Lawrence Weiner is a 73-year-old post-minimalist conceptual artist who turns language into art. Blenheim Palace is a 300 year-old, monumental, baroque country house widely considered the most lavish private home in England. Not the most obvious match.
And yet! Weiner was invited by Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, (brother to the 12th Duke of Marlborough, distant relative to Winston, and an active lover of contemporary art), to create an installation at the palace, which is open year-round to the public.
The invitation came via the Blenheim Art Foundation, which Spencer-Churchill founded last year. Its first commission was for dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who filled one room with ceramic crabs, painted a Coca-Cola sign on a vase from the Han Dynasty, and filled the formal gardens with blue porcelain orbs.
Weiner’s approach is more austere. The artist, who lives and works in Manhattan's West Village, opted to pepper the palace’s public rooms with his pleasant, mostly inscrutable phrases. Ostensibly they’re meant to allow visitors to “experience [the] work in tandem with the rich heritage of the Palace, using the building’s historic collections as a support structure for his artistic vision,” though the reality is slightly more jarring. Check out images of the installation below.
Installing a Weiner Work on the Facade
The Finished Piece
Blending In, Sort Of.
Weiner's Art, Enlivening the Family Crest
Weiner in the Long Library
A Ceiling Installation in the Long Library