four glass square panels and four definitions on plastic
Executed in 1965, this work is accompanied by a certifcate signed by the artist and dated 1965.
Private Collection, Switzerland
Sotheby's, London, July 2, 2008, lot 202
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
During the 1960s like-minded artists such as Sol Lewitt, Carl Andre and namely, Joseph Kosuth, questioned the nature of artistic creation, the role of the maker and the efficacy of the art object itself. At the very center of this, the Conceptual Art movement, Kosuth's work was at the pinnacle of the crusade challenging the previous ideals of post-modernism and therefore inherently inquiring into the nature of art itself.
Glass-One and Four Defined is one of the artist's most significant works from his early period and which he later would refer to as part of his "First Investigations." Here, he juxtaposes the word definitions, Clear, Square, Glass, and Lean with their physical and active correlative. The definitions address what the viewer actually sees and whose placement is meticulously implemented in accordance with the artist's original intentions that were documented in 1965: four identical transparent glass panels that lean against a wall with their word definitions installed above them. The definitions explain what the viewer sees, but may not immediately focus upon, thus forcing one to accept or at the very least, acknowledge that the objects literally are that which the texts reads. Thus, Kosuth emphasizes the overlooked conceptual relationships and disparities between an object's description and its visual image.
Kosuth strove to uncover this dichotomy, between image and meaning, by breaking down the typical unity of an artwork and instead applying a systematic approach of reductivism to each of its component parts. He aimed to deconstruct art's conventional visual appearance and exchange it with a subject's inherent materiality and physical qualities. Thus, he inherently challenges the viewer to focus not upon the aesthetic but rather upon the complex link between text and image and between image and subjectivity.
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