• 1986
  • Lawrence Weiner
  • language + the materials referred to
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1986
  • Inventory number 1553
  • schenking kunstenaar / donation artist

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

If you need specific information on this work or artist, remember that the Van Abbemuseum Library is at your disposal, or feel free to write to the library.


This work by the American artist Lawrence Weiner consists of the text 'SMALL STONES SCATTERED ON THE GROUND'. In this work, the text is shown in black capital letters on the wall of an exhibition gallery in the Van Abbemuseum Entr’acte, the temporary accommodation between 1995 and 2003. Owning a work by Weiner means that the owner has a certificate with the text and the right to execute this text (or have it executed). In doing this he is free to determine the size, type, colour and position of the letters on a background. Weiner writes his texts in English. In addition they may also be shown in the language which is spoken in the place where it is presented.

Weiner started as a painter, but has used language as a medium for his work since 1968. He thinks of texts which can be read out to the public either by himself or by others. He believes that in the end the way his work is presented is unimportant. Describing his work in linguistic terms is sufficient for him. In this respect he said: “1. The artist can make the work himself. 2. The work can be made. 3. The work does not have to be carried out. All the possibilities are equal and correspond to the artist’s intention. The decision about its capacity is made by the recipient on the occasion of receiving the work.” Although he uses the medium of language, Weiner is considered a visual artist. When the viewer reads one of his texts he can form an image.

Weiner’s first texts describe a concrete act or situation which is easy to imagine. Later texts can be more abstract and relate more to the creation of a mental space, than on something that is imaginable in concrete terms. 'SMALL STONES SCATTERED ON THE GROUND' is an example of the first sort. However, every viewer will have a different image of the stones, of the background and of the way in which the stones are spread out on it. Weiner was one of the founders of conceptual art. The idea had priority in this and the execution was subordinate; the appearance of a conceptual work was often dependant on arbitrary circumstances. In Weiner’s case, the execution of a work was usually temporary. After an exhibition, the text was removed or painted over. Next time it might appear again in a different form.

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