NEW YORK, NY.- The Jewish Museum
has put on exhibition in its lobby a work by the pioneering Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, 'À Propos (Réflecteur de Réflecteur) #58' (2004). The phrase in this piece - "Marx's and Freud's combined lesson: they have taught us that man has meaning only on the condition that he view himself as meaningful" - is quoted from the social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and refers back to Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. 'À Propos' reflects the way philosophy is built on arguments by and with earlier thinkers.
Over nearly four decades Kosuth has explored the relationships of art, language, and philosophy, using a wide range of media. 'À Propos (Réflecteur de Réflecteur) #58' was originally one component in a monumental, labyrinthine installation consisting of eighty-six quotations from dozens of philosophers, fabricated in vinyl letters on glass, backlit in neon. The quotations, affixed to the walls in vertical and horizontal patterns, do not add up to a single worldview but form a multiplicity of voices played out in an intricate intellectual game.
Visitors to The Jewish Museum will be able to see the work through January 6, 2013.
One of the founders of Conceptual art, Joseph Kosuth is best known for his provocative text-based works. Like a number of Conceptual artists, Kosuth has written many theoretical treatises on art. His seminal 1969 essay "Art after Philosophy" is a virtual primer for Conceptualism and sets forth its core premise: that art as an idea is more important than its physical reality.
Joseph Kosuth was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1945, and came to New York in 1965 to attend the School of Visual Arts; he would later join the faculty. He soon abandoned painting and began making conceptual works, which were first shown in 1967 at the exhibition space he co-founded, known as the Museum of Normal Art. In 1969 Kosuth held his first solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York and in the same year became the American editor of the journal Art and Language. His nearly forty year inquiry into the relation of language and art has taken the form of installations, museum exhibitions, public commissions and publications throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia. His work has been a mainstay of numerous international surveys, including Documenta V, VI, VII and IX (1972, 1978, 1982, 1992) and the Biennale di Venezia in 1976, 1993 and 1999. Most recently, he exhibited Il Linguaggio dell'Equilibrio / The Language of Equilibrium at the Monastic Headquarters of the Mekhitarian Order on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice, presented concurrently with the 2007 Biennale di Venezia. Awards include the Brandeis Award, 1990; Frederick Weisman Award, 1991; the Menzione d'Onore at the Venice Biennale, 1993; and the Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government in 1993. Joseph Kosuth lives and works in New York and Rome.