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 Joseph Kosuth  (1945 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: conceptual, caligraphic installation

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Ad Code: 2
Joseph Kosuth
from Auction House Records.
FIVE WORDS IN YELLOW NEON
© 2001 Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Joseph Kosuth is one of the first Conceptual artists, concerned with the mechanics of meaning in language, especially words used in various contexts. He has done installations with text, quotes, and definitions sometimes combined with photographs and objects. In 1969, when he was 24 years old, Kosuth wrote an essay about art that was published and "became a founding text of Conceptualism". He asserted that philosophy was dead and was replaced by art whose purpose was to deliver information with disposable materials, which were "little more than historical curiosities". In this way, art became an ascetic faith and fulfills spiritual needs.

Maturing as an artist, Joseph Kosuth held to his conceptualist theories but also expanded his beliefs so that he is not committed to only one approach. Many of his late 20th and early 21st century works are dreamlike, focused on what the brain does during sleep when language processing does seemingly illogical things.

Joseph Kosuth began his art education at the Toledo Museum School of Design from 1955 to 1962 and then took private lessons from Line Bloom Draper, a Belgian painter. In 1963, he enrolled in the Cleveland Art Institute and then spent the following year travelling in Europe and exploring the connections between language and art expression and concluded that language has meaning only unto itself. Using this idea, he did a series in neon lights, "Neon Electrical Light English Glass Letters Red Eight" in which eight words in neon only express the elements of neon---nothing more. In a 1981 retrospective of his work, he had pieces with words mechanically printed on paper and then partially covered by tape.

From 1968, Joseph Kosuth has been a faculty member of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 1969, he organized an exhibition titled "Fifteen Locations" where he had fifteen of his works located at fifteen museums and on exhibition display simultaneously.

He has been co-editor of "Fox" magazine, 1975 to 1976, and art editor of "Marxist Perspectives, 1977 to 1978.

Kosuth has had studios in New York and Ghent, Belgium. He has participated in the 1987 Whitney Biennial Exhibition and the 1993 Venice Biennial. In 2001, he completed an installation titled "Guests and Foreigners: Corporal Histories," on the walls and hallways of the Wall Street headquarters of the American Foundation for AIDS Research.


Sources include:
Nancy Princenthal, 'Reading Between the Lines', "Art in America", March 2005
Guggenheim Museum Collection

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