conceptual art and the politics of publicity
Embed Size (px)
conceptual art and the politics of publicity
The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England
a l e x a n d e r a l b e r r o
conceptual art and the politics of publicity
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or
mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval)
without permission in writing from the publisher.
The illustrations in this book are reprinted courtesy of the Siegelaub Collection & Archives, Teaneck,
New Jersey, and Amsterdam.
This book was set in Caecilia Light and Trade Gothic by Graphic Composition, Inc., Athens, Georgia,
and was printed and bound in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Conceptual art and the politics of publicity / Alexander Alberro.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-262-01196-4 (hc. : alk. paper)
1. Conceptual art—United States. 2. Art—Marketing. I. Title.
N6512.5.C64 A43 2003
To Arielle and Nora
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS viii
PART I 1
The Contradictions of Conceptual Art
Chapter One 6
Art, Advertising, Sign Value
Chapter Two 26
Art as Idea
PART I I 55
Primary and Secondary Information
Chapter Three 60
Locations, Variables, and Durations
Chapter Four 84
The Linguistic Turn
Chapter Five 102
PART I I I 123
Artists’ Rights and Product Management
Chapter Six 130
The Xerox Degree of Art
Chapter Seven 152
The Siegelaub Idea
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 212
I.1 Duane Michaels, Seth Siegelaub, 1969 3
1.1 Installation view, Laura Knott Gallery, Bradford Junior College,
4 February–2 March 1968: Carl Andre, Untitled (144 Pieces of Zinc), 1968;
Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1967; Robert Barry, Untitled, 1967 17
1.2 Robert Barry, Dan Graham, Lawrence Weiner, and Carl Andre 19
at the Windham College symposium, 30 April 1968
1.3 Carl Andre, Joint, 1968, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–31 May 1968 21
2.1 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1967 31
2.2 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1968, as installed at Gallery 669,
Los Angeles, October 1968 33
2.3 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set A), 1966 36
2.4 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set B), 1966 37
2.5 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set C), 1966 37
2.6 Joseph Kosuth in Newsweek, 29 July 1968; photograph by Lawrence Fried 43
2.7 Lawrence Weiner, Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor
from a Standard Aerosol Can, 1968 46
2.8 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1967 48
2.9 Joseph Kosuth, Second Investigation, I. Existence (Art as Idea as Idea),
1968, as installed in the exhibition “January 5–31, 1969” 50
II.1 Publicity photograph by Seth Siegelaub featuring the four participating artists
in “January 5–31, 1969”: Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth,
and Lawrence Weiner 58
3.1 Douglas Huebler, Truro Series 3-66, 1966 61
3.2 Douglas Huebler, Rochester Trip, 1968 67
3.3 Cover of Douglas Huebler: November 1968, 1968 76
3.4 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968 78
3.5 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968 78
3.6 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968 79
3.7 Douglas Huebler, Variable Piece #1, 1968 81
4.1 Lawrence Weiner, installation of Propeller paintings at Seth Siegelaub Fine Arts,
10 November–5 December 1964 85
4.2 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1966 87
4.3 Lawrence Weiner, Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, as installed at Windham College,
30 April–31 May 1968 90
4.4 Lawrence Weiner, Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, as installed at Windham College,
30 April–31 May 1968 91
4.5 Lawrence Weiner, Six Ten Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven into
Floor at Indicated Terminal Points, 1968 94
4.6 Lawrence Weiner, A 36 � x 36 � Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster
or Wallboard from a Wall, 1968, as installed in the exhibition “January 5–31, 1969” 99
5.1 Robert Barry, installation of paintings at Westerly Gallery, New York, 1964 104
5.2 Robert Barry, Untitled, 1967–1968 108
5.3 Robert Barry, Untitled, 1967 110
5.4 Robert Barry, Untitled, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–31 May 1968 112
5.5 Robert Barry, 88 mc Carrier Wave (FM), 1968; and 1600 kc Carrier Wave (AM),
1968, as installed in “January 5–31, 1969” 116
5.6 Robert Barry, Inert Gas Series: Helium, 1969 119
III.1 Vassilakis Takis removing Tele-Sculpture, 1965, from the exhibition “The Machine
as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age,” Museum of Modern Art,
New York, 3 January 1969 126
6.1 Advertisement in Artforum announcing the exhibition “Douglas Huebler:
November 1968,” 1968 132
6.2 Mel Bochner, Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily
Meant to Be Viewed as Art, as installed at the School of Visual Arts Gallery,
New York, 1966 134
6.3 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book” 137
6.4 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book” 138
6.5 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book” 139
6.6 Sol LeWitt, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book” 141
6.7 Lawrence Weiner, A Rectangular Removal from a Xeroxed Graph Sheet in Proportion
to the Overall Dimensions of the Sheet, 1968, from “The Xerox Book” 143
6.8 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968 144
6.9 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968 145
6.10 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968 146
7.1 Cover of July, August, September 1969, 1969 158
7.2 Pages from Prospect 69, 1969 162
7.3 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971 165
7.4 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971 166
7.5 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971 167
The research and writing phases of this project were facilitated by the generosity of the
Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, the University of Florida Scholarship
Enhancement Fund, the Graduate School at Northwestern University, and the National
Endowment for the Humanities.
My thanks go first of all to Michael Leja for his perspicacious advice when this
project began. He, as well as Whitney Davis, Hollis Clayson, and Nancy J. Troy, were partic-
ularly generous in giving me support and intellectual guidance when it was most needed.
I am also grateful to Eric de Bruyn, Margit Grieb, Serge Guilbaut, Anne Rorimer, Martha
Rosler, and Blake Stimson. Their responses to certain sections of the manuscript were
invaluable. Benjamin H. D. Buchloh in particular deserves special credit for his encourage-
ment and wise counsel throughout the research phase of this project.
Thanks are also due to Robert Barry, Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke,
Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Christine Kozlov, Ursula Meyer, Patricia Norvell, Brian
O’Doherty, Theresa Schwartz, and especially Seth Siegelaub and Lucy R. Lippard, for mak-
ing their archives available. Siegelaub, in particular, facilitated this project in many ways,
while taking special care to allow my own interpretations to emerge. All of the illustrations
in this book come from the Siegelaub Collection & Archives. For granting me interviews and
otherwise corresponding, I thank Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Terry Atkinson, Jo Baer, Robert
Barry, Iain Baxter, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Leo Castelli, Paula Cooper,
Eduardo Costa, Hanne Darboven, Raymond Dirks, Dan Flavin, Dan Graham, Manny Greer,
Hans Haacke, Charles Harrison, Jon Hendricks, Douglas Huebler, Donald Judd, Mary Kelly,
Joseph Kosuth, Christine Kozlov, Sol LeWitt, Lucy Lippard, Robert Morris, Barbara Novak,
Brian O'Doherty, Adrian Piper, Theresa Schwartz, Seth Siegelaub, Robert Topol, Jeff Wall,
John Weber, and Lawrence Weiner. Additionally, I owe a special debt of gratitude to Roger
Conover, who was never reticent about offering criticisms, advice, and editorial suggestions,
and to Matthew Abbate and the entire MIT Press staff for their expert and indefatigable
assistance throughout the preparation of this book. As for my friends Ron Clark, Caroline
Constant, Robert Haywood, James Meyer, and Lora Rempel, who read and reread drafts of
this text and made pertinent comments, I hope they already know of my deep apprecia-
tion. Above all, thanks go to Nora M. Alter, who has helped with the organization, precision,
and clarity of this text, and whose intellectual influence, incalculably diffusive, is on every
This page intentionally left blank
conceptual art and the politics of publicity
This page intentionally left blank
PART I the contradictions of conceptual art
The economic aspect of conceptual art is perhaps the most interesting. From the moment when
ownership of the work did not give its owner the great advantage of control of the work acquired,
this art was implicated in turning back on the question of the value of its private appropriation.
How can a collector possess an idea?
—Seth Siegelaub, 19731
The figure of the artist transformed dramatically during the 1960s. The fit-for-Hollywood fic-
tion of the tragic individual heroically converting raw matter into high art had already been
challenged during its ascendancy in the 1950s, and manifestly revised on a variety of levels
by the beginning of the following decade. But as the 1960s progressed, a new generation of
artists went considerably beyond undermining concepts of personal expression in art, in fa-
vor of a persistent experimentation with novel methods and materials coupled with an un-
precedented careerism. In the process, they increasingly resembled personnel in other
specialized professions in which success came to those who managed and publicized their
work most strategically.
That the ethos of the younger artists, many with advanced degrees and middle-
class aspirations, seemed to parallel developments in the world of business and the emer-
gent managerial class was recognized more and more. As Allan Kaprow declared in a 1964
essay, “If artists were in hell in 1946, now they are in business.” Leading increasingly expedi-
ent social lives, Kaprow continues, “artists today cannot leave their entire careers to chance,
because they will find that others, attending to their own careers, will close them out.”2 The
critic Barbara Rose expressed a similar sentiment the following year when she complained
that “among art students, one perceives a ‘make it’ mentality,” and in 1967 Alan Solomon
noted that “it has become ever more difficult to tell the artists from the collectors.”3 But it is
the corporate sponsor’s statement introducing the 1969 conceptual art exhibition “When At-
titudes Become Form” that best sums up the new overlap between business and the arts. The
president of Philip Morris Europe declared:
We at Philip Morris feel it is appropriate that we participate in bringing these works to the attention of
the public for there is a key element in this “new art” which has its counterpart in the business world.
That element is innovation—without which it would be impossible for progress to be made in any seg-
ment of society. Just as the artist endeavors to improve his interpretation and conceptions through in-
novation, the commercial entity strives to improve its end product or service through experimentation
with new methods and materials. Our constant search for a new and better way in which to perform
and produce is akin to the questionings of the artists whose works are represented here.4
Many in the multinational corporate world of the 1960s likewise imagined ambitious art not
as an enemy to be undermined or a threat to consumer culture, but as a symbolic ally. They
welcomed the new art because they perceived in it a counterpart to their own pursuit of new
products and markets.
This shift was not an isolated event. Rather it was paralleled by the new kind of so-
ciety that emerged in parts of the globe most affected by the force fields of multinational cap-
italism. Variously described as postindustrial, information, and consumer society, it was
marked, among other things, by novel modes of communication and distribution of infor-
mation, new types of consumption, an ever-more-rapid rhythm of fashion and style changes,
and the proliferation of advertising and the media to an unprecedented degree. Providing
services and manipulating information became the heart of this new economic paradigm,
which Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have appropriately termed informatization.5
The emergence of conceptual art is closely related to this new moment of advanced
capitalism. Indeed, conceptualism’s unusual formal features and mode of circulation in many
ways utilize and enact the deeper logic of informatization. This is nowhere more clearly evident
than in the innovative exhibition and distribution practices masterminded by the conceptual
art dealer and entrepreneur Seth Siegelaub (fig. I.1), referred to in the late 1960s as “the Kahn-
weiler of the latter part of the twentieth century.”6 Prior to his abrupt departure from the art
world in 1971, Siegelaub organized a large number of pivotal and highly in fluential conceptual
art exhibitions. In the process he played a central role in the transformation of art exhibition
and production practices in the late 1960s.7 An investigation of the emergence of conceptual
art through the lens of Siegelaub’s involvement with this art movement provides not only an
understanding of the shifting public persona of the artist and the full-scale incorporation of art,
but also a glimpse of the relationship that was established between the new economies of aes-
thetic value and the politicized cultural critique that erupted in the late 1960s.
s of concep
I.1Duane Michaels, Seth Siegelaub, 1969
Such a lens, however, while sharpening the focus, also necessarily limits the scope of
what initially constituted conceptual art in several significant regards. The first is geographical:
although one of the basic aims of conceptualism was precisely to decenter the “artworld,” this
study will have a New York bias, as this was not only the location from which Siegelaub prima-
rily operated in the 1960s but also “the center for artistic promotion, reviews, books, galleries,
et cetera.”8 The second concerns the issue of gender: all of the artists associated with Siegelaub
were male, which unfortunately gives the impression that female artists were not involved in
the early history of conceptualism. This is inaccurate: the significance of, among others, Rose-
marie Castoro, Hanne Darboven, Christine Kozlov, Lee Lozano, Adrian Piper, and Yvonne Rainer
in the early history of conceptual art should not be underestimated.9 But as Siegelaub did not
give them priority, the resulting picture appears to be somewhat of a “boys’ club.” The third limit
is related to the first: those treated in this study are all U.S. artists. Again, this should not di-
minish the relevant and important work of European, Latin American, Australian, Canadian, or
Asian conceptual artists in the late 1960s.10 Finally: temporally its scope will be limited to the
period when Siegelaub was actively involved in the art world, between 1964 and 1971. I shall
therefore discuss neither the important work of post-conceptual artists of the 1970s such as
Conrad Atkinson, Victor Burgin, Mary Kelly, John Knight, Barbara Kruger, and Martha Rosler, nor
the work of the many neo-conceptual artists of the 1980s and 1990s.
Standard accounts have tended to claim that conceptual art strove to negate the
commodity status of art but failed. Lucy Lippard, the foremost critic and defender of con-
ceptual art in the moment of its emergence, heralded this view as early as 1972, when she
lamented that the movement had rapidly capitulated to market forces and achieved com-
mercial success.11 Yet the idea that the political economy of conceptual art sought to elimi-
nate the commodity status of the art object, while highly provocative, is mythical. To be sure,
artists and dealers had to grapple with the problem of how a collector would be able to pur-
chase and possess a work during the early history of conceptualism, but there was never a
moment when they did not seek to market the art. As Siegelaub indicated in the early 1970s,
questions of how to transfer ownership and satisfy the collector’s desire to own an authen-
tic art object (even if there was no longer an art object in the conventional sense) soon be-
came passé, as ways were developed to transfer the “signature” of the artist, or “a certificate
of ownership” for the work, to the art patron.12
Along with establishing Siegelaub’s crucial role in the commercial packaging of
conceptual art, this book explores the relationship between the highly innovative exhibition
and distribution practices he developed in the late 1960s and the ongoing aesthetic dialogue
in the work of the artists associated with him during this period. The contradictory nature of
Siegelaub’s role has to be addressed in all its complexity. This account will consider his suc-
cess in organizing and promoting a group of young artists concerned more with overturning
the status quo in the art world and reaching a mass public than with questions of aesthet-
ics. This “explosion,” as Daniel Buren termed it in retrospect, facilitated by the radical trans-
formation of the aesthetic object, greatly benefited artists who sought to oppose the
established hierarchies and economies of value regulating the art world.13 Yet, at the very
moment that Siegelaub’s ingenious exhibition and distribution practices made art widely
available and generated modes of artistic consumption heretofore unknown, a much more
problematic aspect of his practice emerged. This feature was singled out by Siegelaub’s
longest associate in the art world, Lawrence Weiner, as early as 1971:
WS: Would you say something about Seth Siegelaub’s role . . . ?
LW: Well, he put the work together, and he instigated a complete narration that has become viable
within the culture, and accepted as an entity. He packaged disparate artists who had the same gen-
eral feeling towards the way of art. . . . He was the advertising agency, there was no art role in-
volved in that.
WS: But it can’t be denied that Seth had an awareness of something that was happening in the cul-
ture in advance of almost everyone else.
LW: Absolutely. Seth did a very good job. His packaging and his selling were done in a superb man-
ner. He also had very good material to work with. He did have the best dishwashing liquid
Reading the emergence of conceptual art through the perspective of Siegelaub’s
practices of exhibition and distribution thus provides a glimpse into the inherently contra-
dictory nature of this art movement—in which the egalitarian pursuit of publicness and the
emancipation from traditional forms of artistic value were as definitive as the fusion of the
artwork with advertising and display. The oscillation between these two developments is
the problem at hand, one that defines conceptual art as much as it does the cultural possi-
bilities of the present.
s of concep
As one of my favorite poets, Ezra Pound, once said, the beef stew cooking on the stove doesn’t
need any advertising. It has advertising. It has its aroma. You can smell the beef stew on the
stove. But the beef stew in the can has to be advertised. Somebody has to sell it to you. It can’t
—Carl Andre, 19681
We specialize in the development and organization of public relations programs involving the fine
arts. The art program is the medium through which you tell your story to the community. . . .
[It is] designed to give you maximum return on your public relations dollar.
—Seth Siegelaub and Jack Wendler, 19672
When Seth Siegelaub opened his gallery in New York in June 1964 he was only twenty-three
years old. The circumstances were favorable, as the 1960s were boom years in economic
terms and the future promised endless growth. This euphoria carried over into all areas of
art, advertising, sign value
speculation, including the art business. Art was being purchased at record rates, and a new
type of patronage was emerging that differed dramatically from that of the elite circles that
had previously dominated the art market in the United States.3 “In a short span of time,”
wrote one observer in 1966,
serious avant-garde collecting changed from a private depreciated “act” of commitment to untested
ideas into a conspicuous public activity that drew more and more eager recruits from the new
age of affluence. Advocacy and support of experimental art has now gained such a hold on the
American imagination that the normal lag between artistic invention and its public acceptance is
“Experimental” art had various attractions for the “eager recruits.” For one thing, it
now had investment value—a phenomenon that had long evaded the contemporary art mar-
ket. Whereas buyers of art as an investment in the first postwar years generally patronized
more traditional work, during the early 1960s speculation permeated every facet of the art
market, including contemporary art.5 Astute collectors and investors discovered that contem-
porary art, which could be purchased at bargain prices because of its newfangledness, had
enormous investment potential. Furthermore, the patronage of innovative art gave collecting
the same sense of adventure and risk-taking that existed in the world of business. The cumu-
lative effect of these trends, coupled with changes in tax laws, contributed to a booming mar-
ket for contemporary art that in turn inflated the exchange value of art and attracted an even
greater number of interested patrons. Financial journals made investment recommendations
for art, singling out the potential of the work of a number of artists and artistic movements,
and newspapers covered museum and gallery exhibitions more thoroughly in their social col-
umns. In 1963, a Life magazine article boldly announced that “more buyers than ever sail into
a broadening [art] market.” The article included reproductions of work by a number of young
artists, along with a price range for each.6 Two years later, a feature in Newsweek, “Vanity Fair:
The New York Art Scene,” focused on how the art world as an institution had become the cen-
ter of attention and the artist a supplier of commodities in an exchange of fashionable goods.7
But there was more to the growing market for ambitious new art during the early
1960s. As important as monetary value was the prestige this type of patronage could bring
the collector in the new phase of image-centered capitalism. As the contemporary art scene
became a subject of interest in the popular press, the media increasingly gave the purchasers
s of concep
g, sign valu
of experimental art some of the same attention they gave the artists.8 Articles often featured
tag lines such as “These pictures are like IBM stock, don’t forget that, and this is the time to
buy,” alongside photographs of hip-looking collectors in front of their accumulations of con-
temporary art.9 The new collectors clearly enjoyed the limelight, and when quoted, in true
American fashion, were anything but culturally pretentious. As one explained to the jour-
nalist of a 1965 Life magazine article: “I don’t even look at the pictures. I just know they’re
there—and that I have the best and biggest collection in the world.”10
Thus for the young, upwardly mobile art enthusiasts, many with college back-
grounds and some knowledge of art history, untried contemporary art was at once a poten-
tial investment, a means by which to differentiate themselves from their past, and a way of
distinguishing themselves from their more established, and for the most part aesthetically
conservative, peers. Experimental art was hip, and, because of its inherently tenuous char-
acter, the contemporary art world provided a space for the ambitious newly rich to locate
themselves on the way up the social ladder. Francis O’Connor comments on this phenome-
non in “Notes on Patronage: The 1960s,” written as the great wartime prosperity collapsed
and the art market ran out of steam in the recession of the early 1970s: “This new audience
was made up of young, mobile, affluent, highly trained technocrats, eager to enjoy the com-
forts of their class—one of which was art. Art magically combined characteristics irresistible
to these nouveau[x] riche[s]: it was prestigious to own and conspicuous to display, and vied
with the stock market in investment potential.”11
Unlike the connoisseurs of the past, many of whom had made of art collecting a dil-
ettantish avocation, the new collectors typically remained active in their workaday world,
with art a part of that world rather than a relief or escape from its values or pressures. Sup-
porting this outlook was the increased presence of “art” in corporate offices and buildings. In
practice this subtle shift, whereby art now proliferated in the workplace as well as in muse-
ums and private collections, meant a decreased emphasis on the opinions of established art
critics and scholars and an increased and more evident reliance on art galleries and dealers,
whose advice often emphasized the exchange value of works of art alongside their aesthetic
value. The impact of the new market patterns that this new group of collectors put into ef-
fect, together with the ecstatic coverage of the art scene in the mass media, combined to ef-
fect a near total reversal of the traditional processes by which artists were recognized.
Whereas erudite art critics previously played a significant role in establishing reputations, in
the 1960s new collectors of vanguard art began to purchase the work of artists prior to criti-
cal “legitimation,” increasing the artists’ recognition and fiscal opportunities. Here is how the
critic Harold Rosenberg put it at the time:
The texture of collaboration between dealers, collectors and exhibitors has become increasingly
dense to the point at which the artist is confronted by a solid wall of opinion and fashion forecasts
constructed, essentially, out of the data of the art market. . . . The presence of this potent profes-
sional establishment has radically affected the relation, once largely regulated by the taste of pa-
trons, of the artist to society and to his own product.12
As Rosenberg suggests, in this fundamental reconception of patronage the entre-
preneurial, innovative, and often historically naive art dealer replaced the highly specialized
art critic as the central conduit between artists and their audience. The critic, who had had
a continuing importance throughout the era of the New York School, was no longer the pri-
mary arbiter of artistic success. Despite the move away from elitism, what emerged was an
increased collusion among dealers, collectors, curators, and artists, where value was fixed
by “trendiness” and, ultimately, by “marketability.” The potential “power” of the collection in
determining an artwork’s value was also on the rise. As Siegelaub notes in a 1969 interview,
collectors often approached artists with “some line of horseshit about a very important col-
lection, they say, ‘Sell it to me very cheaply because you’ll be in my collection.’”13 Value, in this
new scheme, was determined by a “collection” and, by direct extension, by an ambitious col-
lector with little or no knowledge about art. Siegelaub declares in conversation with Charles
Harrison in 1969 that people are aware of art through printed media and conversation, or
through publicity and rumor—two venues that Siegelaub was to exploit during the mid-
1960s.14 “By 1965,” one observer put it a decade later,
it was almost immaterial who had written an article on an artist, where the article appeared, or how
complimentary it was. Since more and more collectors of vanguard art lived outside the art world,
they did not always read such abstruse journals as Artforum, at least not word for word. A photo-
graph used to illustrate an article on an artist often proved more effective in marketing his work than
the article itself. For the same reason, an article in Time, Life, or the New York Times was more
useful to a dealer than an article in one of the art journals. Ironically, articles which criticized an
artist’s work began to have the same effect as articles which praised it: both brought the artist to
the public’s often casual attention.15
s of concep
g, sign valu
This last comment resonates almost explicitly with the findings of Harrison and Cynthia
White’s 1965 study of the French art world.16 Interestingly, the writer’s point was not that pos-
itive criticism was now indistinguishable from negative, but that all such distinctions were
irrelevant in the burgeoning art marketplace of the 1960s. The passage directs attention to
the shift during this decade from serious intellectual critique and analysis to the crucial im-
portance of publicity. Within this atmosphere a new type of dealer emerged, one who had to
appeal to collectors but maintain a distance from them at the same time.
S E T H S I E G E L A U B C O N T E M P O R A R Y A R T
Located at 16 West 56th Street in New York, Siegelaub’s gallery—Seth Siegelaub Contempo-
rary Art—dealt not only in fine art but also in Oriental rugs, which were sometimes incor-
porated into shows.17 This coupling provided the dealer an appropriate setting to project the
image of the art collector as a highly cultured individual surrounded by refined objects. Ad-
ditionally, the combination of new art and old, “timeless” rugs inevitably suggested that this
particular “new” would also withstand time and become “priceless.” Siegelaub’s aggressive
promotion of his gallery is evident in the structure of his first exhibition (14 September–10
October 1964). He arranged paintings and sculptures by a number of artists throughout the
gallery space and placed couches and chairs on an exotic carpet in the center of the room.
The gallery visitor was encouraged to lounge in the seats and experience the show as an
The vanguard aspects of Siegelaub’s exhibition strategy were even clearer in the
gallery’s second show, scheduled in late December 1964, which featured a carnivalesque
“conscious[ness] expanding experience” by the artist Arni Hendin. This four-day “happening”
also encouraged audience participation through an unpredictable series of encounters.
