Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Attempting a Nod

We have to add Joseph Kosuth to our list of text artists because he’s a pioneer of language-based work and more generally Conceptual Art. A selection of his early works is on view at Sean Kelly through December 6.

Kosuth is the kind of artist I’m grateful to – for expanding notions of art by helping art become conscious of itself, by including what is outside the frame, and even in the viewer’s mind as part of the piece – but who makes me feel kind of stupid, and mostly superficial for even thinking about esthetics instead of meaning and structure. But, that’s my problem, not his.

Kosuth’s work counters excess and formalism in art when used for its own sake. What’s important are the ideas. And even what you have in front of you on the wall is just a model. “The actual works of art are the ideas,” he has said.

How could you approach this piece pictured here (from the mid-60s)? For one, it's art literally referring to itself. It's not about formalism, but about redundant meaning. They call it tautology.

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