Using language as his medium, Weiner considers himself a sculptor and his artworks, realised as ‘language + the material referred to’ are ideas that can be transformed into a multitude of forms ranging from being “painted across an entire building, floating inside a souvenir biro or sung as a lyric by a country and western band.” (Alberro and Zimmerman, 1998)
Born in 1942 and growing up in the South Bronx, New York, Weiner had limited exposure to Fine Art and instead drew inspiration from his surroundings. In an interview with Benjamin Buchloh, Weiner explains, “I grew up in a city where I read the walls; I still read the walls. I love to put work of mine out on the walls and let people read it. Some will remember it and then somebody else comes along and puts something else over it. It becomes archaeology rather than history.” (Alberro and Zimmerman, 1998)
Considered a pivotal moment in the beginning of Conceptual Art, in 1968 Weiner published his first book, STATEMENTS, which presents typed descriptions or ‘statements’ of twenty-four of his works. Subsequently in 1969 he cemented this idea in his Statement of Intent:
The artist may construct the piece. The piece may be fabricated. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.
Existing as an idea rather than a physical object, Weiner frees his artwork from the limitations of more traditional art forms. In determining sculpture through the use of language Weiner’s work seeks to transcend and move between cultures without metaphor, leaving it open to interpretation and the individual needs and desires of the ‘receiver’, promoting a universal accessibility for art.