“During the 22 thru 25 December,” wrote Siegelaub to the collectors Robert and Ethel Scull
on 18 November,
Arni Hendin will be creating an experience at my gallery called “an examination of Social Reac-
tion”—a simulated day in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Important People. As the name suggests there will
be an entire day constructed in the gallery: walls will be made, as will rooms, a subway car, office,
department store, party and private apartment. Mr. and Mrs. Important People will begin their day
in their simulated house and continue through their day to the simulated party. The other people in
the gallery will watch the I.P. go through their day and play parts in their day as servants, artists,
party-givers, friends, office help, etc. I expect coverage from two art magazines and one paper (so
far), and I plan to tie in with other media as we pick up steam.19
What is remarkable about the “experience” that Siegelaub describes is that it engages in a
sharp social critique of the potential collectors, or “I.P.,” exposing the banality of their routine
lives, while at the same time appealing to the very sources that legitimate such lives—the
mass media—to validate the exhibition. But what I want to single out in particular here is
that right from the beginning of his career Siegelaub places importance on cultivating, shap-
ing, and ensuring press coverage and publicity.20 Over the next several years, he will become
as attentive to the organization of image, artistic (and corporate) identity, and publicity
strategies as to the actual production of art exhibitions. His credo will be that, if marketed
correctly, almost any artwork, no matter how unconventional, could be sold.21
Siegelaub initially sought an identity for his gallery as a site of what were then var-
iously referred to as “action,” “happenings,” and “environments.” Fashioned into sensory ob-
stacle courses, these interiors might include not only the traditional media of painting and
sculpture but also, as Allan Kaprow (with whom the term “happenings” was primarily asso-
ciated at the time) suggested, “objects of every sort . . . , paint, chairs, food, electric and neon
lights, smoke, water, old socks, a dog, movies, [and] a thousand other things.”22 Kaprow’s
polemic against the immaculate, gallery-bound object, published in what was then the New
York School journal, Art News, was taken up in the years immediately following its publica-
tion by a whole range of artists who sought to reposition artistic practice within everyday life,
breaking down all traditional divisions not only between artistic genres and media, but also
between the actor and spectator, the stage and public space, aesthetic and secular objects.23
And Siegelaub was a participant in this trend, in his capacity as exhibition organizer and
As things turned out, however, the Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art gallery only
operated from 23 June 1964 to the end of April 1966. The increase in the number of collectors
in the 1960s was paralleled by increases in both the number of artists operating in the art
world and the number of galleries. According to one source, in New York City alone there
were nearly one thousand galleries during this period.24 With the proliferation of galleries
outpacing the rise in patronage, competition became more intense and Siegelaub could not
sell enough work to cover the gallery’s overhead.
s of concep
g, sign valu
But things were by no means over for him. Although he would never again become
affiliated with a particular gallery space, he organized a large number of pivotal and highly
influential exhibitions over the next six years. In the process he played an even more impor-
tant role in the enormous transformation in art exhibition and production practices that
took place during the late 1960s.
T H E N E W M A R K E T E E R S
When Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art closed in the spring of 1966, Siegelaub shifted
strategies. He took a two-room apartment at Madison Avenue and 82nd Street and began
dealing privately out of his suite. Conducting business in this way meant sparing the ex-
penses of maintaining a gallery. The practice of direct-mail advertising continued, though,
as did the strong promotion of an identified and select group of forward-looking artists—al-
though now a much smaller group.25
Siegelaub installed paintings and sculptures throughout his apartment and main-
tained an invitation-only policy. Through his past dealings he had cultivated various art en-
thusiasts and young businessman-collectors who found the association with artists and
others in this “salon-type” art world as appealing as collecting objects. Another site of busi-
ness for Siegelaub during this period was the Manhattan nightclub Max’s Kansas City on Park
Avenue South at 17th Street, where artists, critics, collectors, and visiting Hollywood celebri-
ties would mingle over drinks and food. Social capital, that network of contacts so important
to a successful career, could be gained there, night after night. Thus Siegelaub’s days would
be spent in his Madison Avenue apartment, tirelessly drafting promotional letters and tele-
phoning prospective patrons, and his evenings socializing and networking at Max’s Kansas
City and other accessible sites of art world activity. Every Sunday afternoon, Siegelaub would
host a soirée, or salon, at his apartment, to which he would invite a select group of collectors,
critics, and museum curators to mingle with the artists he represented. This tactful organi-
zation of an exclusive “inner circle” was the way Siegelaub now did business and showcased
his artists’ work.
But Siegelaub had more than a good eye and adept managerial skills; he also had
an extraordinary knack for promotion and publicity. For a succinct illustration of his entre-
preneurial strategy we have only to look at the agenda and promotion of Image. Art Programs
for Industry, Inc., a service company he incorporated with the wealthy collector and busi-
nessman Jack Wendler early in 1967. Image presented itself to the corporate world as “a pub-
lic relations specialist.” “We specialize in the development and organization of public rela-
tions programs involving the fine arts,” stated an Image promotional pamphlet targeted at
prospective corporate clients. “The art program is the medium through which you tell your
story to the community. . . . [It is] designed to give you maximum return on your public rela-
tions dollar.”26 No doubt Siegelaub and Wendler were right: art is capable of bestowing per-
sonality dimensions even on corporations. Also clear, though, is that by highlighting the
personal dimension—“your story”—Image establishes a differentiating system. And as a
range of distinguishing marks is keyed to one of personality traits, art comes to play the same
role as did formerly a field of distinct values.27
The infusion of corporate funds was a major element in the expansion of the art
market during the mid-1960s.28 Corporate ideology in that decade was a dynamic force, as the
business world undertook dramatic transformations both of the way it operated and the way
it imagined itself. In significant ways, corporate collectors made clear their preference for
contemporary art over more established work. Many in corporate practice, especially in pub-
lic relations departments, imagined new, innovative art as a symbolic ally in the pursuit of en-
trepreneurship, a partner in their own struggles to revitalize business and the consumer order
generally.29 Furthermore, contemporary trends and innovations in art offered the corporate
patron a progressive image in the business sphere and a public sign of commitment to fresh
ideas. A 1967 text that was clearly directed to corporate executives and shareholders stated:
There are . . . immediate and direct advantages for the corporate collector. . . . Management execu-
tives have come to recognize the many practical benefits in public relations terms—among them,
building goodwill and establishing a reputation for progressiveness. This reputation is vital to the
modern business institution. It influences consumer acceptance of its products; helps attract dy-
namic young talents to the executive roster; satisfies stockholder interest in its ability to compete;
and contributes significantly to heightened respect from all segments of society.30
Thus the corporate patron could share the creed of laissez-faire economists such as Milton
Friedman, who maintained that a corporation’s only responsibility was to produce profits,
and still justify support of the arts as “enlightened self-interest.”31
Siegelaub was evidently determined to mine this new and potentially enormous
source of corporate patronage. In a way that paralleled and fed off the deliberations of the
s of concep
g, sign valu
1965 Rockefeller Panel Report, and the growing pressure on business and industry to assume
a greater responsibility for the support, growth, and vitality of the country’s artistic life, his
strategy relied on dramatically emphasizing, and bluntly outlining, the legitimation of eco-
nomic and social power that art patronage could bring a corporation, regardless of the criti-
cal political character of the work.32 A case in point is a brochure he drafted in 1967 to
promote Image to prospective corporate clients. This tract, organized around a series of
rhetorical questions posed to the solicited corporation, complete with answers, specifies the
value of an artwork. “Fine Art? Why should we get involved with art?” The answer closely
echoes the calls for corporate patronage of the arts coming from quarters of business and
industry: “Because Fine Art is good business. The contemporary corporation has much to
gain from the identification with the positive virtues the Arts possess.” The advantages are
Specifically, an identification with the Arts will do the following: a. Improve the image of your com-
pany by making your public more aware of what you are doing in the community. b. Assist in de-
veloping a more fully rounded personality for your corporation by adding a Cultural dimension.
c. Provide a bold, unique and exciting element in the presentation of your products and services.
d. Promote greater public acceptance of your corporation and its products and services by making
yourself more attractive and visible in the marketplace.
Another question reads: “Is this the right time to get involved in an art program?” Most
As you are aware, the modern corporation is in the process of increasing its involvement in Amer-
ica’s Cultural life. Within a few years much of the excitement associated with the Arts will have
been exploited, and thus drained of its present Public Relations value. Now is the time to become in-
volved in the Arts and capitalize on the huge reservoir of interest, excitement and good-will.
It is hardly necessary to add that the suggestion that an association with art could
ultimately assist the corporate patron in “moving goods in the marketplace” is at the heart
of the message of this brochure.33 But Siegelaub’s strategy was more particularly to propose
that increased sales would follow from the type of image, prestige, and legitimacy that a cor-
porate patron would gain through collecting art. To paraphrase Pierre Bourdieu, by strategi-
cally accumulating “cultural capital,” corporations (with high amounts of economic capital
but relatively low amounts of cultural capital) could realign the relationship not merely of
the volume but also of the structure of the capital possessed. In turn, the socially con-
structed prestige value generated for the corporation through the growth of cultural capital
could do double duty. On the one hand, it could allow the corporation to attain a certain
distinction through signifying its benevolence, legitimacy, and pursuit of ideals beyond the
ordinary, instrumentalized world of business. On the other hand, in a relatively short
amount of time this same cultural capital could be “reconverted” into greater economic cap-
ital.34 Here we might recall Jean Baudrillard’s argument in “Sign Function and Class Logic”
that sign values are produced by a “sumptuary” operation connected to expenditure and so-
Thus objects, their syntax, and their rhetoric refer to social objectives and to a social logic. They
speak to us not so much of the user and of technical practices, as of social pretension and resigna-
tion, of social mobility and inertia, of acculturation and enculturation, of stratification and of social
classification. Through objects, each individual and each group searches out her/his place in an or-
der, all the while trying to jostle this order according to a personal trajectory.35
According to Baudrillard, in contemporary capitalist societies both the object form (use
value) and the commodity form (exchange value) are transfigured into sign value, trans-
formed into a sign pointing to the distinctness, vitality, and benevolence of the patron. With
the emergence of sign value comes a new interest in the psychological and characterologi-
cal traits of the agents—in this case artists—between the merchants and their consumers.
This leads to the development of new forms of perception, both physical and social—new
kinds of seeing, new types of behavior—and the creation of conditions in which altogether
different kinds of art forms are not only possible but desirable, and encouraged by their
Seen from this perspective, the structural model on which Siegelaub based his pro-
motion of art is remarkably similar to the operation of advertising—an industry that was on
the cutting edge of shifts in corporate practice in the 1960s. As Thomas Frank has shown,
seeking a single trait by which to characterize the accelerated obsolescence and enhanced
consumer friendliness to change that were the goals of business, the advertising industry in
the middle of the decade settled on “hipness.”36 As with advertising, the issue of novelty and
s of concep
g, sign valu
currency was crucially important to Siegelaub’s message. Recall that the Image brochure
warned that “within a few years much of the excitement associated with the Arts will have
been exploited, and thus drained of its present Public Relations value. Now is the time to be-
come involved in the Arts and capitalize on the huge reservoir of interest, excitement and
Siegelaub’s relocation of operations from 56th Street to Madison Avenue also sig-
naled a shift in emphasis. No longer the operator of an art gallery, his function was now
closer to that of an advertising executive. His point of view was increasingly calibrated to the
bottom-line interests of the corporation. As the Image brochure announced to the prospec-
tive corporate patron: “Image represents your interests. We do this by seeing the world of art
from your point-of-view.” Here, then, we have the development in art whereby entrepreneurs
such as Siegelaub and Wendler realize the disenchanting and ever-expedient tendencies of
capital. Their publicity program represents a pivotal stage in the development of an instru-
mentalizing tendency that will lead through twists and turns in subsequent years to achieve
the “total” organization and control of even the most innovative and politically progressive
elements of the 1960s art world. The ramifications of this turn will be vast. But this is not to
conflate the meanings and motives of individual action with the logic of the systemic. Siege-
laub and Wendler were conscious of their project, which was a completely rational one. Ulti-
mately, the publicity of art seemed far easier to manipulate than direct sales to art patrons
or segues into the established art world of museums. As for the systemic consequences, we
are of course free to suppose that they could not foresee them or, if they did, that they did
“ Y O U D O N ’ T N E E D A G A L L E R Y T O S H O W I D E A S ” 3 7
Savvy about publicity, Siegelaub was keenly aware of the importance of staging group exhi-
bitions as events and points of discussion. The identification of artists with a group and with
a specific dealer would enable the public to place them. Thus in early 1968 he organized two
shows featuring the work of three artists affiliated with him, Carl Andre, Robert Barry, and
Lawrence Weiner. The two exhibitions were not only highly publicized but also supple-
mented with well-documented public symposia featuring the artists. The first show opened
in February at the Laura Knott Gallery of Bradford Junior College in Bradford, Massachusetts,
and the second in April at Windham College, a small liberal arts institution in Putney, Ver-
Installation view, Laura Knott Gallery, Bradford Junior College, 4 February–2 March 1968:
1.1 Carl Andre, Untitled (144 Pieces of Zinc), 1968; Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1967; Robert
Barry, Untitled, 1967
mont.38 Not coincidentally, both venues were removed from New York City, then indisputably
the epicenter of the art world.
In contrast to the completely controlled, almost ideal interior space of the Laura
Knott Gallery exhibition (fig. 1.1), Windham College did not have a gallery, and Siegelaub sug-
gested that the artists produce temporary, outdoor, site-specific sculptural installations on
the college campus. The installations, made entirely with materials indigenous to the area,
would only function within the specific campus sites, and for the duration of the exhibition.
As Siegelaub envisioned it, this show would break, or displace, the traditional institutional
framework of a work of art. In an unpublished essay entitled “The Enclosure” that he wrote
immediately following the Windham College show, Siegelaub stated:
The contention that the framing convention of a work of art was implicit was accepted a priori by
the majority of painting and sculpture of the late 50s and early 60s. Painting became involved in the
role of the art as object ignoring, in this acceptance of logical art history progression, the implica-
tion of the object and its relation to its physical context (walls, floors, ceilings, and the room itself ).
Sculpture revealing its intrinsic objecthood, not burdened by the problems of illusionism, seemed
to accept its delimiting or placement as implicit or become architectural (environmental) hence
Thus Siegelaub traces the development from a type of late modernist art that un-
problematically accepts the traditional framing conventions, to works that take into consid-
eration the room in which they are placed and works (necessarily sculptural) that integrate
with the broader environment and become architectural. In an obvious sense, this notion is
related to the development from painting to sculpture or “three dimensional objects” that
Donald Judd articulated in his 1965 manifesto “Specific Objects,” and to Robert Morris’s con-
temporary account of minimalist sculpture as contingent with its environment in his 1966
“Notes on Sculpture.”40 But Siegelaub’s observations also relate the sculptural installations
exhibited at Windham College to the emerging phenomenon of land art, begun in the previ-
ous year with the projects of Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, and Dennis Oppenheim,
By mid-1968, the Windham College show was identified as a linchpin in the slow
but steady move away from institutions that developed into an integral element in the re-
flection and production of postminimal sculpture of the late 1960s. An art critic signing his
1.2 Robert Barry, Dan Graham, Lawrence Weiner, and Carl Andre at the Windham College
symposium, 30 April 1968
name Arthur R. Rose categorically asserted this aspect of the exhibition in an unpublished
essay written in the spring of 1968 entitled “Three since Windham.” “In a season of many
earth shows,” Rose writes, the “Windham [College] show is important because it was the first
Siegelaub organized a symposium with the three artists to coincide with the open-
ing of the Windham College show. Rather than moderating the symposium himself, as he
had done in Bradford a few months earlier, Siegelaub hired Dan Graham (fig. 1.2).42 An aspir-
ing artist and cultural critic, Graham had briefly operated the John Daniels Gallery in New
York City between 1964 and 1965, during which time he befriended Andre and Weiner; they,
in turn, introduced Graham to Siegelaub as early as 1966. Influenced by pop’s fascination
with the disposable mass culture of commercial magazines and rock music, Graham was
crucial in articulating and defining the course of the new site- and context-specific work that
subsequently came to be called “conceptual art.”
In his introductory comments, Graham noted the ephemeral nature of the exhibi-
tion installations, and emphasized that the artworks did not operate as definitive objects
with inherent qualities but, after fulfilling their purpose during the exhibition, would be re-
cycled and disappear. He also summoned the notion of “place.” “The show is done for a spe-
cific place,” Graham announced, “and involves placing as a verb as well as a noun.”43
Importantly, this conceptualization of the artistic process in a linguistic metaphor would be
repeated with increased frequency during the late 1960s and 1970s; it would characterize not
only the work of the artists Siegelaub represented in these years, but also his own publicity
Graham’s observations about the artwork’s relation to place were primarily focused
on Andre’s work, though they may be just as appropriately applied to that of the other artists
at the symposium.44 Andre’s sculpture Joint did not have a cohesiveness capable of tran-
scending the local or temporal specificity of its initial site of display (fig. 1.3). The work was
made of a row of one hundred and eighty-three nearly identical modules (approximately
4 x 4 x 6 feet) of uncovered common baled hay set up one next to the other. The modules of
hay were arranged in serial formation in a horizontal line, with the parallel narrow sides
flush but distinct. The bales were similar, but differed slightly due to the procedures by
which hay is compacted. Andre’s arrangement of these rough-hewn modules emphasized
both their uniqueness and their similarity to others in the line. Thus apart from their linear
arrangement, length, and placement, the materials dictated the form of the work.45
1.3Carl Andre, Joint, 1968, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–31 May 1968
It is also important to recognize that in Andre’s Joint, each unit of hay, like each unit
of zinc in the sculptural grid of metal plates he exhibited at the Laura Knott Gallery, re-
mained in its raw state: “I don’t want to disguise the material employed at all,” he stated at
the symposium, “I don’t want to make something else out of it. I want wood as wood and steel
as steel, aluminum as aluminum, a bale of hay as a bale of hay.”46 Like others, Andre believed
that his refusal to transform the material elements of the work problematized the role of the
artist as it was conventionally understood: that of a catalyst in the transformation of raw
matter into artistic form. In an insightful account of current artistic developments published
the month following the Windham College exhibit, Graham noted this aspect of Andre’s art
Andre translates material base into base measure of values, literally inverting normative value
terms for material ones. Bricks, bales of hay, slabs of slate, aluminum or zinc are worth exactly what
their market value (defined by scarcity of supply and demand) brings. Their sale as art adds com-
mission price to gallery and artist (also determined by market laws). The commodity is produce, not
produced by the artist’s handiwork. It possesses actual, physically definable qualities as opposed to
abstract, imagined or critically defined qualities. Instead of projecting past artists’ or the artist’s
past experiences for the viewer’s emotional investment, Andre’s sculpture is placed in a present sit-
uation of confrontation open to the viewer’s here and now experience. No permanently worthwhile
experience is implied, the “value” of an Andre (or Flavin or Warhol or Christo) being temporally con-
tingent on its present context.47
There are several notions implied in this passage that deserve to be highlighted. For
one thing, it characterizes Andre’s role not as an artist but as an art worker. Just as the ex-
change value of his works remains linked to the market value of the materials of which they
are made, the remuneration of the artist’s labor is in the form of a sale also determined by
laws of supply and demand. Seen in this light, the role of the artist is brought down to earth,
desacralized, and the ascribing of worth to art objects is attributed to forces separate from
the artist. Artworks are now conceived of as possessing their own proper value, which is sep-
arate from what the artist charges “as commission” for his own labor. Secondly and relatedly,
Graham considers the commodity status of a work of art and interprets Andre’s sculpture as
resistant to commodification. This is the first public discussion of this sort in the New York
art world of the late 1960s, though the theme will proliferate in the following years. Then
there is the homology Graham draws between Andre’s works and pop art, articulating the
“value” of one of Andre’s works as similar to that of the work of Flavin, Warhol, or Christo—
all of whom Graham considered to be pop artists at the time. Certainly, the structural repe-
tition of the store-bought, ready-made, modular units parallels the emphasis on serial
objects and conditions in Flavin’s or Warhol’s work. And, as in the mid-1960s work of these
two artists, Andre’s abandonment of manual production in favor of a modular structure with
its own transparent system of units negates processes of authentication, rendering impos-
sible any attempt to identify or verify the work’s producer. Furthermore, employing an ele-
ment from the general environment of rural Vermont—a bale of hay—as the primary
material, Andre’s Joint echoes pop art’s erasure of the boundaries between common experi-
ence and high art. In the process, Andre brought one of the most repressed forms of every-
day experience at Windham College, the surrounding fields on which the community
depends economically, dead center into the cultural reflection.48
Yet, as Graham implies, Andre’s work goes beyond the operation of pop and mini-
mal models in several ways.49 On the one hand, the environment in which the work is to be
exhibited determines the choice of material; on the other hand, the work’s surfaces are con-
tinually altered by their own history, by the events that occur to them, up to the point of oblit-
eration. Since Joint was exposed to the natural elements, the weathering process would in
time erode the modules of hay and the work would gradually disintegrate, literally fusing
with the place. This aspect of Andre’s work, its impermanence, relates to its subversion of the
marketplace for art. “The hay, of course, as people walk on it, is going to break down and
gradually disappear,” Andre noted at the Windham College symposium. “But since I’m not
making a piece of sculpture for sale, . . . it never enters the property state.”50 This comment
elides not only the fact that this work is an anomaly in the context of Andre’s production (the
vast majority of which is for sale), but also that it breaks with the practice by which Andre’s
other works were sold. For Andre and Flavin had pioneered a new form of guaranteeing au-
thorship of works of art by providing the patrons certificates of authenticity along with the
material objects. The certificate, signed by the artist, delineates in legalistic language (often
complemented by a schematic drawing on standard graph paper) the various components of
the work.51 Given the general accessibility of the materials and Andre’s deskilling of the pro-
cedures of production, it is primarily the certificate that authenticates his work.52
What Andre’s work of the 1960s signals—like that of Barry and Weiner—is the grad-
ual dismantling of the integrated self-contained pictorial object or sculptural structure
s of concep
g, sign valu
made for gallery display, in favor of interactive spectatorial spaces, complicated participa-
tory modes, and an increasing awareness of the specific interplay between the artwork and
the architectural and ultimately institutional setting or framework. One of the most compli-
cated results of such transformations is the way they problematize the concept of public
space. Once spectatorial participation as theorized by these and other artists is integrated
into the conceptual structure of the work, the question of the proper site for artistic experi-
ence inevitably becomes more pressing. As the architectural setting is recognized in terms
of the institutional and discursive limitations that it imposes upon sculptural or painterly ex-
perience, the next logical step will inevitably be considered: abandoning the institution of
the gallery or museum with all of its restrictions in favor of a supposedly uninhibited, unre-
stricted, open, external space where none of these limitations apply. This development in the
direction of a gradual expansion of the sites and locations for artistic exhibition and distri-
bution became an integral aspect of the reflection upon and the production of ambitious art
during the late 1960s. However, it was Siegelaub, rather than the artists, who most thor-
oughly explored the specific operation of the institutional and contextual parameters that
cordon off the work of art.
Siegelaub’s engagement with those boundaries, for reasons that differed from
those of the artists, is consistent with the new practices of marketing that he was trying to
develop. This transformation was as far-reaching in its own way as the changes in art pro-
duction then taking place, and it shared with the new art a common hostility toward hierar-
chy, established conventions, and inherent wisdom. Significantly, creativity and perpetual
innovation had by the mid-1960s also become the ethos of ambitious business practice, as
well as of its stalwart promoter, advertising. The ideologues of Madison Avenue now pro-
claimed, contrary to the standard practices of the previous decade, that the “chic-adman”
must internalize an automatic mistrust for received ideas.53 Here, as in so many aspects of
1960s culture, advertising practices spilled over unproblematically into the actual content of
art and art promotion. This willingness to defy convention was not only customary for
artists; it became increasingly prevalent among—and in many ways absolutely necessary
to—dealers as well. For Siegelaub, this meant an embrace not only of creativity but also of
the unexpected. In the following years this became more than a strategy for him; it became
a philosophy, a way of thinking, and it was a concept he chose to utilize in promoting the
artists he represented.
This page intentionally left blank
Young artists of today need no longer say, “I am a painter,” or “a poet” or a “dancer.” They are
—Allan Kaprow, 19671
Being an artist today now means to question the nature of art. If one is questioning the nature
of painting, one cannot be questioning the nature of art; if an artist accepts painting (or sculp-
ture) he is accepting the tradition that goes with it.
—Joseph Kosuth, 19692
Arthur R. Rose, the critic Siegelaub persuaded to write a review of the Windham College
show, was actually the pseudonym of a young artist from Ohio, Joseph Kosuth. Extraordi-
narily alert to the art scene, Kosuth was a skillful advocate of his own work who acutely un-
derstood the value of public relations and self-promotion. Accordingly, he was often found
at the “right” places, promoting his career and cultivating “social capital,” defined by Bour-
art as idea
dieu as “a capital of social connections . . . that is often necessary in winning and keeping the
confidence of high society, and with it a clientele,” and that may be drawn on to make an
artistic career.3 Arriving in New York City at the age of twenty in 1965, Kosuth enrolled in the
School of Visual Arts and in the following years proceeded to organize a lecture series, open
a gallery, curate shows, launch a student newspaper, and function as a staff writer for Arts
Magazine.4 By 1968 he was on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts, and had garnered the
attention not only of leading art critics and collectors but of mass circulation magazines
such as Time and Newsweek.5 Always networking, he had seemingly endless energy, embody-
ing the type of the new artist advanced by Newsweek in the middle of 1968: “Today’s young
artist is a professional rather than a ‘Bohemian’.”6
Kosuth cultivated his public image as much as he did his art. He had picked up
some of Andy Warhol’s showmanship. Dressed in gangsterlike, double-breasted suits from
the 1930s, sporting dyed blonde or black hair depending on the season, and relaying incred-
ible stories about his past, Kosuth had developed a whole set of extraordinary mannerisms.
But his links to the pop artists were more than stylistic posturing. He fostered various so-
cial connections to the scene around Warhol, which often coalesced in the back room of
the Max’s Kansas City nightclub. Furthermore, Roy Lichtenstein had purchased some of his
work, while Warhol and Claes Oldenburg had been supportive critically and, occasionally,
Like the pop artists, and Warhol in particular, Kosuth evidently understood the
value of organizing the mass media’s attention in his favor. In 1966–1967 he coordinated a
well-publicized lecture series at the School of Visual Arts, for which he invited artists such
as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Smithson, Sol LeWitt, and Dan Graham,
whom Kosuth had met at parties or local hangouts, to publicly present their ideas and work.
