Joseph Kosuth

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Joseph Kosuth (born January 31, 1945 in Toledo , Ohio ) is an American conceptual artist.

Joseph Kosuth, "A silent library" in the Thurgau Art Museum, Ittingen Charterhouse

life and work

Kosuth studied from 1955 to 1962 at the "Toledo Museum School of Arts", from 1963 for one year at the "Cleveland Art Institute" and from 1965 to 1967 at the School of Visual Arts in New York . He was the founder and director of the "Museum of Normal Art". From 1971 to 1972 he studied anthropology and philosophy at the New School for Social Research , New York.

He has also been active as a journalist since 1969. In 1969 he was co-editor of the magazine " Art & Language " and also worked for some time with the Art & Language group . In 1975/77 he was co-editor of "The Fox" and from 1977 to 1978 artistic editor of "Marxistic Perspectives".

He is one of the main proponents and founders of the analytical direction of Conceptual Art , ie he deals “with an investigation of the nature of art” (Kosuth) and with the problems of sensory perception - the reality, the identity and the definition of the object.

His work " One and Three Chairs " (1965) became a major work of conceptual art. In the mode of an artistic room installation, the "everyday trinity" of word, image and object of a chair is juxtaposed: "real" chair, photo of the same and an entry about it in a dictionary. In the work Frame - One and Three , in which the word “Frame” corresponds to three different states: a simple wooden frame as an objet trouvé on the left , a photograph of the object in its original size in the middle, and his on the right verbal definition. The latter is a photographic enlargement of the article on the keyword "Frame" from an English-German dictionary. What is meant here is no longer the frame as an object, what is meant is the difference between three different forms of information about an object: an example of the “visualization of thought processes”.

Kosuth lives in New York and has been teaching there since 1968 at the “School for Visual Arts”. In 1991 he was appointed to a professorship for painting at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart as the successor to KRH Sonderborg , a teaching post that he gave up prematurely in 1997 after the then university management did not share his liberal view of artistic teaching. He then taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich (2001-06). His students include a. Claude Horstmann , Michel Majerus , Wawrzyniec Tokarski (Stuttgart) and Jens Semjan (Munich).

To teaching

In 1995, Joseph Kosuth, then professor at the Stuttgart Art Academy, expressed his view of art and art theory in a stringent way:

My work is based on the basic idea that artists work with meaning and not with shape and color. In creating meaning (which also includes erasing or appropriating existing meaning) the artist is free to use whatever is already in the world. There can be no new 'shapes' and 'colors' without a transformation of their meaning for the living. "
My teaching activity therefore mainly deals with questions. In dealing with my students, I emphasize the question of the 'why' of art, without which the 'how' (craft, technology) is pointless. "
Traditional forms of art are seen as a historical source, but are now essentially understood as a form of authoritarian authority that presides over the work of an individual and thus blocks the ability of contemporary artists to do authentic and personal work. "

Exhibitions (selection)


Exhibition catalogs

  • Joseph Kosuth: Investigations on art & "problem areas" since 1965 , 5 issues, Kunstmuseum Luzern and Kunsthalle Tübingen , 1973.
  • Joseph Kosuth: Contributions to Conceptual Art , Kunsthalle Bremen , 1976.
  • Joseph Kosuth: Meaning of Meaning: Texts and documentation of the investigations into art since 1965 in selection , Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 1981.
  • Exchange of meaning: translation in the work of Joseph Kosuth , Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst , Antwerp 1989.
  • Joseph Kosuth: No thing, no me, no form, no principle (are safe) , installation in the Villa Merkel, Esslingen, 1992, ISBN 3-89322-487-4 .
  • The play of the unmentionable: an installation by Joseph Kosuth at the Brooklyn Museum , 1992, ISBN 0-500-23647-X .
  • Joseph Kosuth: Guests and Strangers: Goethe's Italian Journey , Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 1999, ISBN 3-87877-800-7 .
  • Wulf Herzogenrath and Dorothea van der Koelen: Documents of Our Time XXXIII: Panta Rhei , Chorus - Verlag, Mainz 2005, ISBN 3-926663-33-2


  • Charles LeVine, Ed .: Joseph Kosuth, interviews 1969 - 1989. 15 conversations in English. Depending on the edition of the publication z. Some have been translated from sources in German or French, as well as from Italy, Belgium, Denmark or Portugal. Patricia Schwarz, Stuttgart 1989 ISBN 3925911235 . Complete bibliography up to 1989, art print panels with illus.


Web links

Commons : Joseph Kosuth  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart. Realized by students of the class Hans-Georg Pospischil. Illustrations: Heinz Edelmann . Stuttgart: State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, 1995, p. 45.
  2. One and Three Chairs 1965, pp. 70ff .; Xerox Book 1968, p. 167; The Second Investigation, from 1968, pp. 169ff .; The Tenth Investigation, Proposition One, 1974 pp. 281-294.