Byzantine Neo-Platonic Rectangles #19
Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, theater gels, glow-tape, vinyl, linoleum, staples and pipe cleaners on panel
48 x 12 in (121.92 x 30.48 cm)
Image courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt (b. 1948 Elizabeth, NJ) lives and works in New York City. Byzantine Neo-Platonic Rectangles #19 (1986-93) is part of the “Byzantine Panel” series originally exhibited at Holly Solomon Gallery in 1993 and is constructed from meticulously collaged theater gels and colored foils used in underground theater and drag performances.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt’s mixed-media constructions, collages, and installations are marked by a trashy opulence concocted from household items and dollar stores. Mimicking Byzantine decoration with cellophane, aluminum foil, tinsel and glitter, Lanigan-Schmidt  pioneered a maximalist aesthetic in the late 1960s that explored gay sexuality, class struggle, and religion. Mingling high with low, and sacred with profane, Lanigan-Schmidt bucked the reductive tastes of conceptualism and minimalism that dominated his youth, creating a radically decorative practice.
– Exhibition text, “Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk,” MoMA PS1, 18 November 2012 – 7 April 2013
The skinny proportion and geometric patterning of the Byzantine Panels recalls hard-edge and Minimal painting but Lanigan-Schmidt attempts to find transcendence through detritus or the supporting accessories of life, insisting on the hand-made and the readymade. Ken Johnson notes, “[a]s he consecrates trash, Mr. Lanigan-Schmidt redeems his own fallen humanity, making it the stuff of art that is as aesthetically rich as it is spiritually expansive.” As a teenage runaway, Lanigan-Schmidt found community with the street kids and patrons of the Stonewall Inn in the West Village, actively participating in the Stonewall riots of 1969 and becoming a gay rights activist, invited to the White House in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.
Lanigan-Schmidt’s hand-made, anti-monumental, hyperbolic, devotional works create interesting dialogues to the work of Danny McDonald and Vaginal Davis.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1993
“Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk,” MoMA PS1, 18 November 2012 – 7 April 2013
“Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Parker Gallery, Los Angeles, 10 April – 22 May 2021
Other works by Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Memories of Luv (1973)
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thomas Langian-Schmidt in the collection of the MoMA
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at Pavel Zoubok Fine Art
Video interview with Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Ryan McNamara, “Interviews: Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt,” Artforum, June 25, 2019
Lisa Turvey, “Review: Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at MoMA PS1,” Artforum, March 2013
Ken Johnson, “The Alchemy of Debris Forged Into Passion,” The New York Times, December 6, 2012
“Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Halfway to Paradise,” Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 29 October – 14 December 1988