Similarly, in early 1968 he launched and became chief editor of Straight, an arts newsletter
published by the School of Visual Arts.8 At this time Kosuth also opened an art gallery in New
York’s East Village, the Lannis Gallery, together with the young artist Christine Kozlov, whom
he had met at the School, and Lannis Spencer.9 For an upstart gallery with no budget to speak
of, the Lannis garnered a surprising amount of media attention, a phenomenon clearly at-
tributable to Kosuth’s masterful organizational and promotional abilities.10 Almost without
exception, evenings would find Kosuth at Max’s Kansas City socializing, talking up his vari-
ous projects and gallery. “Art is no longer a trade to be patiently mastered,” announced
Newsweek in a overview of the “way, way out” new art, “it is a matter of doing what no one has
s of concep
art as idea
done before.”11 Kosuth—the twenty-two-year-old artist, critic, instructor, and gallery opera-
tor—was indeed doing what no one had ever done before. And he made sure to let everyone
he met know it.
Whereas Kosuth cultivated a very gregarious and dynamic self-image, his art was
remarkably muted. In the spring of 1967, he and Kozlov fixed upon the idea of opening the
Lannis Gallery with a series of “Non-Anthropomorphic” exhibitions, featuring primarily
their own work and that of two of their fellow students at the School of Visual Arts. “I pass by
the new Lannis Gallery daily,” wrote the critic Gordon Brown in a review of the first “Non-
and have often noticed its aloofness, even when seen from the outside. The large street-level win-
dow is completely covered with steel plates whereas the average village gallery would use it for rau-
cous romantic display. . . . The objects displayed are so “other” that there is no need to put up a
“Don’t touch” sign. No one would dream of contaminating the purity of this art by leaving behind
his personal finger-print.12
As is implicit in Brown’s comments, the “purity” of these works lay in their matter-of-
factness. For his part Kosuth linked the austere “purity” of his new, post-painterly work to his
understanding of the ethos of the nouveau roman as theorized by Alain Robbe-Grillet: “The
last thing I personally want to do is art as philosophy. . . . The old cliché by now of Robbe-
Grillet’s that ‘the world is no longer meaningful nor absurd, it simply is,’ is pretty much where
This insistence on prosaicness, on a thing simply being, is consistent with the re-
treat into an antihumanist world of nonmetaphorical operations that characterized the work
of the artists showing in the first “Non-Anthropomorphic” exhibition—an idea Kosuth and
Kozlov articulated in their small catalogue supplementing the show: “The four artists
included in this exhibition have one desire (if none other) in common: to exclude a projec-
tion of either themselves or the image, attributes, or qualities of man into their works of
art.”14 Given this view, it is not surprising that the works on display were extraordinarily her-
metic, “concerned . . . with their own intrinsic logic,” as Kozlov put it in the exhibition cata-
logue.15 Produced by artists who denied the possibility of art objects possessing any
metaphorical function, the works manifested a complete lack of interest in the notion that
art could communicate expression or transcendental experience. Furthermore, they re-
jected outright the primacy of individual subjectivity as the locus of art production. A case
in point is the art practice of Kozlov. At the time, she was engrossed in the production of a
painting that entailed the daily application of a layer of flat white acrylic paint across the
entire surface of the canvas. This operating method, which persisted for several months,
allowed Kozlov to continue to work in the medium of painting without having to make
aesthetic decisions. Rather than the artist employing an expressive ritual to produce the
artwork, the object was purely and self-reflexively about the systematic process of its
Kosuth, like Kozlov, had also been a fairly eclectic painter, producing easel-size
canvases (approximately 5 x 5 feet) described by one observer at the School of Visual Arts in
the mid-1960s as “distantly related to the de Stijl philosophy.”17 In late 1967, however, he
abandoned the specific medium of painting altogether in favor of the generic category of Art.
As he declared a short time later,
The word art is general and the word painting is specific. Painting is a kind of art. If you make
paintings you are already accepting (not questioning) the nature of art. One is then accepting the
nature of art to be the European tradition of a painting-sculpture dichotomy. But in recent years
the best new work has been neither painting nor sculpture, and increasing numbers of young art-
ists make art that is neither one. When words lose their meaning they are meaningless. We have
our own time and our own reality and it need not be justified by being hooked into European art
In its renunciation of the labor of the “painter” and the “sculptor,” Kosuth’s statement res-
onates strongly with Kaprow’s earlier observation that serves as the first epigraph to this
chapter. Even more striking is the extent to which this passage also draws on the reasoning
of Donald Judd. For along with almost a direct quote from the latter’s “Specific Objects,” 1965,
the passage echoes Judd’s U.S. parochialism and antagonism to “the European tradition.”19 Af-
ter all, Kosuth’s argument that “we have our own time and our own reality” is clearly a tri-
umphant summoning of contemporary America.
According to Kosuth, by the late 1960s it had become necessary to work in media
other than the inherently tainted, corrupted ones of the old masters. An early example of his
new post-painterly work is the black and white photographic blowup of a dictionary entry for
the word “water” that Kosuth exhibited in the opening show of the Museum of Normal Art,
s of concep
art as idea
formerly known as the Lannis Gallery, in November 1967 (fig. 2.1).20 The austere, matter-of-
fact photostat, with black ground and white lettering, was part of a series in dialogue with
several pictorial paradigms then current in New York. On the one hand, Kosuth’s large (4 x 4
feet) photostats were systematic transfigurations of Reinhardt’s five-foot black square, dis-
placing the iconographic residue (i.e., the gridded cruciform) and in its place introducing
something alien to the late modernist tradition of painting, namely the specific operation of
language. At the same time, Kosuth’s use of a definition from a dictionary in white lettering
antithetically completes the white-black austerity of On Kawara’s “date paintings,” featuring
the dates stenciled in white paint onto black monochrome canvases. Retaining the terms of
Kawara’s pictures—the directness, the color scheme, the incorporation of writing into the
field of painting—Kosuth takes them to a further extreme where the stenciled dates give way
to formalized linguistic information. Of course, the employment of dictionary definitions,
which are only formal definitions of words and their functions, implies that the content of
this information is utterly irrelevant.21
But along with the rather peculiar dialogue with the paintings of Reinhardt and
Kawara, there are also evident relations between Kosuth’s photostats of standard dictionary
definitions, what he later called his First Investigations, and the work of both Marcel Duchamp
and the U.S. pop artists. For one thing, in the rigorous restriction of pictorial decision-making
to the preexisting dictionary entry, blown up and inserted into the context of art, the First
Investigations connect in their own way with the Duchampian legacy of the readymade. More-
over, the First Investigations were not paintings but photostats, and thus more akin to con-
temporary advertising images than to the tradition of high art. From this vantage point the
photostats continue a reading of pop art that sees such works as internalizing within their
field the mass culture that they represent.22 As with pop, Kosuth’s early photostats question
the status of the aesthetic object by scrambling the codes and erasing the boundaries con-
ventionally drawn between high art, with its emphasis on singularity and nonutilitarian
objects, and mass culture.
But of all the pop artists, it was Warhol who resonated most profoundly in Kosuth’s
artistic project. In the late 1960s, the young artist took up many of the characteristics of
Warhol’s practice that had been found shocking and scandalous earlier in the decade—e.g.,
the employment of mechanical production and seriality, the application of the concept of
anonymity in aesthetic execution, the fusion of mass and high cultural realms. Just as
Warhol, and in a parallel development most of the minimalists, would vaunt a factory aes-
2.1 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1967
thetic—eschewing personal contact with the work of art altogether in favor of employing
studio assistants or industrial manufacturers, who would run off the silkscreens or follow
exacting specifications concerning materials, colors, scale, and surfaces in which the art ob-
ject would be produced—Kosuth often emphasized the anonymity of execution and the me-
chanical production of his photostatic works.23
A particularly revealing instance of Kosuth’s dialogue with Warhol was the former’s
first one-person exhibition, which opened at Eugenia Butler’s Gallery 669 in Los Angeles in
October 1968 (fig. 2.2). Recalling Warhol’s mid-1962 installation at the Ferus Gallery in Los
Angeles of a series of thirty-two painted representations of Campbell’s Soup cans (where the
paintings were distinguished only by the particular flavor of soup), all of the photostats
Kosuth exhibited presented dictionary definitions of the same word, “nothing,” though the
source of the definition, the actual dictionary used, differed for each. Given his fascination
with Warhol’s art practice, it comes as little surprise that in 1968 Kosuth used the format of
his First Investigations to offer a sort of tribute to Warhol. Rather than a dictionary definition,
the copy in one central column across the negative photostat read: “In the future everyone
will be famous for 15 minutes.” It was characteristics such as these that prompted Village
Voice art critic John Perreault to joke that “if Ad Reinhardt married Andy Warhol” the result
would be Joseph Kosuth.24 This “marriage” is a complete contradiction, of course, since no-
body would have been more unacceptable to Reinhardt, who insisted on a total separation of
aesthetic objects from the contaminating effects of mass culture. Kosuth, one might say, di-
alectically integrated Reinhardt’s austere black monochrome paintings and Warhol’s explic-
itly commercial images, two artistic models that were polar opposites.
Yet Kosuth cannily concealed the pop art dimensions of his work. As the 1960s pro-
gressed, pop was increasingly seen as heedlessly ironic and frivolous. The way it blurred the
line between aesthetic and commodity objects, combined with its enormous success in the
marketplace, also made it suspect. Pop’s facility and mass appeal contrasted sharply with
the strategic obscureness and opaqueness of advanced art. But perhaps the most important
reason for a young, ambitious artist not to associate with pop art in the late 1960s was its lost
currency—as Newsweek reported in 1968, “that scene [pop art] wore itself out.”25
There are significant differences, however, between the work of Kosuth and that of
the pop artists. Unlike the way pop used appropriated imagery, Kosuth made the dictionary
definition in the manner of an architectural blueprint—a schema rather than an actual
thing. Moreover, Kosuth did not place the photo motif on canvas like the pop artists. Rather
2.2 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1968, as installed at Gallery 669,
Los Angeles, October 1968
he removed the work a step further from the tradition and authority of painting in the di-
rection of mechanical reproduction.
In this respect, Kosuth’s work clearly draws upon that counterformation to pop art
that was also a parallel formation in the mid-1960s: minimalism. An affinity with minimal
art was considered meritorious by many in the mid to late 1960s art world. Minimal art, with
its preference for prosaic, everyday materials and its emphasis on anonymity, repetition, and
equality of parts, was thought to possess a sense of rigor and seriousness of purpose, as well
as an inherent noncommerciality, that gave it an edge of social criticism.26
Judd in particular was important to Kosuth for a number of reasons. He provided a
model of the artist as writer-philosopher, producing work that proposed theories and tested
hypotheses. In many ways, Judd continued the legacy of advanced art criticism previously lo-
cated in the writings of late modernist critics such as Clement Greenberg, a genealogy that
Kosuth connected with in his own way.27 Judd also gave license to another way of thinking
about advanced art. Contrary to pop art’s theoretical models of design and of the readymade,
he advocated a type of art that was abstract, rigorous, and ostensibly free of meaning. Ac-
cording to Kosuth, however, Judd did not follow through with what he started. In spite of his
critique of precious painting and sculpture, Judd continued to use materials inherently
loaded with meaning. In addition, although Judd proposed that the discovery of a form that
was neither geometric nor organic would be a genuine breakthrough, he did not carry this
dictum to its logical conclusion: the complete elimination of formal issues and materials,
and an increased focus on context. This, Kosuth later argued, was what separated Judd’s the-
ory of art from that articulated by Marcel Duchamp earlier in the century.28
Equally important for Kosuth was the work of Andre and Flavin. Indeed, one of the
groundbreaking developments in 1960s art practice was the separation effected by these
artists of the artistic proposition (in the form of drawings or specific instructions about what
materials to use for an artwork and how to assemble them) from the aesthetic experience of
the viewer. Kosuth saw that one of the implications of minimalist installations was the idea
that a work could remain in its state as a proposition, document, or set of instructions to be
(re)made when the need arose. Commenting on obvious associations between his work and
that of his precursors, Kosuth emphasized the separation of abstract proposition from phys-
ical materialization in the work of Flavin and Andre:
There are aspects to work which preceded mine—people like Andre and Flavin—which have a bear-
ing on the kinds of discussion about art which I’ve tried to help generate. . . . Issues of function hav-
ing to do with meaning being contingent on use are particularly relevant to someone like Flavin. The
value of his work is the power of his art as an idea—I don’t think one can seriously argue that it is
due to craft, composition, or the aura of the traces of his hand. Anybody can have a “Flavin” by go-
ing into a hardware store, but you needed Flavin’s initial “proposal” for it to be art.29
But according to Kosuth neither Andre nor Flavin, nor for that matter anyone associated with
minimalism, carried to its logical conclusion the minimalist implication that the primary
material of an artist’s work is ideational and distinct from the materials of which the work is
This last point bears elaborating since it directly relates to the respective practices
of Kosuth and Siegelaub, and can best be understood by comparing Kosuth’s claims about
his own work with the theoretical underpinnings of Sol LeWitt’s work of roughly the same
period. LeWitt’s main corpus in the mid to late 1960s consisted of repeated series of equal in-
dividual units contained within an overall grid (figs. 2.3–2.5). As opposed to Judd’s one-after-
the-other repetitions, or the structures of serial imagery common to Warhol’s mid-1960s
silkscreens, the serial method adopted by LeWitt involves a matrix principle of relationships
established in advance before the permutation is set. All of the operations within the com-
position are then mechanically subjected to that principle.30 The viewer’s access to any single
element of the work depends upon grasping the complex sequences and permutations of its
other parts; the experience resembles handling a language more than surrendering to im-
mediate, phenomenal sensations. As early as 1967 LeWitt referred to this kind of art, in
which a governing set of decisions are made and then the variable combinations are carried
out “blindly,” as “conceptual art”:
In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. . . . In other forms of
art the concept may be changed in the process of execution. . . . When an artist uses a conceptual
form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution
is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.31
If Kosuth’s point of departure was “the separation of the art from its form of presentation,”
the key issue for LeWitt was to try to find a way in which one could make art that was not
s of concep
art as idea
2.3 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set A), 1966
2.4 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set B), 1966
2.5 Sol LeWitt, Serial Project No. 1 (Set C), 1966
subjective.32 Accordingly, LeWitt contrived a method of production that, insofar as it con-
sisted of systematically following a “predetermined premise to its conclusion,” a literal point-
ing toward what is just ahead in the scheme (and what has just been made), decentered the
agent.33 One of the central implications of this mechanical, nonrational method of produc-
tion was that idealist commitments and subjective trace no longer had a function in the art
world. LeWitt tracked all “the intervening steps” in the conception and realization of the art-
work, an interconnected element in a string of signifiers one after the other, but never tried
to decode the signifiers by relating them to signifieds. His method of artistic production thus
negated the “I,” the centered intentional agency that is the source and guarantee of artistic
meaning, by adopting an external program—“a predetermined concept,” or “idea”—which at
once acts as a coordinating agency for the realization of the work and “eliminates the arbi-
trary, capricious, and the subjective as much as possible.”34
This new regime of absolute literality and materiality resulted in highly reflexive
artworks. Void of inherent mystery, sense, or subject matter to be deciphered or interpreted,
these works had as their content their own self-relational, a priori logic, and their formal
organization systematically developed in a predetermined order over a specific amount of
time. “Serial compositions,” wrote LeWitt in 1966, “are multipart pieces with regulated
changes. The differences between the parts are the subject of the composition.”35 In this way,
LeWitt’s literalness surpassed even that of meticulously prosaic minimalists like Judd, by
dropping minimalism’s stress on the final product and replacing it with an emphasis on the
process of the artwork’s production, on what, following Roland Barthes, we could call the
“textual” process.36 The implication was that the procedure of making—not just the process
of realization, but also the process of conception itself (precisely because conception takes
place over time)—is the most literal and material aspect of an artwork. To view the work was
to respond to the activity of the text, to systematically track its construction over time.
Most simply put, LeWitt’s aesthetic theory proposed a nonrationalist mode of pro-
duction. The work followed a mechanical, impersonal, quasi-mathematical serial sequence
that, once established, evacuated the notion of unique artistic subjectivity. Thus the artist
was no longer privileged, paternal, the organizational source and master of the work. The
process of production was, in a word, “irrational”:
This kind of art that I’m doing, I don’t think of it as being rational at all. Rather, I think of it as be-
ing more irrational. The kind of formalist art where the artist decides and makes decisions all the
way down the line, that’s a very rational way of thinking about art. But I don’t think mine is at
all. . . . What I’m doing is much more complex. And it’s much more irrational.37
With the negation of artistic expression it no longer made sense for the viewer to attempt to
decipher traces of subjectivity in the act of artistic creation, nor to pretend to penetrate the
work, moving from surface to depth.38
Kosuth’s starting point was also an a priori idea. But according to him the great lim-
itation of the structural procedural operations of the work of LeWitt and his minimalist con-
temporaries was that by insisting that their work be built they allowed it to be framed by the
legacy of sculpture and painting. As he described it in a 1968 letter to the critic Lucy Lippard:
“Anybody who looks at Judd’s, Sol LeWitt’s, Smithson’s, Andre’s, Morris’s, Flavin’s work and
doesn’t realize that the quality of their thinking is what was once considered a painter’s
misses an interesting aspect of their work.”39 In opposition to this, Kosuth maintained that
his work was broadly concerned with the general “concept” of Art—with “what the work is
The relevance of the actual material production of the work was simply to com-
municate the underlying, essentially abstract idea. In this spirit he proposed what was basi-
cally a new ontological task for the modernist artist: to produce artworks that function as
absolutely stable and contextless tautological structures. As Kosuth tersely explained to the
art critic John Chandler in a 1968 discussion, “The art is the idea; the idea is the art.”41 The
physical materials or objects that come along with the idea are no more the art “than a truck
which carries a work of art from a studio to a gallery is a work of art.”42 In other words, the
photographic blowups of dictionary definitions that he had made and exhibited were sup-
plements, secondary “art information” as he referred to them, rather than works of art in
their own right.43 “I have always stated,” Kosuth insisted at the time, “that my ideas were not
meant to be considered esthetic objects in themselves but rather refer to an invisible ‘beauty’
or esthetic which is the idea. The beauty is intended to exist in the idea not in the photostat.”44
Paradoxically, given the denigration of the art object, from very early on Kosuth’s “ideas” were
sold. For despite pronouncements that his art was not made for a gallery, and that the phys-
ical components that communicated the art were secondary and purely residual, the fact
that his photostats could easily be hung flat on the wall in a way that closely resembled tra-
ditional paintings made them a comfortable fit in any gallery or traditional exhibition space.
s of concep
art as idea
For the art market, the implications of an art in which the execution of the work
was devalued to the point where it was discrete from the work’s artistic value were vast. In
an obvious sense, the rights of ownership of a type of art that exists primarily in the form of
an idea, where “it doesn’t really matter what physical shape it’s in,” were very difficult to en-
force.45 Yet already by 1968 there was a buoyancy of demand for Kosuth’s photostats. In a sur-
vey of the new art in the summer of 1968, the art correspondent for Time magazine addressed
this paradox, specifically singling out the work of Kosuth:
Today, more and more artists are devoting themselves to art that exists primarily in the mind’s eye.
Called “conceptual art,” it usually exists in the form of a scale model, a preliminary sketch or a writ-
ten description, suitable for framing. Any of these items, the artists explain, are but a hint, a
shadow, a shade, a clue to the real thing. . . . Currently on display at Manhattan’s Dwan Gallery are
forty-one works consisting mostly of words or scale drawings. Among them is one titled Art as Idea
as Idea, which is simply a photographic blowup of the dictionary definition of real. It is the end prod-
uct of Joseph Kosuth’s struggle with the artistic problem of defining what “the real thing is.” Says
Kosuth gravely: “I think the importance of all art is the ideas.”46
Even given the elusiveness of the work, the anonymous correspondent adds, “Conceptual art
has become a favorite with avant-garde collectors. Kosuth’s photographic version of real has
already been bought by Businessman-Collector John Powers.”47 In this instance, the sym-
biotic relationship between artist and patron developed to a point where it was no longer
clear who was doing the advertising for whom, since each was equally enhancing the other’s
The art market continued to boom in the late 1960s. As Newsweek announced, “Eco-
nomic prospects for young artists have never been better.”48 No longer, it seemed, would fis-
cal restrictions hinder the work of an artist. For now artworks with inexpensive common
materials were sought by collectors, and soon works with no physical materials at all would
also be.49 Even artistic investigations that by their very nature were neither studio-produced
nor meant to be seen in a gallery or museum became commercially viable.
For dealers such as Siegelaub, the central problem was lodged in the need to inform
the prospective patron about the new work. In effect, this meant a need to present informa-
tion not just about the existence of the work, and its availability, but also about the artist. For
Siegelaub realized the increased importance of the artist’s public image as the art became
increasingly ephemeral in nature and barely identifiable in visual terms. He saw that the im-
age of the artist (and its direct descendant, name recognition) had come to assume more and
more importance, to the extent that it replaced the primacy of the artwork itself.
The importance of publicity was also a dictum of Kosuth, who had begun his career
with the view that meaning in art, rather than a primary, essentially self-contained thing, ev-
ident to the viewer with taste, was essentially textual, the production of a variety of sources
of information. But Kosuth pushed this idea further, recognizing that it was this type of in-
formation—i.e., the media reputation, name recognition, public persona—that framed the
work of art. The new medium that Kosuth advanced in the context of 1960s art—the photo-
stat—quickly came to serve as his trademark, similar to the way lighting fixtures became as-
sociated with Flavin and firebricks with Andre. The medium comes to resemble a corporate
logo, easily identifiable and recognizable. And in turn the meaning of the work comes to be
overdetermined by information that, though about the work, is secondary to it. Such informa-
tion serves, in effect, as the work’s structural support. “Advance information . . . about an
artist’s concepts,” Kosuth wrote in 1969, “is necessary to the appreciation and understanding
of contemporary art.”50 Note, however, that “advance information” is also the language and
practice of advertising. For, as Jean Baudrillard observed in The System of Objects, even if the
demonstration of a product convinces no one, it does serve to “rationalize its purchase.” Al-
though the consumer might not “believe” in the product, he or she comes to believe in the pub-
licity about it.51 Hence, advance information, like publicity, supplants information that in the
art world had previously been conferred through criticism.
As is well known, during the mid-1960s various artists responded to the phenome-
non of critics setting the vocabulary of discussion and interpreting artworks in their own
way, “for their ends” as Kosuth put it, by refusing this division of labor and writing their own
art criticism for contemporary journals.52 For example, Judd, Morris, Smithson, and others
took it as their responsibility to publicly define the critical terms that informed their work.
But Kosuth would go one step further, not only writing about his own work under his own
name but taking on a pseudonym (Arthur R. Rose) and writing about the work of other like-
minded artists, thereby establishing a group or movement, like pop, which a public could
latch onto. Though Kosuth may have theoretically opposed the convenient lumping together
of disparate works and artists, he realized its practical importance in terms of publicity. In a
telling exchange, he explained that the attempt to “influence” was a crucial “artistic activity”
since it reinforced the importance and coherence of artworks and artists.53 More than merely
s of concep
art as idea
verbally interpreting his work, then, Kosuth strategically treated the entire range of his artis-
tic practice, what he termed his “total signifying activity,” as contributing to the operation
and meaning of his work.54 The immediate effect was the collapse of any hard and fast dis-
tinction between art and its publicity.
