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Artists Joseph Kosuth
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Joseph Kosuth

American Conceptual Artist and Theoretician

Movement: Conceptual Art

Born: January 31, 1945 - Toledo, Ohio

Joseph Kosuth Timeline

Quotes

"I was being dealt with as an eccentric. And that made me very unhappy. I thought I had a new agenda for art. But I realized nobody would listen to me unless I had a movement around. Nobody would get the message."
Joseph Kosuth
"All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually."
Joseph Kosuth
"The work process begins when I start selecting quotations from a large collection I already have ... I go through hundreds of these amassed quotes from my own research and that of my staff, make my choices, and then continually add them in relation to the quotes I already have selected."
Joseph Kosuth
"Anything can be art. Art is the relations between relations, not the relations between objects."
Joseph Kosuth
"Making something new to look at is a futile and empty act if its only audience is the eyes."
Joseph Kosuth

"It is necessary to separate aesthetics from art because aesthetics deals with opinions on perception of the world in general."

Joseph Kosuth Signature

Synopsis

Joseph Kosuth was one of the originators of Conceptual art in the mid-1960s, which became a major movement that thrived into the 1970s and remains influential. He pioneered the use of words in place of visual imagery of any kind and explored the relationship between ideas and the images and words used to convey them. His series of One and Three installations (1965), in which he assembled an object, a photograph of that object, and an enlarged photographic copy of the dictionary definition of it, explored these relationships directly. His enlarged photostats of dictionary definitions in his series Art as Idea as Idea (1966-68) eliminated objects and images completely in order to focus on meaning conveyed purely with language. Since the 1970s, he has made numerous site-specific installations that continue to explore how we experience, comprehend, and respond to language.

Key Ideas

Kosuth believed that images and any traces of artistic skill and craft should be eliminated from art so that ideas could be conveyed as directly, immediately, and purely as possible. There should be no obstacles to conveying ideas, and so images should be eliminated since he considered them obstacles. This notion became one of the major forces that made Conceptual art a movement in the late-1960s.
Kosuth has often explored the relationships between words and their meanings and how words relate to the objects and things they name or describe. He has been fascinated with the equivalences between the visual and the linguistic. To this extent, he was influenced by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's ideas on language.
Many of Kosuth's installations and displays of words have incorporated excerpts from literature, philosophy, psychology, and history that have that have intrigued him. Consequently, he has used the presentation of language to make his audience contemplate issues of poverty, racism, loneliness, isolation, the meaning of life, and personal identity - usually without any clear, overt commentary of his own. In this, Kosuth embodies how the contemporary artist may become a philosopher and moralist.
Since he usually relies on the writing of others in his presentations of words and texts, Kosuth's work represents how Conceptual art, like much of postmodernism, involves a lot of appropriation, in his case the sources being written and verbal as opposed to visual or art historical. His chosen texts are usually not particularly descriptive nor do they attempt to create images with words.

Biography

Joseph Kosuth Photo

Early Life and Study

Joseph Kosuth was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1945. He studied at the Toledo Museum School of Design starting at the very early age of ten and continued there until 1962, during which time he studied with the Belgian painter Line Bloom Draper. He enrolled at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1963 and studied drawing and painting there for a year. After traveling abroad for a year, he moved to New York City in 1965 and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts, where he studied painting until 1967. By this time, he was already questioning the usefulness of imagery in conveying meanings and ideas and was exploring the uses of language.

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Joseph Kosuth Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Joseph Kosuth
Interactive chart with Joseph Kosuth's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
Joseph BeuysJoseph Beuys
Yves KleinYves Klein
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg

Personal Contacts

Claude Levi-StraussClaude Levi-Strauss
Ludwig WittgensteinLudwig Wittgenstein
A. J. AyerA. J. Ayer
Walter BenjaminWalter Benjamin

Movements

Existentialism in Modern ArtExistentialism in Modern Art
DadaDada
FluxusFluxus
HappeningsHappenings
Neo-DadaNeo-Dada

Influences on Artist
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Years Worked: 1965 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Barbara KrugerBarbara Kruger
Damien HirstDamien Hirst
Nam June PaikNam June Paik
Bruce NaumanBruce Nauman
Jenny HolzerJenny Holzer

Personal Contacts

Lawrence WeinerLawrence Weiner
Robert BarryRobert Barry
Ian BurnIan Burn

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Installation ArtInstallation Art
Land ArtLand Art

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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