Movies Were Shown Without The Picture

Louise Lawler, A Movie Will Be Shown Without The Picture, 1979, invitation card, 4 5/8 x 7 1/8 in., collection: metmuseum, a 2014 gift of the artist

Never too much of Louise Lawler. This morning Andrew Russeth saw something on social media that reminded him of Lawler’s 1979 work, advertised above, A Movie Will Be Shown Without The Picture. The piece was presented in conjunction with Lawler’s first show. The first movie she showed without the picture was John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), but she likes for the movie to change each time it’s presented, and for the title to not be published in advance.

The most recent screenings I’m aware of were in 2017, during her retrospective at MoMA. I guess she doesn’t want the titles of the films screened archived, either.

Dave Dyment points to Bruce Hainley, who makes a very satisfying connection between A Movie Will Be Shown Without A Picture and the book work Lawler published the previous year, “a screenplay without a movie.” The book now known as Untitled (Black/White) was sold for either $4.95 or $100, depending on which price was circled. Dyment shows an example where someone requested Lawler to sign a cheaper version, which she called “perverse”—in the signed note she provided instead. The relevance of this anecdote will, I hope, only deepen in the coming days.