The similarities between Kosuth’s new artistic strategy and modern advertising
were extraordinary. Just as a newly released variety of dishwashing liquid required a brand
name complete with an advertising campaign presenting not just information about the
product (since it is more or less the same as others) but a series of intertextual connotations
to generate additional value and desirability, so a new art for Kosuth also required a public-
ity campaign. Along with promoting the product, the campaign included rich overtones
about the career, creativity, future—in short, the image—of the artist. When Newsweek
asked Kosuth for a picture that would be seen by millions, he dressed in a white double-
breasted suit, white shirt, white tie, and dark sunglasses, and posed in front of an unusually
large blowup of a photostat with a dictionary definition of the word “idea” (fig. 2.6). It is in this
regard, too, that Kosuth’s editorial statement in the first issue of Straight that “advertisement
contains the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper” (ostensibly a quote from Thomas Jef-
ferson) should primarily be seen. Yet a clear distinction must be drawn between advertising’s
status as a discourse on the object and as an object in its own right. As Baudrillard phrased
it, “Advertising in its entirety constitutes a useless and unnecessary universe. It is pure con-
notation. It contributes nothing to production or to the direct practical application of things,
yet it plays an integral part in the system of objects, not merely because it relates to con-
sumption but also because it itself becomes an object to be consumed.”55
T H R E E S I N C E W I N D H A M
Given Kosuth’s notion of presentation, his awareness of the powerful roles of both advance
information and public persona, together with his belief in the supreme value of aesthetic
innovation, it is not surprising that he was attracted to Siegelaub. As we have seen, the lat-
ter was not only vitally committed to the new and emergent but also a diligent publicist,
spending hours, days, writing press releases, proposals, and the like and mailing them out to
a wide array of prospective patrons, arts organizations, and newspapers. Siegelaub’s agenda
of discovering, grouping, and advancing a small group of ambitious artists as an art move-
ment evidently appealed to Kosuth, who recognized that promoted individualistically his
2.6 Joseph Kosuth in Newsweek, 29 July 1968; photograph by Lawrence Fried
work might be reduced to an eccentric sidelight. Indeed, the most important galleries of the
mid to late 1960s (including Leo Castelli, Andre Emmerich, Sidney Janis, and the Green
Gallery) had begun to curate shows in which they related art primarily in morphological
terms, and encouraged the establishment of art movements by promoting artists whose
work resembled that of those in their stable. There were also dangers to be avoided. In 1968
the dealer Richard Bellamy, former director of the Green Gallery and a trustee of Kosuth’s
Museum of Normal Art, warned artists about the hazards of a hasty introduction to the art
world.56 “It can be debilitating for a young artist to enter the race too quickly,” Bellamy cau-
tioned. “Many who make exciting debuts just aren’t heard of two or three years later.”57 More-
over, given the currency of the debate about the relationship between psychotropic drugs
and creativity, Kosuth may have feared that the unconventional aspects of his work and
ideas might be read, like much other contemporary art in the late 1960s, as the result of a
“drug-inspired vision.” “Familiar with contemporary literature, film, philosophy and science,”
wrote Newsweek’s Howard Junker in the summer of 1968, “the young artists are extremely
articulate—many earn M.A.’s as a credential for teaching. And like many of their peers,
they are also into marijuana and LSD. . . . The life style and perceptual distortions of drugs
are simply taken for granted, the way abstract expressionists took drinking for granted.”58
If his work was taken as the galvanizing force of a movement, however, Kosuth realized it
would have to be taken seriously. In this regard he evidently saw as much potential in Sie-
gelaub’s practice as in the work of the artists affiliated with him who were edging toward
Their first collaboration in the articulation of an artistic movement was the review
“Three since Windham,” of the show at Windham College, which included an update of the
artists’ activities.59 Kosuth focused on the fact that the works were exhibited outdoors at
Windham College, but argued that their significance lay in the art theory that informed
them; this was what was both novel about the works and their source of legitimacy. He went
on to interpret the work of the three artists in the Windham College exhibition as primarily
concerned with the conceptual aspects of art. “Andre’s work, like the best art that has been
done in our century, is about ideas. . . . Certainly one does not need Carl Andre to be able to
experience metal flooring, lined bricks, stacked hay. Its value exists as an art idea.”60 This, ac-
cording to Kosuth, was what separated artists such as Andre from others. “Non-artists,” he
proclaimed, “insist on something along with the art in art, because they are not that excited
by the idea of art. They need retinal titillation along with the art to keep them interested. But
s of concep
art as idea
the artist has that same obsessed interest in art that the physicist has in physics, and the
philosophers in philosophy.”61
It was Weiner’s new work in particular that Kosuth championed, the core of which
he located in the prescriptive structure of the linguistic model that governed its production—
a linguistic model at the base of Kosuth’s own artistic operation. “One of Weiner’s spray
spots,” Kosuth argued in reference to the artist’s recent works, such as Two Minutes of Spray
Paint Directly upon the Floor from a Standard Aerosol Can (fig. 2.7),
relates to the concept of the process of spraying. That relationship makes it removed once more, with
the artist understanding the general results of spraying and accepting it as art before it is even vi-
sualized. It is knowing generally what spray spots look like and accepting it as a probability but not
a necessity in the art. This is a total rejection of form as being “formally meaningful”—i.e., rela-
tional. Which means that it is meaningless specifically (painting) but meaningful generally
(art). . . . Pollock’s weakness is that his work became contextual. Weiner’s work is about process as
concept, rather than process to end in an art object. Perhaps Weiner has “formalized” Pollock’s “art-
making” by removing it from its expressionist orientation. Weiner’s interest in the process as con-
cept relates to his interest in making an art that would by-pass composition and still be visual and
“formal”. The visual information received when looking at Weiner’s work is solely the residue of an
activity. No “esthetic” choices. It’s a “conceptual” art that offers visual experience.62
The importance of Kosuth’s need to write about the work of the artists he would
soon become most identified with cannot be overestimated; at the time, criteria of judgment
capable of adequately addressing this new type of work as art had yet to be formulated. But
it is also important to note the contradictions in Kosuth’s concept of art. If on the one hand
he ontologically posited the central importance of an artwork’s idea, on the other he ac-
knowledged that for something to attain the status of art it had to be identified as such by in-
formation secondary to its primary element. At this stage Kosuth was still interpreting the
work of others, but before long he would actively interpret his own art under the guise of
Arthur R. Rose.
2.7 Lawrence Weiner, Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor from a
Standard Aerosol Can, 1968
I N V E S T I G A T I O N S
Kosuth’s opportunity to wear two hats—of artist and critic—occurred when Siegelaub asked
him to participate along with Barry, Weiner, Douglas Huebler, and Ian Wilson in the now
famous “January 5–31, 1969” exhibition.63 One of Kosuth’s earliest pieces in this show was a
board-mounted photostat (4 x 4 feet) from the 1967 Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) series commis-
sioned by Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein (fig. 2.8). The text of a dictionary entry for the word
“painting” was placed in white type across the center of the black, square board. Significantly,
the illustration of this piece in the show’s all-important catalogue took the form of a photo-
graph featuring a square photostat mounted onto a stretcherlike support and hung, paint-
inglike, flat on a wall. The strip of shade that runs vertically immediately to the left of the
catalogue image emphasizes the work’s objectness and portability. Accordingly, the work has
to be seen as a slightly supercilious if not highly ironic comment on painting, insofar as a
photostat by its very nature problematizes and negates characteristics inherent to painting,
including the signature and the uniqueness of the object.
In both the catalogue statement and the self-interview with Arthur R. Rose that
supplemented the exhibition, Kosuth stated that his new work, to which he subsequently re-
ferred as the Second Investigation, had progressed beyond the earlier Titled (Art as Idea as Idea)
series. No longer would he present abstractions of particular “materials” such as water, air,
or painting; rather his work now consisted of “abstractions of abstractions,” in which he ap-
propriated the eight classes that comprise the Synopsis of Categories at the front of Roget’s
Thesaurus. Kosuth contended that he employed Roget’s schematic topology in order to re-
move further the aesthetic experience from the work of art. He defended his anti-aesthetic
strategy with the argument that only practices of negation could continue to make art rele-
vant for the “intelligent and sensitive”:
I began to realize, as well, that the intelligent and sensitive people in my environment had experi-
ences with nonart portions of their visual world that were of such quality and consistency that the
demarcation of similar experiences as art would make no appreciable difference; that perhaps
mankind was beginning to outgrow the need for art on that level; that he was beginning to deal with
his world aesthetically.64
s of concep
art as idea
2.8 Joseph Kosuth, Titled (Art as Idea as Idea), 1967
Kosuth concludes that the survival and continuation of art in an era when the visual and the
aesthetic have become supreme, when “the entire human environment [has become] a work
of art,” as Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore wrote in 1967, depends on the ability of ad-
vanced artists to negate those realms.65
In the self-interview, Kosuth announced that he no longer presented his work in ob-
ject form, that is, in the form of mounted photostats. Instead, in a way that was clearly
prompted by Lee Lozano’s and Dan Graham’s works for magazine pages, Kosuth’s Second In-
vestigation took the form of enigmatic, anonymous advertisements in newspapers and peri-
odicals.66 The principle, as Lozano put it, was to “buy space in the publication of your choice,
Artforum you say, for the time duration of your choice. Use the space of each issue as a box
for the idea or ideas of your choice.” Lozano emphasizes that “piggybacking” on the art maga-
zine provided the advantage of a “guaranteed, fast, wide distribution” of one’s ideas.67
During the run of the “January 5–31, 1969” show, Kosuth purchased advertising
space in an array of newspapers in which he published Roget’s categories laid out in the for-
mat of advertising tracts. In the temporary gallery space, he pinned to the wall, side by side,
tearsheets from these publications featuring parts of the categories “Existence” and “Time”
(fig. 2.9). Above each tearsheet, also pinned to the wall, was the particular publication’s
Kosuth’s Second Investigation set in motion a range of unprecedented effects within
the context of artistic production. The serial production and distribution of the work negated
the uniqueness and preciousness that conventionally determined a work’s exchange value.
Moreover, the very nature of the harnessed medium of distribution—widely circulating
newspapers and magazines—at once supplied the work with the potential to reach an un-
precedentedly large audience while problematizing its use value. Thus Kosuth could simul-
taneously argue that the work was utterly serious in nature and boast about “the fact that
people can wrap dishes with my work.”69
The paradoxical tenor of these strikingly different claims found a degree of resolu-
tion in Kosuth’s insistence that his work’s visual appearance could be separated from its in-
formation content. From 1968 on, he repeated again and again that the artistic dimension of
his work inhered not in the fragmented form of presentation but rather in the totality of the
idea. “It is impossible to see my work,” he explained in the spring of 1969 to David Shirey, who
was compiling information for a feature article in Art in America on the new phenomenon of
s of concep
art as idea
2.9 Joseph Kosuth, Second Investigation, I. Existence (Art as Idea as Idea), 1968, as installed
in the exhibition “January 5–31, 1969”
“Impossible Art”: “What is seen is the presentation of the information. The art exists only as
an invisible, ethereal idea.”70
There is an unmistakable connection between Kosuth’s Second Investigation and the
late 1960s artistic practice of LeWitt. Indeed, on numerous occasions in 1968 and 1969 Ko-
suth articulated the operation of his new work in terms that clearly evoked the legacy of Le-
Witt’s conceptual art, articulated in the mid-1960s and published in the summer of 1967 as
“Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.” Kosuth’s comments in yet another self-interview of 1969 are
a case in point:
With my dictionary definition works it became evident to me that the form of presentation (photo-
stats) were [sic] often being considered “paintings” even though I continually attempted to make it
clear that the photostats and the art was [sic] the idea. After that series I began to use obvious me-
dia (newspapers, magazines, billboards, bus and train advertising, television) as the form of pres-
entation. I felt this made it clear that the art is conceptual and not experiential. I use the synopsis
of categories (developed by Roget in reference work) to enable me in my capacity as an artist to keep
my choices on a general level. The synopsis of categories series, which I refer to as “investigation 2”,
was conceptually completed last year when I began the presentation phase of the work. All my work
exists when it is conceived because the execution is irrelevant to the art.71
The negation of the experiential in favor of the conceptual dimension, the deemphasis of ob-
jects and championing of ideas, the reliance not on the dictates of aesthetic reasoning but
on a priori schemes—all of these characteristics resonate with what LeWitt described in
“Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.”
But the primary dialogue that Kosuth’s new work established was with the artist’s
own First Investigation. In a 1971 essay, written as the introduction to what was now the Sixth
Investigation, he described the development of the Second Investigation in dialectical terms,
unfolding out of contradictions inherent in his earlier work.72 Kosuth’s stated problem with
the First Investigation (i.e., the first Art as Idea as Idea series) was that it was too static and that
its narrative and temporal dimensions were too limited. Its framework, metaphorically
speaking, was too narrow. By contrast, the Second Investigation “neutralized” that iconic qual-
ity and greatly expanded the parameters of art. By its very nature, the work came together in
various different public sites over an undetermined sequence of time. Hence by late 1968 Ko-
suth had arrived at a method of artistic production and distribution that in its very expan-
s of concep
art as idea
siveness made the work virtually impossible to grasp in any form other than ideational. Each
appropriated category, or subcategory, from Roget’s Thesaurus that Kosuth presented in a dis-
tinct advertising venue thus functioned as a fragment of a work that in its entirety comprised
all eight classes of categories.
Like the work in the Windham College show, Kosuth’s Second Investigation was not
instantaneous, not present to the viewer immediately, but mediated in the literal sense. Fur-
thermore, the Second Investigation underscored the temporal dimension of production and
the sequence of events required for the artwork to emerge as an entity. Each fragment rep-
resented a distinct part of the ensemble that was perpetually incomplete except as a total
idea. But perhaps the most significant negation effected by this fragmentary art was the way
it shattered the smooth finish, broke up the complete and unified work, and, by extension,
dismantled the mythical wholeness of the fetishized aesthetic object.
With the Second Investigation Kosuth left it to others to select the typeface, the par-
ticular mass-cultural venues to be utilized, and the precise site in those venues where the
anonymous advertisements would be placed. What started to surface then, like the return
of the repressed, was the question of the labor of production—a question commonly held in
check by the fetishized artwork. This is a further development of the decentering of the pro-
cedure of artistic production begun by the minimalists’ practice of entrusting skilled spe-
cialists to manufacture their work according to exacting specifications. Kosuth’s project
raises additional questions concerning the status of the work of art, such as whether it has a
traditional, institutionally or discursively defined space or is contextually defined. In this
sense Kosuth’s Second Investigation goes beyond the artistic operation entailed by the mini-
malist work of Judd, Flavin, or Andre, which (with a few notable exceptions such as Andre’s
Joint) was always installed in traditionally defined exhibition spaces: the white-box commer-
cial gallery or pristine museum. By contrast, insofar as Kosuth’s anonymous, serially pro-
duced and distributed works dismantled notions of artistic subjectivity, authority,
uniqueness, and the neat traditional autonomous realm of high culture, they were closer to
the artistic practice of Lozano and Graham. And, as I suggested, there are quite evident re-
lations between Kosuth’s assault on traditional categories and conventions and some of
Warhol’s artistic strategies in the 1960s.
Kosuth’s modus operandi was thus highly compatible with that of Siegelaub. In-
deed the importance of their collaboration cannot be underestimated. Both were keenly
aware of how to manipulate and control publicity, and how to use the mass media and com-
munications technologies to disseminate art. Both sought to bring together like-minded
artists in order to produce a more or less coherent movement that could be easily identified
by the media and, more importantly, by patrons. Hence Kosuth’s project extended beyond the
relatively hermetic, traditional modes of art production toward a practice that included the
promotion of artworks—an ambitious project, and one that could not have been achieved
without the partnership of Siegelaub, whom Kosuth clearly recognized as a maverick: “Of
course, then there’s the importance of a dealer like . . . well, I shouldn’t say dealer because
he’s not . . . um, an entrepreneur like Seth Siegelaub.”73
s of concep
art as idea
This page intentionally left blank
PART II primary and secondary information
The word “art” is becoming less of a noun and more of a verb.
—Robert Barry, 19691
Before, meaning ten years ago, you could have said art was about information. Except informa-
tion before had to do with color, line, composition, and all that bullshit, in which case the art
and the presentation of the art were identical. But here you have a situation where the presen-
tation of the art and the art are not the same thing.
—Seth Siegelaub, 19692
The development of an art that degraded traditional materials, surfaces, and self-contained
forms in favor of media not previously associated with art, and of an unprecedented trans-
parency of operative structures in the process of signification, had a profound impact on
Siegelaub’s conception of his role as a dealer. As he observed in a 1969 interview with the
English critic Charles Harrison, “Gradually there developed an ‘art’ which didn’t need to be
hung. An art wherein the problem of presentation paralleled one of the problems previously
involved in the making and exhibition of a painting: that is, to make someone else aware that an
artist had done anything at all.”3
Yet this coupling of art’s mythical, intrinsic presence with the operation of signifi-
cation inherent in publicity—a conflation that would become central to Siegelaub’s opera-
tion as a dealer as well as to what would come to be termed “conceptual art”—was not as
straightforward as his comments to Harrison implied. A particularly striking example of
Siegelaub’s attempt to grapple with this “problem of presentation” was the sudden shift in
his commercial practice in 1968. “Before,” he remarked in early 1969, “when someone painted
a painting, what had been done and what you saw were the same thing. . . . It was all there
in front of you.”4 Echoing Kosuth, Siegelaub argued that a situation had recently developed
in which the material presentation of the work and the intrinsic elements of the art were
You see, one of the issues that has interested me about this art is the separation between the art it-
self and its presentation. This discrepancy, or this difference, is a relatively recent undertaking, or a
relatively recent issue. See, if before you had a painting, even, say, Bob Barry’s earlier pieces, what
you saw, the art, and how you saw it, were the same thing. With a painting on the wall, the art and
the presentation of it is the same. But now you have a case where . . . the art is not the same thing
as how you’re given the information.5
According to Siegelaub, it was now possible to split the artwork into what he re-
ferred to as “primary information” (“the essence of the piece,” its ideational part) and “sec-
ondary information” (the material information by which one becomes aware of the piece, the
raw matter, the fabricated part, the form of presentation).6 This idealist conception of mean-
ing as an a priori construct existing before its embodiment in form raised the issue of sub-
stitution and exchange in a social and economic sphere. For Siegelaub the separation of art
ideas that are abstract by their very nature from the raw matter on which primary informa-
tion relies for presentation meant that linguistic and graphic information presented in the
catalogue or other forms of printed media played a potentially unprecedented role in artis-
But Siegelaub was clearly aware that making the new work accessible to a large
public (an even larger public than for previous forms of art) was only half of the problem,
since the abstruse and esoteric character of the art rendered it incomprehensible to all but
a small closed circle. He evidently decided that if these new works were to operate success-
fully in public space they would have to be presented within systems of communication and
representation accessible to their presumed public. In order to address this problem (and
here it is worth recalling that his merchandising operation already favored publicity), he tact-
fully increased the use of supplementary “outside information.” This took several forms: ex-
pository articles that identified the artists as a group with a specific dealer to enable the
public to place them, laudatory reviews, interviews, and public discussions by the artists ar-
ticulating the epistemological basis for this work.
For Siegelaub, certain attributes of exhibition catalogues made them particularly
attractive vehicles for disseminating art. As “‘containers’ of information” that were “unre-
sponsive to the environment,” catalogues offered neutral sites in which to exhibit work.7 On
numerous occasions he reiterated his concern to make the art he was promoting “known to
the multitudes”; he was well aware that catalogues could reach a much larger public than
more conventional material supports for art.8 Rather than simply a few aesthetes and purist
art cognoscenti, the potential audience for catalogues was both enormous and diverse, since
the printed matter circulated in a myriad of different contexts and countries.
By the fall of 1968, all of the elements in this strategy were beginning to come to-
gether: in an illustrated article in Arts Magazine, Gordon Brown discussed the work of Barry,
Huebler, Kosuth, and Weiner; Arthur R. Rose’s essay, “Three since Windham,” was slated to
appear in the same magazine; and plans were made for the artists’ self-interviews to be
distributed in various magazines. Siegelaub’s systematic blitz of “outside information” pub-
licizing his artists and elucidating their work was ready to be launched (fig. II.1). To comple-
ment his ambitious promotional program, he orchestrated and circulated a series of
exhibitions in which the catalogue played an unprecedented role. The first of these featured
the recent work of Douglas Huebler.
II.1 Publicity photograph by Seth Siegelaub featuring the four participating artists in “January
5–31, 1969”: Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner
This page intentionally left blank
My work is concerned with determining the form of art when the role played by visual experience
is mitigated or eliminated. In a number of works, I have done so by first bringing “appearance”
into the foreground of the piece and then suspending the visual experience of it by having it
actually function as a document that exists to serve as a structural part of a conceptual system.
—Douglas Huebler, 19701
In late 1965, the artist and art instructor Douglas Huebler invited critic Dore Ashton, then
collaborating with Siegelaub on a large show the gallery owner had initiated earlier that year,
the “25” exhibition, to address contemporary art issues at Bradford Junior College in Bradford,
Massachusetts.2 Huebler held a reception following the lecture at his house, and he took the
opportunity to show Ashton the modular constructions in wood covered with thin sheets of
Formica that comprised his recent artistic activity. The sculptures assembled open units of
six-inch-square oblong blocks joined one to the other to make endless changes of position
and patterns of angles (fig. 3.1). Some of the pieces were more symmetrical than others, and
locations, variables, and durations
3.1 Douglas Huebler, Truro Series 3-66, 1966
since the structures had no favored orientation, they could be displayed in any position. Later
in the 1960s Huebler reflected on these works:
The things I made were out of plywood. They became essentially architectural, or architectonic in
structure. And they were meant to have a multipositioned aspect. That is, that they were made in
such a way like a cube, in the simplest way . . . a cube you could turn in any direction and it’s say-
ing the same kind of thing. And the forms that I made were more complex than a cube, but at the
same time were meant to be multifunctional in that way, so that they had no privileged, pictorial
aspect. . . . The work, having its visual aspects removed—its anecdotal aspects removed and so
forth—was meant to be an equivalent object in the world, rather than a special object in the world.3
The sculptures thus dissolved traditional internal hierarchical orders, negated traces of
meaning (i.e., “anecdotal aspects”), and assaulted the conventional hierarchy of objects. For
Huebler, furthermore, the veneer of white and gray Formica diminished the objects’ textural
quality, as well as the artist’s hand, and operated as “a skin that relieves the object of its
The effectiveness of the broad range of negations that informed this body of sculp-
ture is difficult to assert precisely. From Huebler’s point of view, the negations shifted the fo-
cus away from the sensibility of the artist and the idiosyncratic particularities of the object
in favor of the phenomenological perception of the viewer. According to him, the temporal
and bodily experience of moving through an architectural container led the viewer to an ex-
treme self-awareness of his or her performative and phenomenological involvement with
the aesthetic object. As he subsequently explained, rather than presume that sense in art is
generated by autonomous sets of terms, his sculptures emphasized the degree to which fac-
tors of spectatorial interaction and spatial contextuality explicitly contributed to the mean-
ing and vision of artistic objects: “I wanted the sculpture to serve as a kind of springboard for
the percipient to recognize himself or herself in the space with the thing (minimal sculpture)
as an existential moment.”5
Ashton was not particularly interested in Huebler’s recent activity in sculpture, but
she suggested he contact both the curator Kynaston McShine, who was then putting together
a large exhibition of contemporary sculpture for the Jewish Museum in New York, and the
young, up-and-coming dealer Seth Siegelaub. Huebler immediately communicated with
McShine, who expressed interest in considering the artist’s recent sculptural work for his up-
coming show “Primary Structures.” Soon thereafter, while in New York to meet McShine,
Huebler stopped by Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art.6
Huebler did not introduce himself to Siegelaub when he first visited the gallery.
Instead on 17 February 1966 he mailed the dealer a dossier with slides of his work. “Dear
Mr. Siegelaub,” he wrote in his letter of introduction, “In a recent conversation with Dore Ash-
ton she suggested to me that I contact you in regard to the possibility of your gallery show-
ing my work. I will take the liberty of enclosing some examples of recent constructions and
will look forward to hearing from you.”7 Siegelaub, busy with the “25” show, delayed in re-
sponding to Huebler’s letter, and on 7 March 1966 the latter wrote him once again, this time
in a dramatically different tone: “Dear Mr. Siegelaub: Several weeks ago I sent you some
slides and photos and as I infer that they do not interest you would you be kind enough to re-
turn them.”8 Siegelaub hastily mailed the slides back to the artist and made arrangements to
drive up to Boston to meet him. In Boston, they almost immediately agreed that Huebler
would produce thirty new works to be exhibited at Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art in Sep-
tember of that year.9
The sculptures Huebler produced for this ill-fated exhibition were along the same
lines as his Formica pieces—material objects that could be grasped phenomenologically. But
in the next one and a half years Huebler’s work changed dramatically, and in early 1968 he
abandoned object sculpture altogether. Reflecting on this shift barely a year later, Huebler
described the move away from sculptural objects in terms of a logical development of
his work. The sculptures were “small enough in scale that they functioned in a room,” he
but once they began to get larger in scale, . . . I began to think about putting these works outside so
that they would have an ongoing aspect in actual nature, rather than working with the environment
in an interior situation where they worked with the wall and the ceiling. . . . [In early 1968] I did a
piece that I meant to go outside, and I took it outside, and I did another piece deliberately for an out-
door sculpture show that was more of a mock-up. And in both cases, I was absolutely destroyed to
see how puny they looked outside. Enormous inside, too big for a room, . . . [but] when I put the work
outside . . . Wham! You know, there was the rest of the world, and trees were more interesting than
the sculpture, and the sky was—and so forth. Unless—and this was the thing that really hit me—
unless you framed the environment in which the sculpture existed outside.10
s, variables, an
For Huebler this idea posed a major problem, since institutional and discursive
conventions capable of “framing the environment” within artistic production had yet to be
established. Siegelaub had addressed this same problem of framing conventions in an essay
that he wrote immediately following the Windham College show:
Confronted with the outdoors, one is immediately impressed by its vast diversity. Sun, earth, woods,
grass, sky, all combine to make an idealized space impossible. The relationship between exterior
space and the artist has more unanswered conventions. This is because artists have not, until re-
cently, addressed themselves to the nature of exterior space. The framing conventions have not yet
been articulated. For instance, an interior sculpture is framed by the room that it is located in, what
would be a comparable exterior environment? Can (or should) exterior sculpture “hold” its space?
By scale? Time? Size indoors is obviously relational, but what is a relational size outdoors? Where
is the “place” for exterior sculpture? Where does it end? Where does it begin? At this point (in time)
it seems that interior space is more neutral than exterior space. Quite possibly because it has been
less well defined.11
Both Huebler and Siegelaub had arrived at reflections on the institutional framework of art
similar to those Tony Smith had voiced in a notorious interview of December 1966, where he
described a car ride he had recently taken on the unfinished New Jersey Turnpike to Samuel
It was a dark night and there were no lights or shoulder markers, lines, railings, or anything at all
except the dark pavement moving through the landscape of the flats, rimmed by hills in the distance,
but punctuated by stacks, towers, fumes, and colored lights. This drive was a revealing experience.
The road and much of the landscape was artificial, and yet it couldn’t be called a work of art. On the
other hand, it did something for me that art had never done. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but
its effect was to liberate me from many of the views I had had about art. It seemed that there had
been a reality there that had not had any expression in art. The experience on the road was some-
thing mapped out but not socially recognized. I thought to myself, it ought to be clear that that’s the
end of art. Most painting looks pretty pictorial after that. There is no way you can frame it, you just
have to experience it.12
While all three speakers invoke the problem of establishing framing conditions for
the vast outdoors, the tone in which they address this problem differs. For Smith, it is im-
possible to resolve the contradiction between the ineffable (and sublime) experience of the
modern industrial landscape and the delimited conventions of painting and artistic tradi-
tions in general. Two years later, Siegelaub and Huebler are more optimistic about establish-
ing framing conventions capable of demarcating and presenting aspects of the vast outdoors
within an artistic context.
