Michael Asher (1943–2012)
October 16, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

"Michael devoted his work to exploring the limits of the galleries and schools and museums that give context and space for art, poking at all sorts of barriers and shibboleths with a humor that was sometimes sly, and sometimes hilarious. He removed walls and doors and windows from galleries and museum spaces, letting in daylight and air, letting out preconceptions." Pioneering conceptual artist Michael Asher dies at 69

Asher was a longtime faculty member at California Institute of the Arts. A former student, recalling one the artist's legendary critiques: "I pinned up approximately 4 or 5 wall pieces I was working on […] I was ready to discuss, in detail, my thought process behind each piece and the project as a whole. Michael walked in, I shook his hand, and I began pontificating on the meaning of my work. He stared at me, and after a moment of silence, I asked him what he thought. 'Today, we are only going to talk about the grommets[.]'"

Roberta Smith at the New York Times reviews Asher's 2008 exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, for which he reinstalled the wooden and metal studs of every temporary wall built during the museum's ten years at the location. James Rondeau at Frieze discusses the exhibition and Asher's 40-year practice in greater depth.
posted by wreckingball (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A fantastic artist who was asking some of the big questions.

RIP, with the doors wide open.
posted by xingcat at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

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posted by scody at 10:49 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by From Bklyn at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2012

RIP. Michael's post-studio class at Calarts was legendary, and the only one where art-school bullshit was left at the door. If not, it ended up all over the floor by the time his marathon crit sessions were over. I routinely saw people cry after their veils of self-deception were lifted away, while MA sat there impassively and calmly stepped the discussion through the hole that was opened up. At least when I was there, the Calarts faculty was like the daycare in Toy Story 3: full of broken toys who flamed out or never lived up to their potential, and were angry and bitter that they had to endure a day job because they couldn't make it work out in the big, bad art world. Michael was different. He didn't need the money, he rarely showed his work, and he really seemed to enjoy making students see the world beyond the white box in their heads. He was an odd duck, to be sure, but he owned it -- something we all do, eventually, if we want to live a happy life.
posted by turducken at 1:00 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

posted by oulipian at 1:13 PM on October 16, 2012

I need, somewhat desperately, to know what was said about the grommets.
posted by aramaic at 2:12 PM on October 16, 2012


weirdly, I was introduced to Mike Asher's work only a couple of days ago, through a personal mail. So sad I will never be able to meet him

Now, however, we need to recognize how he was an unusual and important artist. I'm very sad I didn't get to know him in person, and for me, his works are very strong statements I will relate to for the times
posted by mumimor at 2:19 PM on October 16, 2012

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