Allan Wexler - Absurd Thinking: Between Art and Design, Lars Müller Publishers

Absurd Thinking: Between Art and Design is a survey of work by artist/architect Allan Wexler. The book features projects developed across the artist's forty-five-year career that mediate the gap between fine and applied art using the mediums of architecture, sculpture, photography, painting, and drawing. Wexler's works can be broadly described as tactile poetry composed by re-framing the ordinary. They sustain a narrative about landscape, nature, and the built environment that highlights the intriguing and surprising characteristics latent in the elements and rituals that pervade daily life. Wexler's work is sometimes functional sometimes theoretical, and often a hybrid of the two. In all cases, it demonstrates a commitment to re-evaluating basic assumptions about the human relationship to the built and natural environments. Organized thematically across four categories—Abstraction, Landscape, Private Space and Public Places—this book is a richly illustrated cross-section of Wexler's multi-scale, multi-media work featuring his own writings, narratives and reflections. Included are critical contributions by Patricia Phillips, writer, curator and Academic Dean at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia; Sean Anderson, associate curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and Michele Calzavara, writer, curator and architect.

Absurd Thinking: Between Art and Design is certain to instigate creative thought among designers and artists, and offer new strategies for examining the inhabited environment.

Lecture by Allan Wexler California College of the Arts,

Presented by the Furniture Program
Wednesday, February 11, 7:00 pm
Timken Lecture Hall, San Francisco Campus

Free and open to the public
Reception: 6 p.m.
More info: Vikki Del Rosario, vdelrosario[at]cca[dot]edu

Allan Wexler's career resists easy classification. He is best known as a hands-on maker. He explores the fields of architecture and design as an artist. 

In the late 1960s Wexler was an early member of the group of architects and artists who questioned the perceived divide between art and the design disciplines. They called themselves "nonarchitects, antiarchitects, and paper architects."

Throughout his 45-year career he has reevaluated our most basic assumptions about our relationship to what we build, why we build, and how it affects our daily lives. 

Wexler's works explore the poetics of space and the nonfunction in the functional, how we create ritual, the power of the handcrafted in the time of digital, and the use of chance and the value of accident, our body’s relationship to the built, and our roots from the primitive hut.

He has been represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York since 1984 and has exhibited, taught, and lectured nationally and internationally since 1972.

Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Source Material, Lehman College Gallery / CUNY

Allan Wexler - Breaking Ground at Ronald Feldman Gallery thru May 3, 2014

Allan Wexler: I Want to Become an Architect, by Michele Calzavara, Inventario Magazine, January 2014 for full 20 page article see Publications

Lecture: Thursday, November 28 at 8:00 Museum der Dinge, Berlin

Drawn Into Architecture: On Fine Art and Applied Art

Lecture by Allan Wexler on His Work as an Artist and Architect

Introduction by Dr Michael Fehr
Lecture in English; Free Admission
Organized by the Institute for Art in Context, Berlin University of the Arts, in collaboration with the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge

Thursday, November 28, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Place: Werkbundarchiv - Museum der Dinge

For more than thirty years, the New York artist Allan Wexler has been purposefully moving between the disciplines of art, design and architecture. In his diverse and original oeuvre, he has analysed and ironized our day-to-day actions and activities by producing crazy things. He turns the logic of utility against itself by taking everyday utensils, such as a chair, as opportunities for artistic investigations, which often lead to fundamental questions, such as whether sitting can be an artistic act.

"My love for architecture grew as I began to investigate fine art. Art distances us from the familiar. Art points at the world. Art and architecture (applied art) are situated on opposite ends of line, an axis. One end is hot one is cold. One is sound one is silence. One is black one is white. These ends are aligned - on the same line. This line is labeled art. An oscillation between these two ends creates a vibration. A sine wave connects fine art with applied art. They are equal but opposite. Fine art resonates with the applied art.

Joseph Beuys made a sculpture of a sterling silver push broom equating work with spiritual ritual and ceremony. The Shakers hang chairs on the wall as if they are paintings. Scott Burton built minimalist sculptures that could be sat upon.  

As a young architect I built buildings in series using the scientific method after listening to Steve Reich’s Phase Music and reading John Cage’s book called Silence. I understood Peter Eisenman’s early houses by studying Sol Lewitt’s Open Cubes. Dan Graham photographs and films inspired me to read Robert Venturi which gave me the encouragement to produce a body of work called Proposals for the Typical House.

Like Italo Calvino’s Baron in the Trees distance gives us insight. The fine artist helps us to see architecture. Our egos don’t allow us to be inspired by living architects, we feel intimidated, perhaps envious. We worry about being derivative. We are afraid to rip-off. We don’t want to be second rate. A painting can break through this psychological wall. A sculpture can enter into our psyche. Music can push us into new directions. A performance can lever out an idea from within a densely packed architectural head."

Lecture at Parsons the New School for Design, Thursday - September 12 at 6:00

Lecture: Friday November 1, 2013 | 5:00 pm Business Rotunda (03-213), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Allan & Ellen Wexler

Friday November 1, 2013 | 5:00 pm  Business Rotunda (03-213), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


Allan Wexler and Ellen Wexler are a collaborative team involved in interdisciplinary projects that aim to dissolve the boundaries between the fine arts and the applied arts, between furniture design, architecture and theatrical performance, between sculpture and interactive exhibition design and between the practice and the research of architecture. 

The Wexler’s works include architecture, public and private art commissions and museum education environments. They explore human activity and the built environment as they isolate, elevate, and monumentalize daily rituals such as dining, sleeping, and bathing. The works, in turn, become mechanisms that activate ritual, ceremony and movement, turning these ordinary activities into theater. 

In 2013 Allan Wexler was awarded the Henry J. Leir Prize for his work, Gardening Sukkah, in recognition of work that expresses the dynamic, ever-evolving practice of religion today. Allan Wexler is represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York City and teaches in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. 

For more information on Allan and Ellen Wexler, visit

This lecture is co-sponsored with the Vellum Furniture Design Competition & Exhibition

Group Exhibition - Summer of Love: Found and Lost

Inside Flows features Building for Water Collection with Bathroom

These are All the Books on My Drawing Table in My Studio at 305 West 20th Street on February 8, 2013

Group Exhibition - Dennis-Nancy-Emmett-Sol

Group Show Museum of Art Rennes, France

Open House Roma Lecture "On the Fine Art of Applied Art"

Some Recent Southold, Long Island Studio Photos Summer 2012

Looking Toward Tool Storage

In the foreground, I am working on the Primer for Architecture (working title) building the edges of the panels. I am constructing and building the images. The content of these pieces explores the construction and derivation of architecture from the material of landscape.

Looking Toward Drawing Area

The drawing and computer area are sheathed in homosote which is great as a tack board material. My father had a darkroom in the basement of our house on French Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut and it was sheathed in homosote. I have fond memories of working with my father in his darkroom.

Looking Toward Storage

These storage units came from my former west 26th Street Studio. You are looking through the prototype for Pratt Desk, see commissions. Also notice Overlook which was a commission to be perched on the bluff overlooking Long Island Sound in Southold,

Looking Toward Lumber Storage and Chop Saw

Looking Toward Red Slat Wall Space

Originally this space was intended as a clean gallery-like area where I could exhibit my work to show visitors. Working on new photo derived pieces which constitute a Primer on Architecture, I realized that I needed a space that I could darken in order to control the photo lighting. In some of these photos you will see some of these in process.