In the intervening period from 1966 to 1968, a growing number of artists had begun
to work in sculptural media expanded to unprecedented proportions, and this development
contributed to the more confident tone of the later articulations. By 1968 sculptors such as
Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Richard Long, and Dennis Oppenheim were employing huge
areas of the countryside as a medium for art-making.13 That year Heizer began executing
monumental sculpture, or “land art” as it came to be called; de Maria constructed Mile Long
Drawing, consisting of two parallel chalk lines, twelve feet across and one mile long, in the
Mohave Desert of California; the British artist Long was nominating hikes and walks through
remote landscapes as his work; and Oppenheim horizontally stretched enormous lengths of
snow fence to trample patterns onto a wheat field in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, during the
growing season to make Surface Indentation.14
A number of artists also proposed imposing monuments to be placed in the urban
environment in such a way that they could compete with and even surpass architecture. A
case in point is the Bulgarian artist Christo, whose monumental projects were then coming
to be more widely known.15 Perhaps the most outrageous incidents in this vein were Otto
Piene’s proposal to construct public monuments the size of skyscrapers and LeWitt’s scheme
to encase the Empire State Building in concrete, which, in their sheer excess and absurdity,
commented explicitly on the contemporary impossibility of monumental sculpture.16 For
Huebler, such monumental projects were too assertive, too much like “the gesturing in Ab-
stract Expressionism, for instance, or any number of romantic postures where you’re going
to get attention by hook or by crook.”17 As he noted on several occasions in the later 1960s,
the advent of land art led him to recognize that the traditional elements and practices of
sculpture were no longer credible or valid. In turn, he soon abandoned the conventional cat-
egories of art, as much as the production of objects, increasingly relying instead on devices
of suggestion and absence.18
s, variables, an
Huebler’s first works in this vein employed mass-produced, ordinary topographical
road maps. With the aid of a felt marker, he would chart out a series of short automobile
round trips on road maps that in turn functioned as diagrammatic structures of trips to be
taken. The maps “saved” each trip as an entity—as a description of movement through time
and space. Charted in an “absolutely random” manner, with no prior knowledge of the
routes, the trips were noncompositional, nondesignated operations that negated authorial
control. Moreover, Huebler supplemented the maps with dry textual descriptions, employ-
ing the simple scientific or legal language featured on cartographs. The supplementary texts
were utterly void of poetic or philosophical resonance, their sole function being to define the
parameters of the pieces. In this sense, Huebler’s cartographic works articulated thoroughly
self-reflexive narratives that did not provide access to artistic subjectivity. The new works,
like Kosuth’s, were presented in the same detached, comment-free way that characterized
Alain Robbe-Grillet’s writings of the 1950s and 1960s, an association that Huebler himself
was at pains to make.19 Like Robbe-Grillet, Huebler constructed a system that deprived the
viewer of all illusionistic narrative dimensions, other than those requiring a close-up or di-
rect tracing of the construction of the artistic project itself. As an early critic of Huebler’s in-
formation-based work put it, “he does not interpret—he documents.”20
The map pieces followed quite logically from Huebler’s earlier interest in holistic,
generalized gestalt forms, whose total shapes and constituting principles could easily be rec-
ognized as a whole by the viewer without the need to move around the stationary form. In-
deed the structural integrity and simplicity of the road map (its relatively small scale,
condensation of multiple visual signs, gridded topographical structure) allowed the viewer
to grasp the concept of the space independently of time, a phenomenological intuition some-
what analogous to the viewer’s perception in a single glance of the shape of a three-
dimensional sculpture. Furthermore, the art, according to Huebler, was in “the trip itself”—a
trip that could be performed either literally, by the percipient getting in a car and following
the map, or cognitively within the exhibition space.21 As such, representation was pushed “to
the point of imagining a map so rigorous and referential that it becomes coterminous with
its object,” to invoke Fredric Jameson’s provocative description of the fate of the referent in
the structural concept of the sign during the 1960s.22
Simultaneous with the synchronic, holistic aspect of the road map is the more di-
achronic, sequential dimension also evoked in Huebler’s charted automobile trips. As the
viewer’s eye followed the path of the trip, the frozen space of the cartographic document
3.2 Douglas Huebler, Rochester Trip, 1968
thawed, becoming filmic and unfolding in a continuous present. The inert completeness of
the road map thus collided with the temporal nature of the journey in a manner that substi-
tuted “script” for presence, “textual structure” for event or fact, and the “process of making”
for any symbolic or transcendent meaning.23
Rochester Trip, 1968, is an early example of these road trip works (fig. 3.2). On a com-
mon road map of northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, Huebler charted
a round trip with a felt pen. At the bottom of the road map he wrote:
Rochester Trip. A round trip drive between Haverhill, Massachusetts and Rochester [New Hamp-
shire]. (This trip must begin in Haverhill and proceed, in either direction, returning in the other di-
rection.) The trip need not be taken, but if taken the above route must be taken. Whatever is seen
when the trip is taken joins with this map as the form of the work.
The penultimate sentence of this description is highly telling, insofar as it simultaneously
recalls the disempowering aspects of the decade-old “happenings” of Allan Kaprow and fore-
shadows one of the most participatory artistic operations of late 1960s art. In one sense the
verbal descriptions on Huebler’s map pieces echo the strict tone of works such as Kaprow’s
18 Happenings in Six Parts of 1959, which commanded participants to adhere obediently to the
script—“the beginning and end of each [part] will be signalled by a bell,” “you will remain in
your seats,” “there will be no applause after each set.” In another sense the cartographic
works point to the rupture that Weiner effected later in 1968, putting egalitarian forms of in-
teraction into practice by leaving decisions about whether or not the work was to be made to
the discretion of the beholder. It is in this context that the instructions Huebler wrote on one
of the new works on paper that he sent to Siegelaub late in the spring of 1968 ought primarily
to be seen. “As the so-called ‘earth sculptures’ are about ‘place’,” Huebler explained to the
dealer, “so are the maps. They’re arbitrary. May or may not be taken which is arbitrary, but if
taken the commitment should be to take them exactly as designed. Starting point optional.”24
Siegelaub was intrigued by the new direction of Huebler’s work, and the two began
to collaborate on an exhibition project. No sooner had they begun to organize the exhibition
when Huebler jumped from charting trips on maps to defining place by points or markers lo-
cated in huge areas of space. The starting point for these works continued to be the map. As
before, the artist would chart a route on a map, but now he systematically singled out cer-
tain spots along the route to be traveled to and photographed. The prosaic documentary pho-
tographs were thus the result of a predetermined conceptual order; they were meant neither
to have an aesthetic value nor to represent an interesting place or staged scene. Rather their
role was to document the actual site Huebler had schematically located on a map. Further-
more, the accuracy of the match between the designated spot on the map and the site at
which the photograph was taken was of little import to his schema.25 The deadpan, docu-
mentary function of the photographs—their status as “secondary information”—superseded
their representational function. As secondary information, they supplemented the work in a
manner analogous to the way the terse linguistic descriptions, the maps, and the “marked”
locations functioned. Once again, Huebler was careful to assert that the documents were
void of intrinsic merit:
In the same sense that I don’t care about specific appearance I really don’t care about precise or ex-
haustive documentation. The documents prove nothing. They make the piece exist and I am inter-
ested in having that existence occur in as simple a way as possible. Where a thing is involves
everything else and I like that idea much more than how I “feel” about it or what it looks like.26
Huebler’s statement that it is solely the set of documents that “make the piece exist” points
to a clear split between the concept, or what Siegelaub would refer to as the “primary infor-
mation,” and the documentation, or “secondary information.” In this instance the primary in-
formation demands the secondary information to bring it into being. The concept has no
presence in and of itself; the work is now comprised solely of the idea of the relationship that
is signified by the documentation.
T H E D O C T R I N E O F E Q U A L A C C E S S
Huebler’s early map pieces and site “sculptures” establish a dialogue with Robert Smithson’s
post-1967 practice of integrating maps, photographs, descriptive passages, and earth sam-
ples into his work. The latter function as equal elements in a linguistic field that operates as
a “deep three-dimensional abstract map that points to a specific site on the surface of the
earth.”27 Indeed for one early piece, Site Sculpture Project. Windham College Pentagram, 1968,
Huebler displaced a residue of earth from an actual site to the location of the exhibition—to
the “non-site,” in Smithson’s terms. Along with the earth sample Huebler exhibited a map, a
linguistic description, and photographs of the original site.28
s, variables, an
In contrast to Smithson’s dialectical method of positing both site and non-site, mat-
ter and mind, earth and concept as equal components, samples of earth were extremely rare
in Huebler’s work. Rather, the maps, photographs, and written information functioned as
secondary material signaling the site that remained abstract. Huebler’s work thus rules out
the concept of a fully present art object proposed by erudite late modernist critics such as
Michael Fried in “Art and Objecthood.”29 Rather than emphasizing (as Kosuth in his own way
also did) the art object’s formal essence or categorical being, Huebler’s new work fragmented
the centered late modernist art object and focused instead on the information system in
which certain traces and spaces were privileged as structural features—as what Jacques Der-
rida would in another context call “archi-traces.”30 For Huebler this information system was
comprised of documents. Furthermore, although Smithson insisted that the elements of his
artworks be taken literally, his writings articulated their meaning. In this sense Smithson
first turned the artwork into a text, and then developed procedures for reading the work.31 He
constantly emphasized the figurative aspects of the materials employed, which necessarily
involved the viewer moving from the materials to the supposed meanings. Huebler also
transformed the artwork into a text, but he and Smithson diverged on the degree of literal-
ity in their work.
In interviews and writings of the later 1960s, Smithson appealed to a well-
developed, independently articulated extra-artistic tradition: dialectics and the language of
entropy and confinement. This had tremendous power and benefit for his analysis but also
involved him in certain ways of reading the artwork as text that had an inertial drag on his
own analysis—ways of reading the meaning of the text that ran against his artistic aspira-
tions. Smithson did not indicate the extent to which the viewer was to read the text (artwork)
for its material qualities, but consistently emphasized the inherently unstable mechanics of
texts that involved the viewer moving from the signifier, the material of the work, to the sup-
posed meanings of that material. Although such meanings were no longer literal but im-
plicit, they nevertheless remained meanings; the viewer was still engaged in decoding
metonyms and metaphors in the artwork/text to determine what signified might be indi-
cated by a given signifier.
Because Huebler did not claim any connection between signifier and meaning, he
produced a reading of his own work that was far more literal than Smithson’s. Huebler did
not explicitly route a reading of his artistic production through a metaphorical language, the
way Smithson routed his work through entropy, confinement, and the tradition of dialectical
theory; he did not claim a connection, however oblique, between the signifiers of his work,
which he called the “raw information,” and some signified.32 Rather, in a way that bears a kin-
ship with Kosuth who stressed art’s literalness, Huebler was interested in the facticity of that
raw information without worrying about supposed meanings. As he put it, the tremendously
prosaic nature of the documents employed in his work served as
a criticism of what I consider to be the irresponsible use of signifying. We have come to a point where
things are very accessible and the more they get stacked up with myth, the more easily they’re con-
sumed and the more bullshit they become. I would like to try to help unload this stack of myth. This
stack of myth is related to man, his culture, and not just art. I’m using art to speak through to these
Huebler’s was thus a post-Smithson understanding of the artwork as text. It is un-
likely that Huebler would have been as literal about the textual operation of an artwork if
Smithson had not pointed the way by emphasizing the raw materials, the signifiers of his
work. In order to preserve his own creative identity, Huebler completed Smithson, as it were,
by being more literal than the latter, dropping his emphasis on spatial metaphors of inside
and outside, site and non-site, and replacing these with an emphasis on the temporality and
practice of making. The real and literal aspects of an artwork, Huebler argued, are located in
the practice of making, a process that by definition has a temporal dimension. For Huebler
the temporal dimension of an artwork operates not only in the process of production but also
in that of reception. Just as works of art are not produced or realized instantaneously, they
are also not present to the viewer immediately, contrary to Fried’s notorious claim in “Art and
Objecthood.”34 Rather, artworks are mediated in the literal sense that it takes time to observe
them and to contemplate their significance.
The serialization of relations in Huebler’s new work (the information package of
maps, photographs, and Robbe-Grillet-like language emptied of all metaphorical or
metonymical content) implies a degree of objectivity (in terms of its autonomous, self-
contained structure and self-definition) that precludes rational decision-making processes.
For if a system follows an external ordering principle, if it becomes a self-perpetuating, self-
generating structure with its own self-sufficient internal logic, then the artist takes a very
minor role and virtually disappears behind the structure’s self-generation. Such a self-
perpetuating system taking place, a priori, outside of the actual objects on view, but deter-
s, variables, an
mining them nonetheless, not only eliminates arbitrary artistic decisions but, as Huebler
noted, has ultimately to be seen as a process of decentering that negates the presence of sub-
jectivity in the work: “An inevitable destiny is set in motion by the specific process selected
to form such a work freeing it from further decisions on my part.”35
One of the foundational motivations for this artistic effort to break down the mys-
tery of compositional structure, to dismantle the myth of privileged aesthetic experience
and decenter the rational control over the art object, was political. It was an operation that
aimed to eliminate the need for privileged knowledge in the reception of art, advocating
instead a doctrine of equal access and interaction. “All of my works,” Huebler put it in
have been directed towards the process or the capacity of a work to generate the making of the work
by the percipient. . . . It’s a political concern also. It is, in effect, an effort to empty the work of what
appears to be the content. It is not to fill the work with content. It is to empty it . . . of mythology, to
empty it of literature and to allow it to speak by being empty. . . . I want to open the situation up to
the person seeing the work. I feel very obliged to allow the perceiver all the space he or she can use.
Therefore, my distance is to me a necessary posture so that I don’t get in the way. . . . The language
that I use in the work is meant to very carefully structure itself and build towards a kind of conclu-
sion that allows a reconstitution of the information by the viewer.36
Indeed, as noted earlier, in some cases the beholder was in control of much more than the
reconstruction of information. In the road trip pieces, Huebler placed the decision as to
whether or not to set the work in motion, to activate the work by taking the trip, in the do-
main of the beholder. These issues came together in a landmark show of Huebler’s work that
Siegelaub organized in 1968.
“ D O U G L A S H U E B L E R : N O V E M B E R 1 9 6 8 ”
The “Douglas Huebler: November 1968” show was the first to employ the exhibition cata-
logue as sole material support. Initially Huebler planned to produce ten distinct site-specific
sculptures, each located in a different city. On 25 June 1968, Siegelaub began to orchestrate
a campaign of direct-mail advertising to promote the project, sending a prospectus to a num-
ber of potential patrons.37 Whereas a few months earlier the work, the catalogue, and the
documentation had been three discrete entities, at this stage the documentation and the
catalogue were fused.38 “Each sculpture,” Siegelaub explained, “will come with photographs,
drawings, maps, metes and bounds, description and other relevant documents to certify
ownership.” Not only did the documentation “make the piece exist,” it also served to authen-
ticate the work and give it prominence. The cost of the sculpture would be computed ac-
cording to the amount of money and time the artist spent on transportation to and from the
site, on materials, and on documentation. The latter now plays an unprecedented role in de-
termining the overall value of the work.39
A couple of weeks later, Siegelaub placed further stress on the documentation.
Along with a slightly modified prospectus sent to a larger number of collectors, the cover let-
ter stated unequivocally that the information about the work would function as a certificate
of authenticity for the patron.40 In other words, possession of the information or documen-
tation of the work signaled ownership. In one blow, then, Siegelaub eliminated the bulk of the
material object and replaced it with documentation.
Although there were no direct responses to the prospectus, Siegelaub secured
funding for the printing costs of an exhibition catalogue from a local patron.41 Since Hue-
bler’s new work no longer entailed immediate, intimate objects or space, while its visible,
material aspects took the abstract form of documents and linguistic information sited on
printed pages, Siegelaub concluded that the artist’s new work could be effectively presented
in the field of distribution—and specifically in the catalogue—alone. As he observed in his
1969 interview with Harrison, “The catalogue can now act as primary information for the
exhibition, as opposed to the secondary information. . . . In some cases the exhibition can be
In an important sense, this shift in perspective from a narrow concern with the ob-
ject, or even with the context of placement, to a broader investigation of the artwork as a
phenomenon of the apparatus of publicity was perhaps best articulated by Dan Graham’s
important works for magazine pages, begun a few years earlier.43 Graham had recognized
that since most people rarely see original works of art but know of them primarily through
illustrations in art magazines, the work could effectively be embedded in the magazine from
the very beginning. This in turn enabled a fundamental decentering whereby the work not
only lost its object structure but its center as well, with the mass-cultural distribution form
of printed matter substituting for those conventions. As early as 1966, in a development that
came to represent one branch of “conceptual art,” Graham renounced the possibility of mak-
s, variables, an
ing objects altogether, reckoning that it was more feasible to inscribe the work from the be-
ginning within the channels in which it would inevitably be received.44 Like Graham, Huebler
and Siegelaub addressed questions of site specificity, hybrid categories, forms of distribution,
and, more generally, the contextual issues traditionally omitted from thinking about art.
The development of a type of work that could be presented without originals—a
syntagmatic work whose materiality slid along a chain of signifiers—also problematized the
issue of ownership.45 For if elements of documentary information now constituted the work,
then possession of those elements became ownership, and documents became artworks.46
This was a further step in the demystification of the precious, fetishized art object (the sep-
aration of the artistic idea from the palpable object) characteristic of the recent work of
Flavin and Andre. As Huebler put it in the Prospect 69 catalogue,
During the last ten years other art forms that do exist as objects have seriously challenged collec-
tors to suspend former expectations about what is original. Anyone could reproduce an Andre or a
Flavin for instance. What would he have? I believe that the sensibility behind a work of art should
be broadly accessible.47
In Huebler’s view the critique of the unique object performed by his new work, which he un-
derstood to be in the lineage of Flavin’s and Andre’s work, also incorporated a redefinition of
the role of the art patron. He described this change in a New York radio broadcast that Siege-
laub organized in 1969:
Someone who buys a Flavin, for instance, isn’t buying a light show. He is supporting an artist, like
scientists receive the money from science foundations. They are supporting his activities, whatever
his activities are, and if they want a fluorescent light they go to the hardware store and buy it for a
great deal less.48
A N E U T R A L L A N G U A G E
Siegelaub and Huebler tried to present the “Douglas Huebler: November 1968” exhibition in
as literal and detached a manner as possible. The laconic facticity of the exhibition title
echoed the works in the catalogue, which were conspicuous for their negation of all poetic
and metaphorical connotations. Consistent with his attempt “to avoid prejudicing the view-
ing situation,” Siegelaub decided not to include “outside verbal information like catalogue in-
troductions, thematic titles, et cetera.”49 Such neutrality, he reasoned, would allow the view-
ers more freedom to determine the nature of their own art experiences and interpretations
Huebler’s work was changing so rapidly that he evidently began to have doubts
about the feasibility of the exhibition project. This skepticism was compounded by the
highly ephemeral and unprecedented nature of his new works. As each successive work
posed a greater challenge to the existing conventions, the problem of criteria became more
pressing.50 But Siegelaub’s enthusiasm for the project, and for the recent developments in
Huebler’s work, was undiminished. He worked on the exhibition all summer and into the fall,
devising ways to tailor the information to the parameters of the catalogue.51
A general reference map of the United States printed in white with a black back-
ground was featured on the front and back covers of Douglas Huebler: November 1968 (fig. 3.3).
The catalogue’s dimensions (8 x 8 inches) and thinness gave it the appearance of a 45 rpm
record sleeve. It reproduced twelve of the fifteen works in the exhibition. Four of the new
works were untitled ink-on-paper drawings that combined descriptive language with graphic
signs and literal and referential facts, all locating lines and points in various spatial rela-
Huebler’s series of statements printed on the second page of the catalogue mani-
festly and programmatically elucidated the operation of the new, conceptualist work. “The
existence of each sculpture is documented by its documentation,” Huebler announced:
The documentation takes the form of photographs, maps, drawings and descriptive language. The
marker “material” and the shape described by the location of the markers have no special signifi-
cance, other than to demark the limits of the piece.
The permanence and destiny of the markers have no special significance.
The duration pieces exist only in the documentation of the marker’s destiny within a se-
lected period of time.
The proposal projects do not differ from the other pieces as idea, but do differ in the ex-
tent of their material substance.
Two contradictory currents run through these statements: one, literal and temporal, frames
the material limits of the works; the other, less tangible or material, demarcates the
ideational component. They parallel, respectively, the material and phenomenological as-
s, variables, an
3.3 Cover of Douglas Huebler: November 1968, 1968
pects of minimal art and the structuralist elements of the theory of conceptual art that Le-
Witt was beginning to articulate. Huebler’s current work fused these two paradigms. It fell
into three categories: “Location,” “Duration,” and “Variable.” The “Location Piece” Boston-New
York Exchange Shape, for example, included maps of the downtown areas of New York and
Boston, each with a superimposed hexagon. The hexagons defined the same dimension of
space in each city. At each of the six corners, Huebler designated a letter of the alphabet
(from A to F on the Boston map; A� to F� on the New York map). He typed a list of the specific
sites demarcated by the corners on an 81/2-x-11-inch sheet of paper and then traveled to each
site, where he placed a white, one-inch square sticker and made photographs. The docu-
mentation of the piece thus consisted of two maps with the hexagonal drawings and letters,
an 81/2-x-11-inch sheet of paper, and a number of photographs of each site (figs. 3.4–3.6). The
sculptural ideas remained abstract, manifested only in the mind of the person viewing the
The parameters of the work referred to in the catalogue as “Duration Pieces” were
formed by predetermined amounts of time, evoking the way Huebler’s “soulmate,” John Cage,
framed off four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence in his famous aleatory compo-
sition 4�33�, first performed by David Tudor in 1952.53 In contrast to Cage’s work, which
loomed large over much art of the 1960s, Huebler’s “Duration Pieces” depended on the docu-
mentation of the performance—the framework—rather than on the event itself. Real time
was suspended by the frame of Huebler’s documentary information, whereas in Cage’s piece
the actual passing of time was an integral component. In the twenty-four-minute Duration
Piece #2, a one-foot-wide line of sand was laid across a designated stretch of highway (Route
125, near Plaistow, New Hampshire). A series of twelve black-and-white photographs of the
disintegrating line of sand were then taken at two-minute intervals.54
This process of production, which employed the camera as a mere “duplicating de-
vice whose operator makes no ‘aesthetic’ decisions,” negated not only the competence of the
artist and the role of the author but also the notion that the photographs had any aesthetic
value.55 “I use the camera,” declared Huebler, “as a dumb copying device that only serves to
document whatever phenomena appear before it through the conditions set by a system. No
‘aesthetic’ choices are possible. Other people often make the photographs. It makes no dif-
ference.”56 Huebler’s mechanically executed photographs were anticipated by Warhol’s mid-
1960s practice of placing a film camera on a tripod, aiming it, turning it on, and walking away
from the stationary machine. Huebler’s schematic method of production similarly negated
s, variables, an
3.4 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968
3.5 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968
3.6 Douglas Huebler, Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 1968
the aesthetic decision-making process, and placed the artist’s role alongside that of the
equally passive spectator. Time figured as strongly in Warhol’s films as it did in Huebler’s “Du-
ration Pieces,” for which “a period of time is chosen and whatever happens to the situation is
documented.”57 Moreover, the fact that “other people often make the photographs” was in
line with Warhol’s mode of “factory” production in which others made the work for which he
would subsequently claim authorship.
The catalogue-exhibition also included one so-called “Variable Piece,” Variable Piece
#1 (fig. 3.7).58 As a scheme to be activated, the information presented by Variable Piece #1
evoked the participatory dimension of works such as Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in Six Parts
noted above, where the audience followed a predetermined script with instructions to ap-
plaud, remain seated, or change rooms at various times during the performance. This com-
mitment to audience participation became of paramount importance for Huebler, whose
activity continued to close the gap between the viewer and the artwork. But in contrast to
Kaprow’s happenings, Huebler’s work involved a dialogic relationship between instructions
and viewer participation.
The participatory nature of Huebler’s conceptual art was aided by the simplicity of
the scheme and by his ceding of artistic control over the process of production. The works
only came into existence when the beholder sorted out and activated the information pro-
vided. In this way Huebler’s work put into motion what Benjamin Buchloh, in a discussion of
the 1960s work of Andy Warhol, has termed a “bodily synecdoche,” especially insofar as they
“bring the viewer, almost literally, into the plane of visual representation . . . —a twentieth-
century avant-garde practice intended to instigate active identification of the viewer with the
representation, replacing the contemplative mode of aesthetic experience with an active
one.”59 As with Warhol’s Dance Diagrams and Do It Yourself paintings to which Buchloh refers,
Huebler’s work canceled all gesturality or expressivity on the part of the artist through its in-
sertion of a diagram, and its emphatic foregrounding of a predetermined scheme that pre-
cluded all subsequent decision-making and intuitive processes. In a fundamental shift of
authorial agency, the spectator now set the work (i.e., the documentary information: photo-
graphs, maps, schematic drawings, linguistic descriptions) in motion.60 As Huebler put it in
the catalogue for a show of 1970: “The subject of art is the percipient engaged in a self pro-
ducing activity that, itself, replaces appearance and becomes the virtual image of the work.”61
Huebler’s conceptual art broke, at least superficially, with a series of conventions
then central to high art practice. It dismantled the fixation on the centrality of the artist and
3.7 Douglas Huebler, Variable Piece #1, 1968
the coherence of the object that had been integral to late modernist art. The role of the artist
was now reduced to solely “pointing the direction,” as Huebler put it.62 “If I say too much
about my intentions,” he emphasized, “then I feel that might get in the way. The work itself
will have to stand independent of my hopes for it, which is, to have people make these iden-
tifications.”63 In addition, the unity of the work of art was dismantled into simple signs: maps,
photographs, descriptions, and information of various kinds. This fracturing was directly re-
lated to issues of distribution, exhibition, salability, and ownership. The art was thus per-
petually in process, the scene of a play of information and not, as in the most ambitious late
modernist work, “a vehicle of expression or feeling,” a carrier of humanistic content from the
artist to the viewer.64
Moreover, the very core of Huebler’s project was based on questions of signifying
and signification, of making and remaking meanings, analogous to models of language
where meaning is produced by structural relationships. The material signifiers could be
joined and parted in multiple ways in each and every viewing of the work. In this sense, the
operation of Huebler’s work shifted the focus to the play of the signifier and the practice of
signifying, more strongly and decisively than previously. The information presented was not
transparent; it could not be discarded for some represented presence. Rather, the concen-
tration was on the specificity of the material signifiers and the activity of their operation.65
Indeed, the works in themselves produced an effect of virtual undecidability. As presented,
they had to be assembled—an operation that Huebler implied when he explained to Lippard
that “the act of perceiving is what concerns me rather than what is perceived.”66 In this re-
spect, these works elicit the performative dimension of the spectator in the production of
meaning, calling on the observer, to paraphrase Barthes, to produce the work anew, to draw
its signifiers “into an unknown praxis.”67 If in the early to mid-1960s Huebler sought to undo
and outdo the late modernist paradigm of autonomy and duality, placing in its stead a phe-
nomenological paradigm of visual experience that emphasized the inextricable relation-
ships between bodily, perceptual, and temporal experience, the labyrinthine mesh of
information that comprised his post-1968 work generally displaced that phenomenological
model in favor of a structuralist paradigm of visual experience and signification.
