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8 / Writing

One and Three Chairs
One and Three Chairs
Artist / Origin Joseph Kosuth (American, b. 1945)
Region: North America
Date 1965
Material Wood chair, black and white photograph, and text
Location Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Credit © 2009 Joseph Kosuth/ARS, NY. Courtesy of CNAC/MNAM/ Dist. Reunion des Musees Nationaux/Art Resource, NY/Photo by Philippe Migea

expert perspective

Sylvia WolfDirector of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle

One and Three Chairs

» Joseph Kosuth (American, b. 1945)

expert perspective

Sylvia Wolf Sylvia Wolf Director of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle

In the 1960s artists were challenging the hierarchy of information and what was in, what made visual art art, and including words, for example, or everyday objects. And I’m thinking about Kosuth, for example, and his piece One and Three Chairs [ETY], from 1965. Equal weight is given to the physical object of a chair, to the photographic reproduction of a chair, and to the dictionary definition of a chair—all of which are on view as part of the piece—two pieces on the wall and the chair sitting in front of it. Which is the correct chair? Which is the chair that we value, which is the one that is the most important, or are they all equally symbolic and significant of chair, meaningful, communicative? The ambiguity that the work suggests is a provocation and therein lies the art as far as I’m concerned.” 

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