Joseph Kosuth
‘A Short History of My Thought’

'A Short History of My Thought'
, 2017
Installation view. Photography: Zan Wimberley. Courtesy Joseph Kosuth Studio and Anna Schwartz Gallery.
Click to enlarge

In the 1960s, when his practice as an artist began, Joseph Kosuth was one of the leading pioneers of a movement that would alter the trajectory of modern art. Freeing the form of art from its reliance on the purely visual, his introduction of language into site-specific installations opened up new channels, through which to explore the relationship between ideas and their physical expression with a result that we understand better how meaning is constructed. The rigour and acuity with which he has explored the making of meaning itself has gone on to influence generations to follow. Over the decades, Kosuth has never ceased probing the capacity of art to cut through to the essential questions of existence. This survey of his continuing practice is testament to a legacy that still alters the way we see things today.

“Kosuth’s pairings of high-minded content with common materials have a hypersaturating, destabilizing effect that eliminates hierarchies… a virtual ambush of information through which meaning is eventually, hopefully, distilled.” Anne Prentnieks, Art Forum, 2015

Joseph Kosuth is one of the pioneers of Conceptual art and installation art, initiating language based works and appropriation strategies in the 1960s. His work has consistently explored the production and role of language and meaning within art. His more than forty year inquiry into the relation of language to art has taken the form of installations, museum exhibitions, public commissions and publications throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia, including seven Documenta(s) and nine Venice Biennale(s), one of which was presented in the Hungarian Pavilion (1993). 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. He received a Cassandra Foundation Grant in 1968. In June 1999, a 3.00 franc postage stamp was issued by the French Government in honour of his work in Figeac. In February 2001, he received the Laura Honoris Causa, doctorate in Philosophy and Letters from the University of Bologna. In 2001 his novel, ‘Purloined’ was published by Salon Verlag, Cologne. In October 2003 he received the Austrian Republic’s highest honour for accomplishments in science and culture, the Decoration of Honour in Gold for services to the Republic of Austria.

Kosuth’s work entitled ni apparence ni illusion opened at the Musee du Louvre, Paris in 2009 and became a permanent installation in 2014. This work was recently installed in the new location of the Hall Charles V in the Louvre. His commission to create a work for the façade of the Council of State at The Hague was unveiled in 2011. In 2012 Kosuth received la classe des Arts de l’Académie Royale from the Académie Royale Sciences des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts of Belgium. In 2015 the Instituto Superior de Arte, at the University of Havana, awarded him an Honoris Causa doctorate, presented during the 12th Havana Art Biennial where he exhibited an extensive installation at the Biblioteca Nacional. Also in 2015 Kosuth revealed A Monument of Mines, a major site-specific installation for the new cultural center in Kongsberg, Norway. Kosuth recently unveiled ‘One Field to the Next’ a permanent work at the Taipei Main Station. Kosuth is currently working on a new public commission at the Miami Beach Convention Centre and a publicly funded commission for a landmarked civic building in the United States, on the facade of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, 1945. Educated at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 1963-64; The School of Visual Arts, New York City, 1965-67; New School for Social Research, New York, (anthropology and philosophy) 1971-72; Department of Fine Art, The School of Visual Arts, New York City 1967-1985; Professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg, 1988-90; Staatliche Akademie der Bildende Künste, Stuttgart, 1991-1997; and the Kunstakademie Munich, 2001-2006. Kosuth has functioned as visiting professor and guest lecturer at various universities and institutions for nearly forty years, some of which include: Yale University, Cornell University, New York University, Duke University, UCLA, Cal Arts, Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Royal Academy, Copenhagen, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University, University of Rome, Berlin Kunstakademie, Royal College of Art, London, Glasgow School of Art, The Hayward Gallery, London, The Sorbonne, Paris, The Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna. Presently he holds the endowed Millard Chair at Goldsmiths, Department of Fine Arts, University of London. Joseph Kosuth lives and works in London and New York City.

‘A Short History of My Thought’ is presented in association with Melbourne Festival.

Joseph Kosuth

‘W.F.T. #1’ [Yellow]
, 2008
Yellow neon mounted directly on the wall
334 x 850 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘#II49. (On Color/Multi #3)’
, 1991
White, red, yellow, orange, violet, green, and blue neon mounted directly on the wall
13.5 x 396 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘J.J. (F.W. #35)’
, 2012
Warm white neon mounted directly on the wall
65.7 x 464.8 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘The Paradox of Content #6’ [Violet]
, 2009
Violet neon mounted directly on the wall
168 x 167 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Double Reading #12’
, 1993
Silkscreen on laminated glass, white neon mounted directly on the wall
75 x 152.5 cm (overall)

Joseph Kosuth

‘A Conditioning of Consciousness’
, 1988
Blue neon mounted directly on the wall, black & white photograph
250 x 194 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Neon’
, 1965
White neon mounted directly on the wall
12 x 40 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘A/C (J.J.:F.W.)’
, 2011
Warm white neon mounted directly on the wall
16 x 125 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Five Fives (to Donald Judd)’ [Ruby Red]
, 1965
Red neon mounted directly on the wall
79.5 x 545 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Self-Defined Object’ [Orange]
, 1966
Orange neon mounted directly on the wall
10 x 173 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘The Paradox of Content #4’ [Orange]
, 2009
Orange neon mounted directly on the wall
243 x 164 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Mondrian’s Work XI’
, 2015
Silkscreen on glass, white neon mounted directly on the wall
200 x 200 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘Double Reference #1’ [Violet]
, 2007
Violet neon mounted directly on the wall
28 x 231 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘L.W.’s Last Word’ [Pink]
, 1991
Pink neon mounted directly on the wall
75 x 245 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘(Waiting for-) Texts for Nothing #5’
, 2010
Warm white neon, dipped in matt black, mounted directly on the wall
17.5 x 422.5 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘(Waiting for-) Texts for Nothing #8’
, 2010
Warm white neon, dipped in matt black, mounted directly on the wall
17.5 x 104 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘(Waiting for-) Texts for Nothing #14’
, 2010
Warm white neon, dipped in matt black, mounted directly on the wall
17.5 x 418 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘(Waiting for-) Texts for Nothing #10’
, 2010
Warm white neon, dipped in matt black, mounted directly on the wall
17.5 x 1840 cm

Joseph Kosuth

‘(Waiting for-) Texts for Nothing #6’
, 2010
Warm white neon, dipped in matt black, mounted directly on the wall

17.5 x 245 cm