Most striking of all, Huebler’s conceptual art was advanced as representative of a
shift away from artworks that assume their place in the traditional late modernist site of
privileged, high art experience, in favor of artworks that were capable of addressing and com-
municating with a broader audience. This was the gist of Huebler’s argument when he re-
marked in the spring of 1969 that he wanted “to suspend the notion that art is about muse-
ums and about all of the things that art has been about, . . . and open it up for more people.”68
For Huebler’s work to have access to a wider audience, its distribution form had to be dra-
matically altered as well, and this is where Siegelaub’s crucial and highly creative role in
their collaboration comes into sharper focus. If the work was to comprise secondary infor-
mation, then radically new strategies would have to be developed to sell, market, and exhibit
it. Along with these new methods came a parallel transformation in Siegelaub’s function,
changing from that of a dealer to “a consultant,” or “organizer,” of information.69 This trans-
formation is most clearly seen in Siegelaub’s response to the new work of Weiner and Barry.
s, variables, an
My work has no relationship to “I”, the work is presented out of context with me.
—Lawrence Weiner, 19691
Lawrence Weiner participated in the opening exhibition of Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art
(14 September–10 October 1964), and had one-person shows in each of the succeeding two
years that featured paintings from what has since come to be known as his Propeller series
(fig. 4.1).2 These paintings, which Weiner began in the early 1960s, were reminiscent of Jasper
Johns’s matrix structures of the 1950s. In a creative misreading of the latter’s Flag series,
Weiner problematized the artist’s decision-making process and frustrated critical attempts
to interpret artworks as stemming from the personal subjectivity of an exceptional, unique
sensibility. For both Weiner and Johns, separated by almost a decade, this strategy was part
of the broader move away from the mythologized rawness, spontaneity, and emotionalism
that characterized the work of the New York School.3 As with Huebler’s road maps or Kosuth’s
dictionary definitions, the scheme underlying the Propeller series—to choose a preestab-
the linguistic turn
4.1 Lawrence Weiner, installation of Propeller paintings at Seth Siegelaub Fine Arts,
10 November–5 December 1964
lished, immediately recognizable and reproducible format or image: the TV test pattern—re-
moved not only compositional decisions but also questions of self-definition, inspiration,
surprise, and expression. Like Johns, Weiner critiqued representational conventions and
travestied romantic ideas of subjectivity in contemporary painting. Weiner’s canvases dif-
fered from Johns’s in their suggestion that what constituted publicness in the newly emerg-
ing consumer society was not, as the Flag paintings implied, one’s national identity, but
rather one’s identification with the newly formed global network of electronic culture trans-
mitted and received through television. What I want to single out here is how similar
Weiner’s suggestion is to Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s observation that an utterly
new era had arrived: “Electric circularity has overthrown the regime of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and
pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men. It has reconstituted
dialogue on a global scale.”4
The Propeller paintings, with their restricted palette of colors, appropriation of the
propeller motif that figured in the TV test pattern, and thick black outlines, also engaged in
dialogue with another legacy of Johns’s painting: the depersonalized style of pop art. At the
time, Weiner’s canvases were stylistically compared to Roy Lichtenstein’s signature paintings
of cartoon explosions.5 Furthermore, as work that, like Kosuth’s, was posited as dealing “with
the idea of painting, rather than a painting,”6 Weiner’s canvases shared common ground with
Lichtenstein’s bright cartoon paintings, which were “concerned with an idea of something
rather than with something itself,” as Donald Judd noted in a review of the artist’s work.7
Whereas Lichtenstein had appropriated the popular imagery of comic books,
Weiner located mass-cultural imagery in the infinitely more pervasive medium of television.
Thus Weiner’s paintings had an unlikely kinship with Warhol’s pop art work. As with
Warhol’s photo-silkscreens of mass-cultural motifs (packaged commodities and celebrities
alike), Weiner’s use of the TV test pattern provided an abstract formulation that allowed un-
limited variations. Similarly to the work of Kosuth, whose own peculiar debt to Warhol has
already been addressed, Weiner’s Propeller paintings negated claims of uniqueness and priv-
ileged forms of experience. They suggested that the technological revolution of electronic
communication networks had fundamentally transformed the intimate communicative
function of art. “Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness [all-at-once-ness],” McLuhan
and Fiore wrote in their widely popular The Medium Is the Massage. “‘Time’ has ceased, ‘space’
has vanished. We now live in a global village . . . a simultaneous happening.”8
4.2 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1966
Further echoing Warhol’s photo-silkscreens, Weiner’s Propeller series evokes the
conditions of experience that were coming to characterize public life through television. “A
new form of ‘politics’ is emerging,” McLuhan and Fiore announced; “the living room has be-
come a voting booth. Participation via television . . . is changing everything.”9 Never before
had an age been so globally interconnected: “The instantaneous world of electric informa-
tional media involves all of us, all at once. No detachment or frame is possible.”10 According
to McLuhan and Fiore, the new media thus radically affected contemporary perceptions of
the global environment, and required entirely new analytical and conceptual processes. By
the early 1960s, Weiner’s work was drawing attention to the transformation of publics into
mass audiences. In evoking the TV viewer who, fed a steady stream of images and informa-
tion, became globally “plugged in” to other spectators, Weiner posited an active viewer for
his art, one who could engage dialogically in the co-production of meaning—a shift of focus
that prefigured Huebler’s later theorization of “the percipient.”11
D I S P L A C E M E N T S
Weiner’s first Removal paintings of 1966 continued to break down the hierarchical relation-
ship between art object and audience. On the surface, the works appeared profoundly dif-
ferent from the Propeller paintings. Evocative of Frank Stella’s Aluminum series of 1960 and
Robert Mangold’s shaped Areas of 1965–1966, the Removal paintings had a sculptural element:
a rectangular notch removed from one corner of the bottom framing edge of the canvas (fig.
4.2). Though the notches in these pictures represent only a small departure from the rec-
tangle in comparison to Weiner’s subsequent more significant displacements, they consti-
tute the beginning of this main line of development.
Unlike the Propeller series, the Removal paintings were not hand-painted but me-
chanically produced with a spray gun and compressor, an approach that negated the artist’s
expressive or decision-making processes and—in a way that paralleled pop and minimal
art’s critiques of subjectivity—lessened the role of handicraft and its attendant unpre-
dictable nature. For if the Removal paintings employed an industrial mode of production that
paralleled the factory fabrication practice of the minimalists, Warhol’s gambit of abandon-
ing manual production in favor of stenciling and silkscreening images onto canvases or ob-
jects also had an impact on Weiner. If the Propeller series problematized the autonomy of
painting in the pursuit of an art of the popular (in theory at least), paintings from the Removal
series steered this concern in the direction of an attack on the romantic notion of the inspired
artistic genius. As Weiner stated later, “The person who was receiving the painting would say
what size they wanted, what color they wanted, how big a removal they wanted.”12 The Pro-
peller paintings thus undermined their own authority by inviting and then incorporating that
of the viewer or, as the case may be, the patron. In this exchange among artist, art object, and
viewer the sense of a single authority or signatory dissolves altogether, placing the burden
of decision-making on the collector. To that extent, Weiner was still operating within a very
traditional model of patronage, complete with commissioned works and topics assigned to
The Removal paintings continued Weiner’s dialogue not only with Johns and pop art
but also with the contemporary work of Flavin and Andre, whose use of everyday manu-
factured components and materials (e.g., fluorescent light fixtures, firebricks, metal plates)
and shattering of the traditional division between virtual and real space (e.g., by inviting
the viewer to enter into or walk onto the work and experience it phenomenologically) had
begun to dismantle the myth of the privileged art object. Here, in this hybrid of contradictory
legacies that informed Weiner’s early work, were the elements that would soon evolve
into an artistic practice akin to Huebler’s, Kosuth’s, and, as we shall see below, Barry’s in the
Weiner’s Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, exhibited on the lawn of the Windham College
campus in Vermont in April and May 1968, was the artist’s most performative work to date
(figs. 4.3–4.4). It consisted of a 70 x 100-foot grid constructed of 510 yards of hemp twine
stapled onto thirty-four stakes hammered into the ground. A rectangular notch (10 x 20 feet)
was displaced from one corner. Six inches off the ground, the hemp was run the way sur-
veyors run string to measure parcels of land or structures. Despite the systematic layout and
the simple shape of the grid, it could not be seen from any direction in its entirety without
appearing as a trapezoid.
Similar to the way Andre, following Pollock’s horizontal painting process, over-
turned the traditional verticality of sculpture in favor of sculpture that would run along the
ground, Weiner collapsed the vertical plane of his Removal paintings into a horizontal to pro-
duce Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf. Placed on a field between two student dormitories, Staples,
Stakes, Twine, Turf beckoned the viewer to become physically involved, to confront the sculp-
ture directly by walking into the space it created. Analogously to the fusion of artwork and
viewer in happenings, Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf positioned the spectator in a corporeal rela-
4.3 Lawrence Weiner, Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–
31 May 1968
4.4 Lawrence Weiner, Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–
31 May, 1968
tionship with the structure.13 Also parallel to happenings was the ephemerality of the work,
which only existed for the duration of the event and was then destroyed.
Weiner’s development of a type of work that problematized the distinction between
the space of the artwork and that of the viewer, between designated performance areas and
ordinary life, also echoed manifestations in American dance such as those then being forged
by Ann Halprin in San Francisco, Merce Cunningham on the east coast, and the group of
dancers who formed the Judson Dance Theater (including Trisha Brown, Simone Forti, Debo-
rah Hay, Steve Paxton, and Yvonne Rainer) in New York.
The integration of spectator participation into the conceptual structure of the work
inevitably posed a series of problems and questions concerning the social functions of the
work, its imagined public, its actual audience, and its proper site. Unlike Huebler, whose con-
ceptual art followed Kaprow’s structure of determination, Weiner objected vehemently to
what he called “impositional art.” In an early 1969 interview, he stated that he was against all
forms of demand made by art: “I don’t approve of art that you cannot supposedly experience
unless you do prescribed things, because that’s choreography and, to me, really and truly is
T H E G E N E R A T I V E R O L E O F T H E T I T L E
Following the Removal paintings, Weiner turned to what was to be his final series of paintings.
These were typically produced following a highly mechanized fabrication process that, to a
greater extent than before, displaced creative control from the hands of the artist. The titles
of One Pint Gloss White Lacquer Poured Directly upon the Floor and Allowed to Dry, 1968, and Two
Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor from a Standard Aerosol Can, 1968, described in full
the materials and production procedure of the works. Employing a mechanical, anonymous
method of production in which a can of store-bought paint was emptied directly onto the
floor, Weiner dramatically reduced artistic decision-making, conscious control, and manual
production. Relying on chance and gravity as a substitute for artistic skill, this technique
allowed for greater depersonalization than even the highly dialogical Removal series. By elim-
inating the stretcher, canvas, and even the most reduced forms of organizational decisions
that went into the production of the Removal paintings (e.g., placing colored bands at the top
and at the bottom), Weiner erased traces of craftsmanship, skill, talent, and expression from
the process of pictorial execution.
The emphasis on the operation of chance and gravity, the abandonment of the
brush and therefore of the “touch” of the artist altogether, the specifications that the paint-
ing be produced on a horizontal plane, on the floor—all of these characteristics inevitably
linked works such as Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor from a Standard Aerosol
Can and One Pint Gloss White Lacquer Poured Directly upon the Floor and Allowed to Dry not to the
paintings of Stella and Mangold (as was the case with the Removal paintings), nor to the work
of Johns (like the earlier Propeller paintings), but to Jackson Pollock’s aleatory and gravity-
directed working procedure of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Yet, rather than prioritizing the
moment when the work physically materialized, as Pollock had ostensibly done, Weiner’s
new work emphasized the generative role of the title.15 The work was thus split into two dis-
tinct parts—one centered on the descriptive title, the other on the performance and its
residue. This was the last step before the object was erased from the operation altogether by
the growing importance of the linguistic utterance.
Of concern in Weiner’s shift from producing actual objects to textual definitions
was a reconfiguration of iconicity (in the form of linguistic structures) and an understanding
that, in order to transcend the privileged parameters of an elite, institutionalized bourgeois
culture, a work of art had to radically alter its mode of distribution. Weiner took a first step
in this direction when he exhibited a schematic, topographical drawing on graph paper, Turf,
Stake, and String, 1968, at the Dwan Gallery’s “Language II” show (25 May–22 June 1968) in New
York. The drawing did not indicate the materials illusionistically but linguistically, by way of
words written in a repetitive design. The framing edges identified thirty-four stakes, while
bands of string formed a grid charting sixty-eight squares. As with his earlier pieces, Weiner
removed a notch from the bottom left corner of the rectangular field. He inscribed the word
“string” on the framing edges of each square and “turf” in the center of the square. In con-
trast to the works of earlier that year, Weiner’s new approach, which will come to represent
another facet of conceptual art, insinuated that production was ultimately irrelevant to a
work of art.
A number of variations on Turf, Stake, and String followed in 1968. One, distributed
in the journal S.M.S., took the form of a large transparent sticker.16 For another, titled Six Ten
Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven into Floor at Indicated Terminal Points and dated 10
July 1968, Weiner marked on graph paper the spots in which six nails were to be inserted into
a floor, and drew lines connecting all of the nails to indicate the parameters of the piece (fig.
4.5). The framing edge of the topographical drawing echoed the slightly irregular picture
4.5 Lawrence Weiner, Six Ten Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven into Floor at
Indicated Terminal Points, 1968
fields of Weiner’s earlier Removal paintings: the rectangular field was three feet wide at the
top, four feet long on the left side, and three feet long on the right, with a one-foot-by-one-
foot notch removed from the bottom right corner. To the right of the schematic layout,
Weiner wrote the title in the form of instructions, specifying the materials involved (six ten-
penny common steel nails) and the process of production (nails to be driven into the floor at
indicated terminal points). In contrast to Turf, Stake, and String, where Weiner asyntactically
organized the words of the title to render a topographical map of the piece named, in Six Ten
Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven into Floor at Indicated Terminal Points he wrote the
title in standard syntactical form.
Six Ten Penny Common Steel Nails was the first in a series of works Weiner presented
as statements on graph paper. The layout of the new works became at once less designed
than his earlier production and more sophisticated. For One Hole in the Ground Approximately
One Foot by One Foot / One Gallon Waterbased White Paint Poured into This Hole, dated 23 August
1968, he inserted each letter of the title into one of the gridded units of the graph paper.
Words intercepted by the twenty-two-integer limit of the seven lines of graph continue in the
following line. The statement’s two sentences are not separated by a period—when the first
ends, the second begins on the line below it.17
Weiner’s One Hole in the Ground followed Six Ten Penny Steel Nails by only six weeks,
yet it was remarkably different and signaled the direction his work was to take in the fol-
lowing years. Conspicuously absent was the type of schematic drawing that accompanied Six
Ten Penny Steel Nails. The layout also differed. The most consequential difference, however,
was in the grammatical form of the statements. Whereas the earlier one used an elliptical
imperative implying some future action (“Nails to be driven into floor”), Weiner’s new work
adopted the past participle of actions completed.
Weiner formulated the parameters of the twenty-four pieces included in his first
catalogue-exhibition Statements, published in an edition of 1,025 in December 1968, in purely
linguistic terms and all in past participles. Typeset in small lower-case letters in Royal Type-
writer face, and placed halfway down the face of the right-hand pages, each statement pro-
saically described a simple, discrete action altering the physical environment. There were no
illustrations and no catalogue numbers. Rather, the works were divided equally into two
groups of twelve, one labeled “general statements,” as in “an amount of paint poured directly
upon the floor and allowed to dry,” and the other “specific statements,” as in “one aerosol can
of enamel sprayed to conclusion directly upon the floor.” Weiner made the distinction be-
tween general and specific according to the statement’s precise quantity and degree of de-
tail.18 The split between general and specific was part of his overall fascination with the “am-
biguity of language.” In a way that calls to mind the difference between the signified and the
referent, each of Weiner’s statements was polyvalent.19
Weiner had now, as it were, split the artistic sign. Rather than functioning as gen-
eral signs, presenting in one unit the physical art object and the conceptual information that
supplements and closes it, these statements formulated the works as enunciations. The se-
ries of declarations thus defined the work’s material structure linguistically and furnished
information about processes of production in the past participle. Weiner’s use of the past
participle in specific statements such as “One quart exterior green enamel thrown on a brick
wall” simultaneously allowed for the finality of the description and the prospect of future re-
alizations. He did not write, for example, “take a quart of exterior green enamel and throw it
at a brick wall,” for that would be “impositional.” Rather, he chose the past participle exclu-
sively. This, as he put it, inferred a greater egalitarianism: “To use the imperative would be
for me fascistic. . . . The tone of command is the tone of tyranny.”20
But one of the most extraordinary features of this type of artistic production was
that the work was equally meaningful whether performed or communicated linguistically as
a title. In effect, what Weiner had done was turn the art-making process into an endless se-
ries of inscriptions that reconceived the object quality of the work as a complex semantic
field—a text. Rather than a fixed locus, or function, serving to arrest the chain of secondary
information, the work now emphasized the entire practice of production, and the systematic
functioning of semiological mechanisms.21 The work, or object, was thus “liberated” or de-
territorialized from older coding systems. In this operation of fragmentation, where any part
of the entire production and exhibition process is part of the work, Weiner’s statements
shared with LeWitt’s and Huebler’s conceptual art a self-reflexive acknowledgment of
These 1968 works thus signal a moment of “decentering,” when the centered art ob-
ject had been driven from its locus as the primary point of reference. The result was a type
of art that was strictly about materials, about the material quality of the text, the brute fac-
ticity of the signifier, rather than any ideal meaning. It is clear that for Weiner by 1968 it did
not matter if his work lacked “meaning.” Its operation was nothing but graphic activity, a sort
of marking in which—à la nouveau roman—there was no signification and only description
involved. For the spectator, rather than decoding an elaborate semiotic system, the act of be-
holding now centered on contemplating the object’s construction, sequential organization,
temporal placement, and overall graphic pattern or design.22
Weiner’s emphasis on the transparency of execution accented the material con-
struction of his new, conceptualist work and further removed it from the realm of privileged
experience toward an egalitarian model of communication. With its negation of a hierarchi-
cal structure of meaning that might allow the social or class background of the viewer to de-
termine the reception of the work, all interpretations became equally valid. As Huebler
reminisced in a 1981 interview: “In those days, Larry Weiner talked to me saying, ‘The funny
thing is we’re doing some things that anybody can do. Our political posture—we’re gonna
bring down some of the dumb crap that’s going on in the art world—all those aesthetic
assumptions.’ And we brought it down, all right!”23 Weiner was not alone in believing that
leveling cultural and social barriers, addressing different publics than those traditionally
empowered through privilege (privilege in the sense of having not only the wherewithal but
also adequate knowledge to reflect on aesthetic experience), carried an edge of social and po-
litical criticism. There was a caustic vulgarity in his employment of language, as there was
in Huebler’s preference for vernacular maps, “dumb” photographs, and schematic layouts,
which, combined with compositional qualities of transparency, anonymity, and equality of
parts, carried an egalitarian dimension. Like Andre’s use of hay or Flavin’s of light fixtures,
Weiner and Huebler used vernacular materials as a counterpoint to the marketplace for rare
and precious works of art. Minimalism’s (and pop’s) claims that works of art should employ
the most common and accessible media in order to communicate better were now taken to
their logical conclusion.
Weiner intended his “Statement of Intent,” 1969, to function as a guideline for the
operation of his work:
1. The artist may construct the piece
2. The piece may be fabricated
3. The piece need not be built
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with
the receiver upon the condition of receivership.24
The statement points directly to several aspects of Weiner’s work of 1968: it decenters the
traditional role of the artist by placing equal responsibility for the production of the work
with a second party; it stresses the need to diminish the distance between making and be-
holding, transforming the passive spectator into an active producer of the artwork; it is di-
rected to any interested party, collector or otherwise, yielding an egalitarian method of art
production, distribution, and consumption.25 Implicit in Weiner’s statement is the claim that
works of art can never generate stable, noncontingent meanings, since visual and linguistic
proposals are always dialogically negotiated by the audience.
The first publication of the “Statement of Intent” was in the catalogue for the “Jan-
uary 5–31 1969” show organized by Siegelaub. This show also featured eight new pieces by
Weiner. Two of these were installed in the office space, while photographs of two others were
reprinted in the exhibition catalogue. The remaining four were presented linguistically, as
titles in the catalogue. In a quintessential example of the practice of deskilling adopted by
many artists during the late 1960s and early 1970s, on 4 January 1969, the day prior to the
show’s opening, Weiner performed An Amount of Bleach Poured on a Rug and Allowed to Bleach
by emptying a container filled with a gallon of bleach onto the horizontal plane of the gray
carpet in the temporary gallery space. The resulting discoloration of the gray carpet formed
an amoeba-like shape over an area approximately 3 x 7 feet. The work thus unambiguously
disclaimed skill, virtuosity, and privileged forms of artistic knowledge in the production of
art—very much in the same way that Huebler’s, Kosuth’s, and (as we shall see) Barry’s con-
ceptual art would disavow inherited notions of artistic competence.26
The other work Weiner installed in the temporary gallery space, A 36� x 36� Re-
moval to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall, 1968, best illustrated the
next step in the artist’s steady dismantling of traditional art media and the hallowed space
of the “white cube” (fig. 4.6).27 Insofar as the work cut into the support surface to remove a
section of the material skin of the supporting wall, it functioned as a relief, but in its sub-
version of traditional artistic genres (neither painting, nor sculpture, nor architecture) it in-
evitably generated a reflection on the categorical divisions and boundaries of media. In
addition, the empirical and critical operation of A 36� x 36� Removal, where all procedures
were immediately self-evident, was in many ways the ultimate response to the self-
reflexivity of late modernist painting. The insertion of A 36� x 36� Removal directly into the
gallery foregrounded the relationship between the work and its institutional frame or sup-
Weiner’s inversion of conventional practices of fabrication in his work of 1968
pushed LeWitt’s participatory model of conceptual art one step further. Although LeWitt
4.6 Lawrence Weiner, A 36� x 36� Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard
from a Wall, 1968, as installed in the exhibition “January 5–31, 1969”
called for a greater distinction between the manufacturing stage of the work and its artistic
value, he nevertheless maintained that the work should take physical form. By contrast, in
a way that is methodologically related to Huebler’s new work, one of the explicit conditions
of Weiner’s conceptual art was that it did not need to be built, and the decision whether to
actually give a piece physical form was left to the viewers, or, in Weiner’s terminology of the
time, the “receivers.” Such an activation of the receiver resulted directly from the eclipse of
the authorial figure of the artist.28
Weiner’s conceptualist work thus joined Kosuth’s and Huebler’s in dismantling the
conventional idealization of the artist as that person who, on the basis of a craftsmanlike
maintenance of traditional skills, emblematized the unity of the psyche, society, and culture
based on the synthesis of physical, mental, spiritual, and technical work. Instead, Weiner,
Huebler, and Kosuth simply claimed value for their work by the mental labor of artistic de-
velopment that led to its design, while deeming the physical labor of inserting a readymade
text as a newspaper advertisement, taking a photograph, or emptying an aerosol can of spray
paint directly onto the floor to be of secondary importance. In the process, these artists repli-
cated not only capitalism’s division of mental and physical labor, but also its privileging of
the planning and design stage of production over the procedure of construction. The es-
trangement that these works inevitably generated on their initial reception only further
emphasized the unspoken sacrosanct and mythical roles art continued to play well into the
In drawing the next logical inference from the work of Andre and Flavin, Weiner,
Kosuth, and Huebler joined Graham and Lozano in presenting one of the most radical cri-
tiques of the commodity status of art in the twentieth century. Whether executed in a me-
chanical manner (as by Weiner), or taking form purely as information (as in Kosuth’s Second
Investigation or Huebler’s road trips), there was little to prevent anyone interested in these
works from producing exact replicas, or tearing them out of the newspapers or catalogue-
exhibitions in which they were situated.29 Unlike the classical late modernist works, carefully
differentiated from everything around them (not only their physical but also their informa-
tional context), Weiner’s new production, as much as Kosuth’s and Huebler’s, acknowledged
its participation in the heterogeneous fabric of what was then the art world. This expansion
of aesthetic experience also characterized Robert Barry’s conceptual art, to which we shall
This page intentionally left blank
How do you present an art that can’t be photographed in magazines devoted to color
reproductions and things like that?
