Conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner dies at 79
Weiner’s installation piece, “To the extent of how deep the valley is at some given time,” was donated to Vail’s public art collection in 2018
Lawrence Weiner, a leading figure in the conceptual art movement and contributor to the town of Vail’s public art collection, passed away Thursday at age 79.
Weiner is best known for his text-based art installations, which use words and phrases printed in sans serif fonts to harness the power of language and create unique artistic experiences. His installations can be found on buildings and structures all over the world, and thanks to a generous 2018 donation from the collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, Weiner’s legacy will live on in Vail in the form of his 2001 work, “To the extent of how deep the valley is at some given time,” which is installed on the western exterior of the Vail Valley parking structure.
The Logans are longtime residents of the valley, and they contributed this original piece from their own private art collection. The work was created by Weiner in 2001, and was purchased and installed by the Logans in their Vail home until 2018.
“We selected this Lawrence Weiner piece as it speaks to man’s relationship to our time on earth or, if you will, here in the Vail Valley,” the Logans said in a joint statement. “We appreciate the evocative thought that the earth and its treasures — and more specifically, the Vail Valley — existed well before we all arrived and cherished the place, and will continue to exist well after our time here in the valley.”
When the piece was transferred to the town, Molly Eppard, the Art in Public Places coordinator, said that they were able to collaborate with Weiner to modify the piece for its new home.
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“When it was transferred to us, we were able to work directly with the artist to determine scale, color, materials and layout,” Eppard said. “We were incredibly fortunate to have that opportunity, so then it was customized for Vail’s site.”
The sharp blue coloring of the letters was carefully selected by Weiner to be evocative of the sapphire blue skies that surround residents and visitors for miles in the valley, and the location of the installation connects the messaging of the text to the mountain landscape that rises all around it.
Weiner himself was greatly pleased with the installation of this piece in Vail, and expressed his gratitude upon the completion of his work in summer 2018.
“The privilege of being able to integrate my work into such an astounding landscape leaves me speechless,” Weiner expressed to Eppard about his work now being in the town of Vail’s public art collection. “The only thing I can say is how lucky the work is to be in such a surrounding.”
Weiner’s passing makes this permanent installation of his work in the valley that much more of a precious gift to the community.
“It was an incredible opportunity to include his work in the town of Vail’s public art collection for all to enjoy for many generations to come,” Eppard said.
Born in 1942 in New York, Weiner was awarded numerous prestigious accolades over the course of his pioneering career, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ludwig Museum’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize and the Roswitha Haftmann Foundation Prize. He made an indelible mark on the art world during his 50-year career, and has left the Vail Valley with a piece of that legacy.
“The power of nature, the power of mankind or the frailty of both,” the Logans said. “This open-ended question/thought combines our love of art, its ability to ask us to look at our lives and our love of the Vail Valley, all in one piece.”