urethane and vinyl lettering, strikingly situated on the frieze of the Palace’s main entrance. The ceiling of the Long Library, which runs the entire length of the Palace’s West Front making it one of the longest rooms in a private house in Britain, now features the work MORE THAN ENOUGH after being almost untouched for the last 200 years. Site-specific pieces have also been made for the west side of the Great Hall where the words NEAR & FAR & EQUAL MEASURE AT SOME POINT, are located above the arch, and the te xt SO FA R FLUNG adorns the Green Drawing Room.

Additional works include FAR ENOUGH AWAY AS TO COME READILY TO HAND, an almost four metre pvc banner with vinyl overlay, has replaced the tapestry depicting the Battle of Blenheim hanging in the First State Room. In the Chapel, is A PENNY HERE, A PENNY THERE, above the marble monument to the first Duke and Duchess and their two sons. FOUND ALONE AFTER ANY GIVEN TIME, consisting of seven embroideries displaying differing texts, are also hung in place of existing drawings and prints throughout the Palace and presented as a homily. The works are both subtly and strikingly juxtaposed against the art and architecture of the Palace, creating something completely unique.

WITHIN A REALM OF DISTANCE is the second exhibition by Blenheim Art Foundation, a programme of contemporary art which sees exhibitions presented at the Palace by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists, and follows the inaugural exhibition Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace (2014). The Foundation was established by Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, whose family have resided at Blenheim Palace since the early 18th century, and whose brother is the 12th Duke of Marlborough. A dedicated collector of contemporary art, Lord Edward has long held the ambition to launch a contemporary art programme at Blenheim Palace, and realised Blenheim Art Foundation in 2014 with its Director, Michael Frahm.

Review to follow

Photo: Hugo Glendinning, 2015