—Robert Barry, 19691
If Huebler, Kosuth, and Weiner presented Siegelaub with bodies of work that required new
display and marketing techniques, the work of Robert Barry manifested an even greater chal-
lenge, since it ultimately comprised an art entirely devoid of materiality. Barry’s first exhibi-
tion in New York was in a show of 1964, “Eight Young Artists,” organized by Eugene Goossen
at the Hudson River Museum, where Barry exhibited a series of nonrepresentational geo-
metrical paintings clearly related to the work of Barnett Newman.2 The impersonal, quasi-
symmetrical quality of the latter’s pictures found resonance in Barry’s paintings of the 1960s,
as would Newman’s emphasis on succinct immediacy and his willfully naive technique. The
work of Ad Reinhardt had also captivated Barry, as it had Kosuth. The austerity of Reinhardt’s
pictorial operations had an obviously enormous impact on Barry’s own painterly practice.
Other aspects of Reinhardt’s paintings of the 1960s would also reverberate in the younger
painter’s work: their geometrical surface patterns, biaxial symmetry, and extreme reduction
of visual incident would inform Barry’s artistic development.
Barry’s early paintings were either large or very small, usually perfectly square can-
vases, with flat, monochrome fields of color over gesso-white grounds. He would construct a
grid pattern by leaving unpainted rows of small squares or spots, often in biaxial arrange-
ments of four but sometimes with many more (fig. 5.1). In structural and morphological
terms, the small squares, approximately the size of a painter’s brush, oscillated between
hovering over and emerging from under the field of color, and thereby collapsed the tradi-
tional hierarchy of figure and ground to an almost equal balance. The canvases presented a
simultaneity of figure-ground structures that could not be disentangled one from the other.
Further, Barry painted the governing grid pattern freehand; as the critic Elisabeth Stevens ob-
served in reviewing Barry’s first one-person exhibition in 1964: “He is uninterested in place-
ment (the rows of squares are slightly uneven) and with minor variations in shape and color
(the squares are not straight edged, the dots may vary slightly in tone).”3 None of the variety
in this extremely reduced graphic operation was planned. Although this approach repre-
sented no conscious artistic decision, the cumulative effect reflected an insistence upon the
importance of the conception of the picture, as opposed to the refinements of its execution.
Barry’s next series of paintings maintained the extreme simplicity of his earlier
work, but instead of single canvases it consisted of multiple units. Green Line, 1966, was
among the most powerful of these works. First exhibited in Lawrence Alloway’s 1966 show
“Systemic Painting” at the Guggenheim Museum, Green Line was a lateral configuration of
three small panels, each just under three feet square. The canvases were unsized, and the
one in the center of the configuration was left raw, without the slightest application of paint.
Veering horizontally across the center of the two outer pieces of the triptych, a green band,
approximately two inches thick, bisected the field. The band paralleled the top and bottom
of the square picture support edge and continued around the framing edge on the side of the
two canvases bordering the central unprimed panel. The band radiated out from the center
of the tripartite composition, stopping just short of the outer edge of the field. Thus, these
paintings reject the gesturality that characterized the work of many first-generation New
York School artists. As Alloway explained in an article written to supplement the “Systemic
Painting” show, painters such as Barry
5.1 Robert Barry, installation of paintings at Westerly Gallery, New York, 1964
work with a clear sight of an end state. Abstract Expressionists were supposed never to know when
a painting was finished, but in systemic painting the concept with which the artist starts has a pre-
dictive value, controlling the work’s future. This does not mean that no modifications are made dur-
ing work, of course, but it does keep these changes to a proportionate relation to the whole.4
For Alloway, Barry’s work, “arranged or conducted according to a system, plan or organized
method,” resonated with the procedure of production that LeWitt employed in his serial sys-
tems of the mid-1960s.5 As LeWitt remarked in an early interview: “I sort of discovered a
method of doing a thing with sort of an absolute control, which was mechanistic enough so
that I wouldn’t have to decide each time what tonality to make a thing because starting with
the kinds of system that I was using . . . everything was decided ahead of time.”6 In other
words, LeWitt determined a matrix principle in advance, before he started the composition,
and subjected all subsequent operations to that principle. Similarly the serial relationship
operative in Barry’s works such as Green Line implied a principle of contiguity among the pan-
els that, once established, could be infinitely extended “one after the other.”
Before the “Systemic” show closed, Barry began a series of paintings that pushed
the parameters of his art practice further toward relief sculpture. These canvases mark a
crucial step toward the more explicitly sculptural activities he was to undertake in the fol-
lowing years. In Orange Edges, 1966, for example, he abutted two five-foot-square panels lat-
erally to make a five-by-ten-foot rectangle.7 The cotton-duck canvas stretched across the
panels was left unsized. The picture’s only articulation consisted of vertical bands that
reached from top to bottom of the field, exactly parallel to the sides of the framing edge, in a
way that recalls the configuration of Newman’s paintings. Barry placed these two-inch-thick
vertical bands, painted bright orange, at the border that delimited the large rectangle. Unlike
the geometrical rigidity of such diverse hard-edge painters as Kenneth Noland and Bridget
Riley, Barry’s freehand thin vertical bands revealed the tracking of the brush. The bands be-
gan about two inches from the bottom (or top) edge and traversed the entire surface, stop-
ping approximately two inches short of the opposite end of the field. The two bands also
carried over a couple of inches onto the side of the canvas frame. Mounted on a three-inch-
deep stretcher that set the picture clearly off from the wall, with the two bands extending
beyond the frame of the rectangular field and onto the vertical sides of the framing edge, Or-
ange Edges could be considered more a relief structure than a painting. Curator Eugene
Goossen succinctly described this development in his introduction to a show of 1966 that
featured Orange Edges: “Barry is pushing his art farther to the edge of the painting-sculpture
struggle. . . . By lapping the ends of his canvases with color he is beginning to ask us to see
them in the round. He is certainly dealing with the literal as well as lateral space.”8
Goossen’s invocation of “literal” and “lateral” space was a barely coded reference to
the deep stretchers and geometrical surface pattern of Stella’s early paintings, then under-
stood to advocate literal (as opposed to illusionistic or actual) space, and to Judd’s multipart
configurations, which in the mid-1960s were typically arranged laterally in space.9 In late
1966, Barry participated in a group show in a small New York gallery where he exhibited a
small drawing on grayish-purple construction paper.10 In each of the four corners of the field
he drew four small squares in pencil, located roughly an inch from each corner and recapit-
ulating its right angle. This was a preparatory drawing for a series of paintings on which Barry
was then working, in which he symmetrically placed small colored squares in the four cor-
ners of a canvas surface. Because the pattern was biaxially symmetrical (and thus extend-
able by continuing it radially on all four sides), the center field remained the focal point of
these compositions. Weiner saw the show and praised Barry’s piece to Siegelaub, and in early
1967 the latter called Barry and asked to visit his studio on Grand Street in the Bowery in or-
der to see more of his work.11
Their business relationship began as something between a professional associa-
tion and a collaboration. Siegelaub explained his operation to Barry—the use of his Madison
Avenue apartment as a gallery, the nightly socializing at Max’s Kansas City and other clubs,
the weekend soirées at his place, the informal relationship with collectors—and offered to
represent his work. But rather than merely a dealer, Siegelaub now saw himself more as a
collaborator, involved in a common enterprise with the artists, not necessarily in the mak-
ing of the work but in its presentation.12
As he did with the other artists he represented, Siegelaub offered Barry sales and
publicity. He envisioned that the volume of sales would increase with the greater familiarity
of his small stable of artists. In the meantime, he advanced the artists small stipends—in ex-
change for art—to help them with their rent and materials. Barry was then without a gallery
and in search of a dealer to represent his work; he was evidently impressed by Siegelaub’s en-
trepreneurial spirit and agreed to work with him—informally, however, since no contracts
were ever signed.
7D E L I M I T I N G T H E F R A M E
The parameters of Barry’s art expanded dramatically when he began to work with Siegelaub.
In early 1968, the artist exhibited three untitled paintings, all acrylic on canvas, in the show
Siegelaub organized at the Laura Knott Gallery of Bradford Junior College. One of these, a
green monochrome (481/2 x 12 inches), was affixed to the gallery wall only a few inches from
the floor. “You have to look down on it,” Barry explained during the accompanying sympo-
sium. “It sort of forces you to examine the area around it. The fact that the panel is very small
makes it difficult just to concentrate on it and demands that you concentrate on the area
around the panel as well.”13 Rather than providing an image, or a representation, he used the
painting’s size and position to negate its status as a discrete object within a relatively spe-
cialized realm of privileged knowledge, revising and reconsidering painterly production in
terms of its potential communicability.
Barry’s work extended minimal art’s presuppositions as much as it negated them.
We get a glimpse of this development in the environmental sculptures he began to produce
in 1967. These were comprised of four plaster or wooden cubes arranged equidistantly to
mark the corners of a square; when Barry first assembled these sculptures he predetermined
the precise length of the space between them, and thus the size of the square (fig. 5.2).14 But
soon he adjusted the blocks to the contingencies of their specific place and location, so that
they delineated a square roughly coincident with the size of the room.15 The work thus be-
came increasingly site specific, requiring the viewer to move through the space in which it
was assembled in order to understand its structure.
The integration of architectural references into these sculptures addressed the
contingency of their relation not only to the environment in which they were exhibited but
also to the phenomenological experience of the beholder. In this way Barry negated the tra-
ditional separation between art object, context, and viewer by requiring the viewer to phys-
ically enter the precinct of the art work. In contrast to the late modernist emphasis on
disembodied experience, which Michael Fried termed “opticality,” Barry’s sculptures posit the
inseparability of visual and bodily perception. By providing the viewer with what Robert Mor-
ris referred to as a “preestablished visual ‘gestalt’,” Barry made the works fully apparent at
first encounter, thereby granting the viewer a greater degree of autonomy than did his paint-
ings of the mid-1960s.16 Rather than revealing secrets or providing access to unknown forms
5.2 Robert Barry, Untitled, 1967–1968
of experience, his new work offered models with which to exercise the viewer’s cognitive and
Barry’s rejection of modern art’s pretension to embody higher moral values was in-
tricately and complexly related to the revision of author-viewer-object relationships that
characterized much ambitious art of the 1960s. During this period, meaning came to be
holistically constituted by the triad of object, site, and spectator.17 As with the conceptualist
work of Huebler and Weiner, Barry’s sculptures depended on the perception of the viewer for
completion. Refusing to fetishize a single, centered “moment,” he produced works that came
together as constellations in relation to environmental contingencies and the viewer’s move-
ment through space, and necessarily lost their significance with the termination of the
The other two paintings Barry exhibited at the Laura Knott Gallery employed a sim-
ilar structural model of contingency and contextuality. One, dated August 1967, consisted of
two monochrome blue squares of canvas, each wrapped around an 8 x 8-inch wooden
stretcher. The squares were fastened to the wall five feet from the ground, ten feet apart.
They were thus separate but related, distinct but of a piece, questioning once again all tradi-
tional definitions of painting, sculpture, and relief objects. The other painting, dated October
1967, comprised four 3 x 3-inch squares of stretched canvas painted yellow and fastened to
the white wall to form the corners of a 5 x 5-foot-square field, approximately the size of a
conventional picture (fig. 5.3). The space of the painterly object and the space of the wall
were fused as an inseparable entity. Although the configuration of squares functioned to
make the center field the focal point, the biaxial symmetry of these pieces could be extended
by continuing the pattern radially from the center of the picture.18
Barry’s paintings also introduced an element that went beyond the pictorial tradi-
tions that he was critiquing. Their placement on the gallery wall structurally related the
paintings to their support surfaces. Because the architectural container was integral to the
operation of the paintings, the latter prompted additional reflection on the privileged im-
portance of the gallery or museum context for pictorial objects.19 In short, what Barry pro-
duced were quintessentially incomplete objects, fragmented not only in the sense that they
were literally in pieces, but also in that they did not claim an autonomous pictorial space but
were clearly constituted within the dialogical relationship of pictorial and architectural sur-
faces. Thus Barry’s work challenged late modernist ideas of autonomous art objects and neu-
tral exhibition contexts.
5.3 Robert Barry, Untitled, 1967
A W A Y F R O M T H E V I S U A L
As the concept of place grew in importance for Barry, he started to make more sculpture. At
Windham College he installed 1,206 feet of one-quarter-inch woven nylon cord strung tight
approximately twenty-six feet off the ground between two main campus buildings (the li-
brary and the student union building), which were approximately three hundred feet apart
(fig. 5.4). The nylon monofilament was meshed together to span a huge, 302 x 50-foot area,
linking the buildings and framing the space in between. The transparency of the monofila-
ment rendered the work virtually invisible.
There are a number of connections between Barry’s untitled sculpture at Windham
College and the paintings he exhibited at the Laura Knott Gallery. The Windham College in-
stallation engaged the viewer in a continuous phenomenological looping that is an extension
of the open visual field he introduced at Bradford College. The newer work was structurally
dependent on its relationship to the viewer’s body movement and its position and placement
within the architectural surround. The work at both exhibitions maintained a dialogical re-
lationship between its specific material and its support surface, engaging “the idea of span-
ning a space, trying to define the outer limits, somehow bridging that inbetweeness,” as Barry
explained in a later interview.20 This attempt to define the outer limits of the composition is
also evidenced by the way the work in both exhibitions accentuated structural parameters.
Barry’s installation at Windham College pushed the transition from visuality to
phenomenological experience further than any of his previous work. In opposition to the late
modernist concept of pure opticality, the new work reembodied vision, emphasizing the in-
extricable relationship between seeing and touching as much as between seeing and moving
through space. More than just its architectural support, the installation also integrated a
temporal element: it responded to the periodic changes that naturally occurred in the out-
door environment. Transparent during the day, the nylon cord obliquely reflected the space
in which it was placed in the evening, taking on an orange hue at sunset and an even darker
color as night progressed.
The size of Barry’s installation, as with Andre’s Joint and Weiner’s Staples, Stakes,
Twine, Turf, made it impossible to see the entire work from any one location. “I was dealing
with space rather than the object itself,” Barry recalled. “It became more and more clear that
they were almost undistinguishable, I thought. Space became place.”21 The paintings Barry
exhibited at the Laura Knott Gallery, which seemed to fuse with the wall, already effected the
5.4 Robert Barry, Untitled, as installed at Windham College, 30 April–31 May 1968
transformation of space to place, but this feature found its earliest concretization in his
filmic practice of 1967.
Barry’s films characteristically fused with the specific site where they were pro-
jected, integrating the darkness of the space and the whirring of the film projector within
their formal makeup. A case in point is Scenes, 1967, a five-minute-long, 16 mm production
that premiered at a film festival at Hunter College organized by Hollis Frampton, Michael
Snow, and Robert Huot in 1967. Made almost entirely with black opaque leader, Scenes
negates the filmic and visual, accenting instead the environment in which it is projected. For
most of the silent film’s duration the opaque leader entirely blackens out the screen; not even
the cinematic rectangle is visible. Flashes of movement, lasting for barely a second each, are
interspersed throughout the film. At one moment the camera pans across a cluster of
bushes, at another across a street scene. Occasionally, words flash on the screen for a couple
of seconds. But for the most part the film is black monochrome, ending with a clear leader
running through the projector for a minute or so.22 It is highly self-reflexive in its operation,
referring to its own unique characteristics. At the same time, Scenes calls attention to the ex-
perience of viewing: accenting characteristics of conventional contexts for film viewing. In-
sofar as it assimilates various nondiegetic elements originating from sources outside the
frame, including the operation of the projector and the disturbed movements and muttering
of the audience, Scenes evokes the legacy of John Cage. The piece is thereby as “concerned
with what goes on inside the frame” as with what goes on “outside the frame” of the artistic
idea, both visually and audially, as Barry commented at the Bradford symposium.23 As the
artwork transgresses the frame of the composition and connects to its audience, the latter
in turn shift from a constituency of passive receivers to one of active producers of the work.24
Unlike Barry’s films, his Windham College installation was not temporally delim-
ited by its own inherent structure. Like Andre’s Joint and Weiner’s Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf,
the sculpture was permanent but ephemeral, remaining in place after the show to be dis-
mantled by natural elements. Here is the way Barry put it at the Windham symposium: “I
consider the work both finished and constantly unfinished. It’s finished for me when I leave
the College, and yet it will keep growing; as the campus changes the work will be completely
different.”25 The installation, in other words, is perpetually incomplete, dialogically deter-
mined by the local and temporal context. This shift from an art that in its finitude tran-
scended history and remained in the perpetual present to one that admitted its historicity
and temporal dimension was to have a profound effect not only on Barry’s work but also on
advanced art in general in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
At stake in Barry’s negation of the visual dimension was the issue of visuality as an
element in the conception of the artwork. This approach temporalized vision and established
a clearly conscious and self-conscious approach to the experience of viewing. In this sense,
Barry pushed beyond the threshold of minimal sculpture, which, in spite of its explicit in-
corporation of phenomenological experience into the object’s perception, ultimately privi-
leged visuality. Barry thus joined the other artists associated with Siegelaub in 1968 in
dismantling the visual as the highest form of experience. The obvious problem was that it
was precisely the visual element that the market required, which clearly posed new chal-
lenges for Siegelaub, not only in exhibiting but also in selling this new work.
Following the Windham show, Barry went even further in denying the kind of
pleasure that the visual arts customarily provide. His work changed extraordinarily, taking
the nearly invisible character of the nylon cord exhibited at Windham to greater extremes.
Drawing the next logical inference from Yves Klein’s “exhibition of the void” at the Iris Clert
Gallery in Paris a decade earlier, Barry now took electrical currents of varying strength emit-
ted by radio transmitters as his material.26 The work’s negation of the visual was coupled
with an increased emphasis on the role of the body of the beholder. “The nature of carrier
waves in a room—especially the FM—is affected by people,” Barry stated at the time, in terms
that reveal the extent to which he envisioned the viewer’s active participation in his work.
“The body itself, as you know, is an electrical device. Like a radio or an electric shaver it af-
fects carrier waves. . . . [Thus] the form of a piece is affected [by the people near it] because
of the nature of the material that it is made of.”27
Barry also increased the emphasis on the autonomy of the viewer, and the viewer’s
role in the perception of the work. “An interested person,” he remarked, “reacts in a personal
way based on his own experience and imagination.”28 As he inscribed the viewer even more
literally into the interaction among the perceiving body, carrier wave structure, and archi-
tectural structure, the contextual nature of aesthetic meaning increasingly surfaced. The
carrier wave installations implied that the aesthetic operation was determined not just by
the relationship between the human body and the art object, but also by that between the
body, the artwork, and the site—the field—where artistic experience is produced. Barry’s
work thus moved beyond his earlier production toward an engagement with context that
would increasingly dominate the art of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Similar to his piece for the Windham show, two of the works that Barry included in
Siegelaub’s “January 5–31, 1969” exhibition employed thin wire stretched so high above the
ground that it was virtually impossible to see.29 Five other pieces took the form of installa-
tions of sound and carrier waves. One, New York to Luxembourg CB Carrier Wave, January 5–31,
1969, made use of the carrier wave of a citizens band transmitter to bridge two distant points,
one in New York City and the other in Luxembourg, several times during the run of the show.
For this work Barry researched the position of the sun and atmospheric conditions during the
month of January to determine the most efficient way to construct the piece. But here the
carrier wave was used “as an object,” rather than in its conventional function as a means by
which to transmit information.30 For Barry, this medium was rich in potential: “Ultrasonic
sound waves have different qualities from ordinary sound waves. They can be directed like
a beam and they bounce back from a wall. Actually you can make invisible patterns and de-
signs with them. They can be diagrammed and measured.”31 And as with his other sound and
carrier wave installations, the only visible trace of New York to Luxembourg CB Carrier Wave,
January 5–31, 1969 was the equipment—transmitter, oscillator, batteries—required to con-
struct the work, equipment that was carefully kept out of sight.32
Barry installed two carrier wave pieces, 88 mc Carrier Wave (FM) and 1600 kc Carrier
Wave (AM), in the office space during the “January 5–31, 1969” show (fig. 5.5). Turned on every
morning and off at the end of the day, the transmitters and batteries were hidden in an office
closet. The electromagnetic waves were not only formally unstable, defying formal identifi-
cation, but also undetectable by ordinary sensory means. Two wall labels provided the only
indication of the presence of carrier waves traveling at the speed of light a few feet from the
ceiling. Although the waves could be detected with the use of a common transistor radio, the
unlikeliness of the beholder performing this task meant that he or she had to take the artist’s
claims on faith. Unlike the conceptual art of Weiner and Huebler, Barry’s new work still ad-
mitted a distinct separation between primary and secondary information: the wall labels re-
ferred to something else that was indeed taking place. At the same time, the carrier waves
were affected by the physical presence of people in the room in which they were installed.
Hence, the works no longer operated according to the older binary oppositions. Material along
with its progressive attenuation no longer posited the nonbody as its opposite.
It is customary to emphasize the importance in Barry’s work of the idea, the con-
cept. But insofar as he did not in any way alter or dilute the natural qualities of the particu-
lar materials that made up the components of his work—electromagnetic fields, ultrasonic
5.5 Robert Barry, 88 mc Carrier Wave (FM), 1968; and 1600 kc
Carrier Wave (AM), 1968, as installed in “January 5–31, 1969”
sound, radio waves, radiations—it suggests further analogies with the sheer materiality of
Andre’s previous work. Indeed, Andre’s selection of materials from the standard periodic table
of the elements was the direct precursor of Barry’s use of substances such as barium. What is
more, Andre’s claim that the checkerboard arrangements of metal plates that characterized
much of his late 1960s sculpture should be thought of as supporting “a column of air that ex-
tends to the top of the atmosphere” underlay the common interests of the two artists.33
More generally, Barry’s work took some of what he understood as the key tenden-
cies within the formation of minimal art—removing representation, eliminating visual inci-
dent, withholding or withdrawing perceptual information from the artistic object—to their
logical extreme, rejecting the simple materiality of minimal art in favor of a materiality ex-
isting concretely beyond the reach of human perception. The steady withdrawal of percep-
tual data that characterized Barry’s late 1960s work was in tandem with the reductivism of
ambitious art practices in the preceding several years—a route that proceeded from self-
sufficient objects to site-specific installations visible in the gallery space, and ultimately to
invisible site-specific work. The advent of an art whose material vehicle is imperceptible by
ordinary sensory means meant that the cognitive emphasis of the work was extended in the
direction of its conceptual content. This raised a broad range of questions concerning the na-
ture of artistic practice, as well as tacitly accepted conventions such as the high level of trust
placed on artists.
Like that of others represented by Siegelaub, Barry’s work was no longer posited as
autonomous, rounded, and whole—as a full-fledged aesthetic experience held perpetually
present for the viewer to behold and decode—but rather as dialogically engaged with its his-
toricity, context, and temporality. The resulting artistic operations were contingent and
shifted according to context. Furthermore, the highly imperceptible nature of Barry’s con-
ceptualist work increased the importance of the art’s mode of presentation, or, as Siegelaub
would phrase it, its secondary information. The latter now became a necessary framing de-
vice for the essence of the piece.
The opening up of these parameters, complete with the use of unconventional ma-
terials and the problematization of the traditional boundaries of art, confused many in the
contemporary art world. But this type of artistic investigation at the borderline between art
materials, objects, and structures on the one hand, and the conventional sites and parame-
ters of the defining institutions of art on the other, would soon go beyond the established lim-
I M P E R C E P T I B L E S I G N S
An art that devalued immediate visual experience and presented contingent and shifting in-
teractions posed significant marketing problems for Siegelaub. In response, he devised a
number of schemes to advertise the new and highly ambitious art. Although the work pro-
duced remained virtually unsalable, his strategy was to broadly publicize the artist’s activi-
ties and reputation. A case in point is the show of Barry’s work Siegelaub presented in Los
Angeles in April 1969. Sponsored by a local art patron, Stanley Grinstein, Barry traveled to
southern California in early March and released various measured volumes of inert gases
into the atmosphere.34 Once released, the gases naturally expanded and dispersed while
maintaining their chemical integrity.35 Accordingly, Barry’s Inert Gas series foregrounded the
procedural as much as the innate forces of matter as the determining morphological and
structural aspect of sculptural work. Since the inert gas is not only formally unstable but also
invisible, the photographs Barry took of the site in the Mohave Desert occupied by the gas
represented nothing more than desert landscapes (fig. 5.6). Paradoxically, then, Barry made
the photographs to deny the existence of visual evidence.36
More than just the act of breaking containers and releasing gas, Barry’s Inert Gas
pieces encompassed the development of the idea of gas expanding into the atmosphere, the
calling attention to that notion, and the natural consequences and material residue of the
act of releasing the gas—each of which was a stage in a semiological chain of signifiers for
which the signified (the primary information, the “art”) was intangible and abstract. A vital
part of that chain was the practice of presenting this work to an audience, thereby making
Siegelaub once again a key collaborator.
The show was widely publicized in the form of a 30 x 45-inch poster, which Siegelaub
sent by mail to a long list of people and institutions.37 A single line of text ran along the bottom
of the monochrome sheet: “ROBERT BARRY/INERT GAS SERIES/HELIUM, NEON, ARGON,
KRYPTON, XENON/ FROM A MEASURED VOLUME TO INDEFINITE EXPANSION/ APRIL 1969/
SETH SIEGELAUB, 6000 SUNSET BOULEVARD, HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, 90028/213 HO 4-
8383.” The address was a post office box in Los Angeles, and the answering service voice mes-
sage on the telephone described the piece. The exhibition was therefore split between Barry’s
action (virtually inaccessible) and an ephemeral audial recording; the only visual public man-
ifestation of the Inert Gas piece was located on the publicity poster in the form of language. The
exhibition was accessible to the public solely in the form of advertising, as pure sign.
