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John M Armleder

Zakk Wylde IV (FS), 2011
flocked acrylic on canvas and Gibson Zakk Wylde guitar
121.0 x 317.0 cm
In a postmodern vein, John M Armleder no longer sought novelty, but chose to update his predecessors’ artistic forms, while freeing them from traditional academic constraints. His desire to distance himself from the norm often translated into an audacious play with citations, and a desire to trivialise works of art through decoration.

It was in this spirit that he produced the first pieces in his 1979 series Furniture Sculpture. Many of these works consist of pieces of furniture arranged against the backdrop of a geometric painting inspired by constructivism. Making use of the readymade, Armleder playfully rejects any hierarchy between artistic practice and everyday reality, placing his own productions alongside ordinary objects. Thus he ironically responds to the bourgeois desire for art that matches living room furniture, promoting a new ontological relationship between art and life. Thanks to their formal uniqueness and the way they irreverently challenged artistic categories, the Furniture Sculpture[s] made the Swiss artist’s name internationally in the 1980s.

With Zakk Wylde IV (FS) (2011), Armleder continued his reflection on the status of a work of art, presenting an iconic object of the music industry—American guitarist Zakk Wylde’s Gibson Flying V guitar—interposed between two of his abstract paintings. The formal dialogue that emerges within the installation, through the geometric patterns and the carefully articulated chromatic effects, reveals John M Armleder’s intention to burn down the boundaries between what is made by the artist’s hand and what is not. Viewers find themselves confronted with a dilemma: “is the artwork serving as a decoration or is it the decoration serving as an artwork? ”
John M Armleder, Zakk Wylde IV (FS), 2011