The Jewish Museum has just put on display in its lobby a new work by Lawrence Weiner, NO TREE NO BRANCH (2011/12). This large-scale drawing, presented directly on the museum wall in adhesive vinyl, is on public view in New York for the first time. Visitors to The Jewish Museum will be able to see NO TREE NO BRANCH through May 13, 2012. The drawing is part of a series Weiner began in 2011; an electronic version of NO TREE NO BRANCH can be seen on the website of Dokumenta 13.
Weiner has re-worked an original Yiddish saying, "All the Stars in the Sky Have the Same Face" into Hebrew, English and Arabic, using the three languages to transform an originally isolationist "them/us" adage into an inclusive, non-hierarchical statement outlining one of the foremost precepts of peace. The sayings are arranged to break a circle, along with the words, NO TREE and NO BRANCH. Another text, in the center of the broken circle, reads AN OLIVE TREE IS AN OLIVE TREE FOR ALL THAT. These simple statement/icons can be seen as plain unambiguous shapes. Yet, arranged together, they also bear deep symbolic meaning - the olive branch of peace, the tree of life, and the representation of movement with curvilinear lines to express simultaneity. The artist considers this work his "contribution to the dialogue."
Lawrence Weiner (American, born 1942) was one of the original conceptual artists who emerged in the late 1960s. Alongside the work of Joseph Kosuth, Mel Bochner, and Sol Lewitt, conceptual artists stressed the artists' concept or idea over the physical reality of the work. Weiner's texts, usually painted or applied directly on the wall, offer alternatives to depiction: they represent physical situations along with philosophical concepts. From time to time over the years he has occasionally turned to ethical concerns as well.