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Joseph Kosuth (born January 31, 1945, Toledo, Ohiomarker) is an Americanmarker conceptual artist.

Life and work

Kosuth studied fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York Citymarker from 1965 to 1967.

His art generally strives to explore the nature of art, focusing on ideas at the fringe of art rather than on producing art per se. Thus his art is very self-referential, and a typical statement of his goes:
"The 'value' of particular artists after Duchamp can be weighed according to how much they questioned the nature of art."

One of his most famous works is "One and Three Chairs", a visual expression of Plato's concept of The Forms. The piece features a physical chair, a photograph of that chair, and the text of a dictionary definition of the word "chair". The photograph is a representation of the actual chair situated on the floor, in the foreground of the work of art. The definition, posted on the same wall as the photograph, delineates in words the concept of what a chair is, in its various incarnations. In this and other, similar works, Five Words in Blue Neon and Glass One and Three, Kosuth forwards tautological statements, where the works literally are what they say they are.

In an addition to his artwork, he has written several books on the nature of art and artists, including Artist as Anthropologist.In his essay "Art after Philosophy" (1969), he argued that art is the continuation of philosophy, which he saw at an end. Like the Situationists, he rejected formalism as an exercise in aesthetics, with its function to be aesthetic. Formalism, he said, limits the possibilities for art with minimal creative effort put forth by the formalist. Further, since concept is overlooked by the formalist, "Formalist criticism is no more than an analysis of the physical attributes of particular objects which happen to exist in a morphological context". He further argues that the "change from 'appearance' to 'conception' (which begins with Duchamp's first unassisted readymade) was the beginning of 'modern art' and the beginning of 'conceptual art'." Kosuth explains that works of conceptual art are analytic propositions. They are linguistic in character because they express definitions of art. This makes them tautological. In this vein is another of his well-known pieces: In Figeacmarker, Lotmarker, Francemarker, on the "Place des écritures" (writings place) is a giant copy of the Rosetta stone.


  1. Kosuth J., (1969), Art after Philosophy
  2. Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson, Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, MIT Press, 1999, pxl. ISBN 0262511177

References and notes

  • Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson, Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, MIT Press, 1999, pxl. ISBN 0262511177
  • Joseph Kosuth, Art After Philosophy and After, Collected Writings, 1966-1990. Ed. by G. Guercio, foreword by Jean-Francois Lyotard, MIT Press, 1991 (ISBN 0-262-11157-8 /ISBN 978-0-262-11157-7)
  • Dreher, Thomas: Konzeptuelle Kunst in Amerika und England zwischen 1963 und 1976, Thesis Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t Munich 1991/Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1992, p.70ff. (One and Three Chairs, 1965), 167 (Xerox Book, 1968), 169ff. (The Second Investigation, since 1968), 281-294 (The Tenth Investigation, Proposition One, 1974); ISBN 3-631-43215-1 (in German)

See also

External links

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