Yau: So in ’47 you decided to be an artist and be original, but you made your first original pieces around 1962, right, when you did the sculptureHandle.
Artschwager: Yeah, in ’62. Formica, it came to my rescue, and non-European handy instincts, which is, what materials to use. “Handle” was made from stair railing, something that the individual naturally grips.
Yau: Things that people touch, like tables, chairs, and drawers..."
Artschwager is known for both his sculptures and paintings. In 1960 he began experimenting with illusional art, creating sculptures that resembled unremarkable objects yet played to an extent with optics. He first explored optical illusions with a series of pieces entitled "Table and Chair."
"Table and Chair," 1963-4
"Table and Two Chairs," 1965
MoMA notes his similarity to minimalism, and deems his gravitation towards this type of representation as a response to Pop Art.
Artschwager: ...What I am talking about is looking for originality. And above all one doesn’t want to be “school of.” For an artist that is the kiss of death.
Yau: You were associated Pop Art at the beginning.
Artschwager: The expression Pop Art is grossly misleading; there is nothing popular about it. Context is a useful thing to pay attention to. Cubism is another one that is misleading, that period has nothing to do with cubes. If you think of shingles you get a better idea.
Artschwager paintings also play with optics in a very different style than his sculptures. Mimicking antique photography, Artschwager used acrylics to portray modern culture.