Memories of Luv
Foil, staples, and other media
11 x 16 x 14 1/2 in (27.94 x 36.83 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. The diorama-like sculpture Memories of Luv (1973) displays a colorful garden sheltering plastic birds, candy wrappers, and a golden-robed humanoid figure. Lanigan-Schmidt reconstructs the visual language of his Catholic faith in laboriously assembled, often shiny objects that become vehicles of gay self-expression and of critical inquiry into the nature of the art object.
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.
Memories of Luv (1973) forms a sharp foil to the Minimal and Conceptual practices of the 1960s and the somber and highly-produced work of artists like Donald Judd or Sol Lewitt, and rather attempts to find redemption 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.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, 1993
Other works by Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt
Byzantine Neo-Platonic Rectangles #19 (1986-93)