5.6 Robert Barry, Inert Gas Series: Helium, 1969
This collaboration reflects the striking parallels between Siegelaub’s strategy for
disseminating works of art and advanced forms of product management and advertising
during the late 1960s. Similar to Siegelaub’s practice of distributing works of art through
posters and catalogues to a wide array of critics and potential patrons, vanguard advertising
in the 1960s distributed free samples along with product information, creating needs and de-
sires in advance of the consumer’s awareness of them.38 Just as advertising transfigures ob-
ject forms (use value) and commodity forms (exchange value) into sign values, Siegelaub
developed a merchandising practice whereby, in lieu of the aesthetic object, the only visible
aspect of the work was a certificate of authenticity and ownership on a piece of paper. This
practice, in which the economic is transfigured into sign systems and economic power be-
comes visibly transformed into the trappings of social privilege, is essentially a crystalliza-
tion of the phenomenon of sign exchange value.39
There is a further parallel between this work and the general tendency in the 1960s
of the advertising and communications sectors to take predominance over production in
Western industrialized society. The 1960s ideology heralding a postindustrial, non-object
society made growth sectors of the spheres of communication and cultural activity. From
this perspective, the work of the artists associated with Siegelaub was part of that propen-
sity toward ephemerality and the increasingly rapid dissemination of ideas characteristic of
In this transition, Siegelaub’s question about framing conditions, which he posed
following the Windham College show, found an answer. In the information society, the world
is the frame. Art, in these conditions, has the potential of being “received” (as Weiner would
put it) by millions of people at the same time, without a hierarchy of reception. Here, then,
we have reached Baudrillard’s “xerox-degree of culture,” where the proliferation of art di-
alectically turns into its opposite, as art is pushed to the threshold of its own disappearance.40
Also overturned in the process, Baudrillard observes, are evaluative criteria.41 Indeed, there
is a striking parallel between Baudrillard’s observations, made in 1988 in a reconsideration of
the 1960s art of Andy Warhol, and the criticism leveled against conceptual art in the years
of its emergence. For the huge proliferation of art—and especially the potential expansion of
audiences for art—made the prospect of devising adequate criteria of evaluation impossible,
and in the late 1960s that impossibility shocked the critical art establishment. “Who needs
criticism, if anything can be art?” asked Barbara Rose in an essay written in the pivotal early
months of 1969:
Mass literacy, media participation in the arts, and affluence in general have all helped to enlarge the
art public. The development of such democracy in art has in turn created a situation in which the
public resents value judgments imposed from above by so-called “authorities” who in the long run
can muster no more impressive credentials than that they look at art a lot. Public hostility to the
standard-setting and taste-making role of criticism is nothing, of course, compared with the con-
tempt of the increasing population of artists on the scene, who see the critic as the enemy who stands
between themselves and success. The notion that everybody’s taste is equal and that no one, in-
cluding the critic, has the authority to impose a subjective view is common not only to the general
public but to large sectors of the art world itself. . . . If, however, there are no value judgments to be
made, if one art work is just as good as another, then one work is ‘worth’—literally, in dollars and
cents terms—as much as another. This is briefly the situation many young artists, disenchanted
with the commercialism of the art world, are trying to bring about. Their revolt against critical au-
thority must be seen in the same context as all the other revolts among the young against institu-
tional authority of all kinds. . . . Artists are denying the notion of intrinsic quality in art in order to
challenge the authority of criticism and of the market apparatus, in which the critic is the crucial
value setting factor.42
Rose here claimed to be speaking from a detached position that sought to uphold
standards of value and taste. She defused the new artists’ “revolt against critical authority,”
normalizing it as a typical oedipal struggle of youth against authority. What was really at stake,
however, was Rose’s own diminished role as a critic and arbiter of taste in a milieu that was in-
creasingly regulated by “dealers, collectors and exhibitions.”43 It was precisely between those
two spheres of influence—that of the critic and that of the dealer-collector-exhibition nexus—
that Siegelaub sought to insert himself, forging his identity as a “consultant” or “facilitator”
through highly innovative exhibition and distribution practices that were attentive to the rad-
ical contingency and implicit critique against authority at play in much of the new art.
B E Y O N D T H E I N V I S I B L E
The exhibitions that Siegelaub organized in late 1968 and early 1969 questioned conven-
tions of visuality and supplied basic models for more egalitarian forms of interaction. As-
pects of fragmentation and discontinuity operative in this work constituted less formal
investigation into the ephemerality of an art object than a refusal to provide the kind of
stable aesthetic value required by institutional forms of art. Many ambitious works of the
earlier 1960s (Warhol’s soup cans, Judd’s boxes, Flavin’s light fixtures, Andre’s bricks) dis-
mantled significant internal relationships to an unprecedented degree but still required
the confines of the pristine gallery or museum. In contrast, the work of Barry, Weiner, and
Huebler no longer substantiated the institutional containment of art. Destroying the val-
ues that had become habitual in the cultural realm, these works left only one thing for the
viewer to “see”—the negation of the type of perceptual information traditionally supplied
by art. While this negation was virtually absolute, it assumed the existence of a public and
thus remained highly political. However, the tangible fragments of secondary information,
turning around primary information in endless circles of paradox and categorical self-
cancelation, increasingly offered the viewer no purchase on the art that they ostensibly
The artists central to this study were divided in their conception of where the
“essence” of their work was to be located: within the sphere of primary information or in
that of secondary information. There were actually two models: one articulated by Kosuth,
who firmly adhered to a notion that only the primary information mattered (the secondary
information is like a truck that carries the work to the gallery); and that followed by Hue-
bler and Weiner, who believed in the dominance of the secondary information since the
primary was inaccessible and even undesirable. (Barry’s conceptual art fell somewhere in
between, deeming all steps in the process of production of equal value.) Working within
these two inherently contrasting models, Siegelaub had to devise an exhibition strategy
that would somehow cater to both.44
The breakthrough occurred when Siegelaub placed the elements that comprised
secondary information within the medium of publicity, enabling the fragments to take on
their own value. Paradoxically, the very process of problematizing the intimate connection
between the aesthetic and the secondary information that commonly conveyed it thus
came to posit publicity as art. At that point the sphere of art expanded to the point where
it became coterminous with market society; no longer limited to its earlier, traditional or
“specific” forms, it could be consumed throughout daily life itself. In turn, the traditional
distinctiveness of the aesthetic was lost altogether.
PART III artists’ rights and product management
Some artists now think it’s absurd to fill up their studios with objects that won’t be sold, and are
trying to get their art communicated as rapidly as it is made. They’re thinking out ways to make
art what they’d like it to be in spite of the devouring speed syndrome it’s made in. That speed
has not only to be taken into consideration, but to be utilized.
—Lucy Lippard, 19691
If one wanted to read a political message into recent American art, it would be that this country
is on the way to some form of socialism.
—Barbara Rose, 19692
In an essay entitled “Painting Is Obsolete” from the pages of an underground newspaper pub-
lished weekly in New York City, Gregory Battcock waxes poetic about the “January 5–31, 1969”
exhibition organized by Siegelaub: “It’s like everything that happened in 1968, at Columbia
and Paris and all other symbolic places is finally being understood, and it all REALLY meant
something and it really will result in something because it already has in this show.”3
Battcock’s euphoria crystallizes the late 1960s belief that artistic negation and the move away
from the traditional parameters of art carried an edge of social criticism. In this highly
charged political period, transformations in artistic practice, even those by the least politi-
cally aware artists, were often seen to be driven by the conviction that they were contribut-
ing to a general change in life itself. “Finally in art,” continues Battcock,
the revolution that one sometimes briefly understands at perhaps the Fillmore, or late at night on
WBAI, or in weird, unexpected glimpses at surprising places around town, or watching a Warhol
movie or in unplanned encounters with sex or metaphysics or acid or grass or just nice people—it’s
here, in art. . . . Finally there is an exhibit that doesn’t have any junk in it, doesn’t have anything at
all really. If that doesn’t fuck up all those nice comfortable minds that like art to have big dollar signs,
and armed guards, and ticket takers and don’t (or do) touch [signs], and that most annoying of all
demands some modern art tries to make, experience, [then nothing will].4
What Battcock did not fathom, however, is that the radical changes taking place at
the end of the 1960s could also result in new, more advanced forms of reification. Indeed,
three years later Lucy Lippard lamented that, although conceptual art, artists, and exhibi-
tions presented in 1969 one of the most promising radically new and potentially revolution-
ary practices in the history of twentieth-century art, their
hopes that “conceptual art” would be able to avoid the general commercialization, the destructively
“progressive” approach of modernism, were for the most part unfounded. It seemed in 1969 . . . that
no one, not even a public greedy for novelty, would actually pay money, or much of it, for a xerox
sheet referring to an event past or never directly perceived, a group of photographs documenting an
ephemeral situation or condition, a project for work never to be completed, words spoken but not
recorded; it seemed that these artists would therefore be forcibly freed from the tyranny of a com-
modity status and market-orientation. Three years later, the major conceptualists are selling work
for substantial sums here and in Europe; they are represented by (and still more unexpected—show-
ing in) the world’s most prestigious galleries. Clearly whatever minor revolutions in communication
have been achieved by the process of dematerializing the object (easily mailed work, catalogues and
magazine pieces, primarily art that can be shown inexpensively and unobtrusively in infinite loca-
tions at one time), art and artist in a capitalist society remain luxuries.5
But in January 1969 Battcock was writing at one of the most exciting moments in
the history of the New York art world, and one in which Siegelaub was still actively involved.
That same month, Vassilakis Takis, a Greek sculptor who had taken part in the events of
May-June 1968 in Paris as well as in the artist protest demonstrations of that year at the
Venice Biennial and the Documenta exhibition, disapproved of the way he was represented
in a show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) entitled “The Machine as Seen at the
End of the Mechanical Age.”6 Pontus Hultén, the curator of the MoMA exhibition, had initially
arranged to include a large, recent work of Takis’s in the show but, without consulting the
artist, ultimately substituted Tele-Sculpture, a small three-dimensional object Takis had made
in the mid-1960s, already in the museum’s collection. Takis took exception to this, and on the
afternoon of 3 January 1969, accompanied by a small group of artists and critics, he removed
the object from the exhibition and carried it into the museum’s sculpture garden (fig. III.1).
There, holding the work hostage, Takis demanded that the piece be immediately withdrawn
from the exhibition and not shown again without his prior consent. He called on the mu-
seum to sponsor a public hearing focusing on issues pertaining to the responsibility of mu-
seums to artists. To defuse the situation, Bates Lowry, the museum’s director, immediately
met with Takis in the sculpture garden, consented to the artist’s demand that Tele-Sculpture
be withdrawn from the exhibition, and proposed that the museum create a small “Special
Committee on Artist Relations” that would regularly schedule public hearings.7 Takis and his
supporters refused Lowry’s resolution, countering that a large public meeting was necessary
to allow everyone with something to say about this issue a chance to be heard. The negotia-
tions ended at an impasse.
In the following weeks, many more artists and critics joined the group, now identi-
fied as the Art Workers Coalition (AWC), including Andre, Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Lippard,
and Siegelaub.8 Plans were made for a large demonstration at the museum on 30 March 1969.
Furthermore, Silas Rhodes, the director of the New York School of Visual Arts (SVA), agreed
to allow the AWC to hold the planned open meeting at the school on 10 April 1969.9
Hundreds of artists and critics turned out for the 3 p.m. demonstration at the Mu-
seum of Modern Art on 30 March, and roughly the same number sat attentively through the
public hearing at the School of Visual Arts eleven days later. At the MoMA demonstration,
held in the museum’s garden, the artists announced their demands and members, including
Battcock, made speeches lambasting the museum. Calls were made for the museum to insti-
artists’ rights an
III.1 Vassilakis Takis removing Tele-Sculpture, 1965, from the exhibition “The Machine as Seen
at the End of the Mechanical Age,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 3 January 1969
tute free admission, to include works by a much broader field of artists than the highly select
one it consistently featured, and, most importantly, to grant artists rights over their work.
During the marathon, four-hour session at the SVA, however, the target broad-
ened.10 Although some of the almost seventy speakers focused their protests on the Museum
of Modern Art, the art establishment at large drew most of their wrath. Battcock’s address at
the open hearing marks the first public recognition in the United States of limitations oper-
ative within the liberal sphere of cultural production:
The museum today, such as the Modern, the Whitney and the Metropolitan . . . actively supports
antiquated values and distorted obsessions that are not simply hypocritical, they are oppressive, re-
actionary, culturally debilitating and socially and aesthetically negative. The simple fact is that
those who control the museum—whatever museum you care to consider—are the superrich who
control all legitimate communicative agencies. The trustees of the museums direct N.B.C. and
C.B.S., the New York Times, and the associated press, . . . they own A.T.&T., Ford, General Motors,
the great multi-billion dollar foundations, Columbia University, Alcoa, Minnesota Mining, United
Fruit and A.M.K., besides sitting on the boards of each other’s museums. The implications of these
facts are enormous. Do you realize that it is those art loving, culturally committed trustees of the
Metropolitan and Modern museums who are waging the war in Vietnam? . . . It could be no worse
if control and administration of the museum were turned over to the department of defense.11
Battcock’s comments introduce the need for a critical reassessment not only of artists’ self-
understanding, but also of the idea that cultural institutions are neutral, and do not restrict,
prohibit, or exclude anything on ideological grounds. This newfound skepticism formed a
crucial stage in the emergence of those developments known collectively as “institutional
critique”—an art practice that would seek to make apparent the intersections where not only
political and economic but also ideological and state, and cultural and corporate, interests
meet. Such a practice could not be adequately evaluated in aesthetic terms, since what in-
formed it was a conception of a new social system—a vision inseparable from an even more
widespread faith in the possibilities and promise of a new global society.
The recognition had not yet been made that a work of art is intricately part of the
very process of rationalization and institutionalization that artists were now beginning to
critique. Andre, for instance, suggested at the open hearing that the power of artists was lo-
cated in their art, and in particular in withdrawing their art from the function it was con-
artists’ rights an
ventionally made to serve. This strategy of negation, he argued, would be intolerable for the
art establishment, since it meant that there would be no more “commercial connections,” no
more “shows” and “exhibitions,” no more cooperation with museums, no more “scene,” no
more “big money artists.”12 Siegelaub emphasized a similar point to the open hearing audi-
ence: “The art is the one thing that you have. . . . This is the way your leverage lies. I would
think that by using that leverage you could achieve much greater goals than in any other
ways.”13 Of course, the “leverage” to which Siegelaub referred was not necessarily the refusal
to exhibit, as Andre proposed; rather it was the refusal to operate according to the traditional
practices, rules, and interests of galleries, museums, and collectors. The newly politicized
art public that coalesced around the Art Workers Coalition in early 1969 reflected a manifest
need for a truly democratic, public art that challenged the authority not only of the Museum
of Modern Art but of all art institutions.
Siegelaub’s strategy of exhibiting not in galleries and museums but in more public
sites of collective reception (e.g., magazines, catalogues, books) was in tandem with the
AWC’s call for a more open situation in art. What made his practice particularly explosive,
however, was the promotion of artists who completely disavowed conventional art objects.
Ironically, the negation of the art object made the artwork much more publicly attainable.14
For instance, one could easily reproduce Weiner’s An Amount of Bleach Poured on a Rug and
Allowed to Bleach or acquire part or parts of Kosuth’s Second Investigation merely by carrying
out the ideas circulated in newspapers or journals. Furthermore, the absolute negation of
preciousness that characterized these works, together with their dissemination in mass
communication networks, eliminated uniqueness and rendered artworks more readily ac-
cessible than ever before.
Siegelaub reaffirmed the public dimension of conceptual art: “The artists have cho-
sen to involve themselves in the community,” he announced in early 1969. “I think that the
obvious . . . implication of an art whose condition is immediately public domain, say an ex-
perienceless art, . . . has a lot to do with a desire to reach the community.”15 According to
Siegelaub, then, the transition from the limited space of the gallery or museum to the pub-
licly accessible space of newspapers, journals, magazines, books, and catalogues was a tran-
sition in the direction of a new public art that could be observed in the increasingly
interconnected spaces of late twentieth century modernity. This view, it should also be em-
phasized, was an underlying theme of much of the discussion of the Art Workers Coalition.
Siegelaub’s exhibitions and the “conceptual art” they featured met their first re-
ception in this context of artistic dissent and reassessment. There was a manifest need in
the newly politicized art world for a truly democratic, public art that challenged the author-
ity not only of museums but of “all art institutions and conditions.”16 And, as Battcock’s re-
view reveals, the new works produced by the artists associated with Siegelaub, and the
development of alternative exhibition spaces such as the “January 5–31, 1969” show, ade-
quately fit the bill.
artists’ rights an
The world is full of objects . . . I do not wish to add any more.
—Douglas Huebler, 19691
Xerography—every man’s brain-picker—heralds the times of instant publishing. Anybody can
now become both author and publisher. Take any books on any subject and custom-make your
own book by simply Xeroxing a chapter from this one, a chapter from that one—instant steal!
—Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, 19672
In many ways Siegelaub’s innovative exhibition and distribution strategies followed from the
nature of the work he promoted. The publicity for the exhibitions often mirrored the works
in the shows (and vice versa). The advertising campaign he launched to promote “Douglas
Huebler: November 1968” is a case in point. In keeping with the informational nature of
Huebler’s new work, the publicity Siegelaub circulated announcing the exhibition employed
the xerox degree of art
exactly the same type of descriptive language that the artist integrated into his work. In No-
vember 1968, a black and white notice appeared in Artforum that read:
This 1/4 page advertisement (41/2� x 43/4� ), appearing in the November 1968 issue of Artforum
magazine, on page 8, in the lower left corner, is one form of documentation for the November 1968
exhibition of Douglas Huebler. Seth Siegelaub, 1100 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10028.3
This was not an aestheticized commercial message in the traditional sense; on the contrary,
the structure of the work simulated the banality of an advertisement (fig. 6.1). Furthermore,
in contrast to the late modernist ambition to differentiate art from the information that sur-
rounded it and the exhibition and distribution context in which it appeared, the manner in
which Siegelaub presented the work of Huebler celebrated its insertion into the heterogeneous
fabric of publicity, display, and information. A play of allusion and formal echoes secured the
work’s kinship with the notices and advertisements, reflecting a renunciation of the mod-
ernist claim to radical difference and innovation. Whether or not this feature of the work of
artists associated with Siegelaub is to be characterized as conceptual art must remain an
open question. Although the work effaced the distinction between high and mass culture, a
distinction on which modernism depended for its specificity, this constitutive differentiation
seems already to have been on the point of disappearing. If pop artists merged the antithet-
ical realms of the high and the low by quoting the materials, fragments, and motifs of mass
culture, artists such as Huebler incorporate them to the point where many of the critical and
evaluative categories on which the radical differentiation of modernism and mass culture
was based no longer seem functional.
In this type of cultural mutation (in which what used to be stigmatized as mass or
commercial culture is now received into the precincts of fine art), the work, like advertising,
becomes an object whose use value is located in its publicity and sign value. The work abol-
ishes all claims to aesthetic value and to the auratic glow that formerly gave prestige to art.
At the same time it raised a question that would haunt the forms of art production, exhibi-
tion, and distribution that Siegelaub and the artists affiliated with him were developing: To
what extent can artistic practices parallel (and even appropriate) advertising strategies with-
out fully becoming advertisements themselves? For Huebler’s Artforum advert announces it-
self self-reflexively as “one form of documentation” of the exhibition. It is important here to
recall that for Huebler, documentation becomes the central aspect of the artwork. In other
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
6.1 Advertisement in Artforum announcing the exhibition
“Douglas Huebler: November 1968,” 1968
words, as secondary information the advertisement literally constitutes a fragment of the
work. The piece is in public freehold; possession of the advert is equivalent to possession of
an element of the artwork. Yet the nature of that intervention is not necessarily progressive,
for Siegelaub and Huebler’s distribution of a shard of the artwork at no cost to the collector
can also be seen to establish false, predetermined needs for the customer that can then only
be fulfilled by the makers of these needs: Siegelaub and Huebler.
X E R O G R A P H Y
In December 1968, Siegelaub organized a group show that served both to promote the artists
associated with him and to legitimize the format of exhibition and distribution he pioneered.
Consistent with his newly developed exhibition strategy, he also conceived of the show, “The
Xerox Book,” as a book project available for wide distribution.4 Rather than the standard
offset methods of printing, though, Siegelaub sought to make use of a much more access-
ible form of duplication: the photocopy machine, an instrument that potentially made every-
one a printer. This exhibition, with its strategic use of advanced media, thus represented a
vigorous critique of the unique and authentic work of art that deprivileged and depersonal-
ized the art-making process and virtually abolished the threshold between high and mass
Rather than critically obliterating notions of authorship, “The Xerox Book” accom-
plished the reverse. In their infamous The Medium Is the Massage of 1967, McLuhan and Fiore
locate the origins of the anxiety of authenticity or authorship in the fifteenth-century in-
vention of the printing press.6 Because the printing press reduced the investment of human
labor and the human hand and greatly standardized production, notions of authorship were
devised to arrest that natural conclusion. The same principle would play itself out with the
marketing of conceptual art.
The extreme mechanization of artistic production and distribution that character-
izes “The Xerox Book” drew on a strategy Mel Bochner had employed two years earlier in a
pivotal exhibition he organized for the School of Visual Arts gallery featuring the photo-
copied working drawings of a number of artists (fig. 6.2).7 Bochner assembled copies of each
drawing in four identical loose-leaf notebooks, which he placed on gallery white pedestals in
the center of the gallery. This shifted the focus from the particular components of the draw-
ings to the medium of communication; from traditional ideas of “depth” in art to a reflection
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
6.2 Mel Bochner, Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant
to Be Viewed as Art, as installed at the Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York,
on the artwork as interpretive frame.8 Siegelaub did not merely employ the copy machine as
a means of reproduction, but requested that the artists treat the new technology as a con-
ceptual component of their work, a further index of his scheme to distribute the artwork to
an unprecedently large audience.9
Initially, Siegelaub envisioned that the work of Andre, Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Le-
Witt, Weiner, Robert Morris, Walter De Maria, and Robert Smithson would be featured in the
“Xerox Book” project. De Maria and Smithson ultimately decided not to participate, leaving
the catalogue-exhibition with seven artists in all. To keep the project impartial and free of hi-
erarchy, Siegelaub asked each of them for the same amount of work: a twenty-five-page piece
on standard 81/2 x 11-inch paper to be reproduced seriographically.10
Given the layout restrictions, it is not surprising that “The Xerox Book” generated
several unprecedented and contradictory variations on the conventional exhibition format.
On the one hand, it transformed the basic, temporal aspect of an exhibition into a different
form of extension. Rather than running for three weeks, the show ran for one hundred and
seventy-five pages. On the other hand, the temporal process of thumbing through twenty-
five pages was fundamental to each work. In this regard, “The Xerox Book” fused the static
and the filmic, the dimensional and the temporal, all the while inverting a broad range of
Siegelaub found the seriographic process of xerography appealing for several rea-
sons. To begin with, it was novel. As he emphasized in a press release announcing the cata-
logue-exhibition, “this is the first time that these . . . artists have worked in this process.”11 In
addition, the mechanical, “impersonal nature” of xerography depersonalized the production
process, negating the skilled hand of the artist in a way that once again resonated with the
visionary writings of McLuhan and Fiore, who observed that “as new technologies come into
play, people are less and less convinced of the importance of self-expression.”12 But the fea-
ture of the photocopy medium that most interested Siegelaub was its negation of the aes-
thetic component. As he explicitly asserted in an interview a few months after organizing
this project: “I chose Xerox as opposed to offset or any other process because it’s such a bland,
shitty reproduction, really just for the exchange of information. That’s all a Xerox is about. I
mean, it’s not even, you know, defined. So Xerox just cuts down on the visual aspects of look-
ing at the information.”13 In part, of course, this idea went in tandem with the deskilling prac-
tices that characterized much of the work of the artists he represented, and it fit into a much
larger anti-aesthetic trend suspicious of the slick work of art. But above all, for Siegelaub the
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
electrostatic copying machine, with its leveling of all information to the zero degree, em-
phasized the new art’s status as text, as secondary information.
Consistent with his strategy of exhibiting works in as literal and disinterested a
manner as possible, however, no essays or introduction appeared in the catalogue-exhibition.
Furthermore, unlike the Bradford or Windham shows, “The Xerox Book” was not accompa-
nied by a symposium or by any other public means to establish the identity or legitimacy of
the group of artists. But that void of signification was filled with the corporate name Xerox,
which of course was loaded with meaning and was anything but disinterested. Indeed, in the
weeks prior to the show, Siegelaub lobbied the Xerox Corporation in New York to underwrite
the project. His effort to involve industry and large corporations with artists, begun a few
years earlier with the founding of Image, Inc., had been moderately successful. Yet the Xerox
Corporation, after several meetings with Siegelaub, decided not to support the book.14 Siege-
laub immediately turned to Jack Wendler, the independent businessman with whom he had
set up Image, Inc., for help in underwriting the project. They concluded that to produce a
book entirely in the photocopy medium would be too expensive. Thus, in one of the many
material paradoxes of conceptual art, “The Xerox Book” was duplicated using a regular print-
ing press. Despite this shift in production means, Siegelaub continued to invoke the corpo-
rate name Xerox, raising a number of questions: What was it about the sign value of “Xerox”
that was considered appealing? And what did it mean for an exhibition to appropriate a cor-
“ T H E X E R O X B O O K ”
Consistent with his efforts to eliminate artistic hierarchy, Siegelaub presented the artists and
their work in alphabetical order in “The Xerox Book.” Hence the catalogue-exhibition began
with Andre’s piece, one in a series of so-called “scatter pieces” the artist had commenced the
previous year.15 Andre simply dropped twenty-five 1 x 1-inch units of block cardboard onto
the screen of the duplicating machine from a height of one and a half feet, and let the natu-
ral forces of gravity make the pattern (figs. 6.3–6.5). The result was a random operation that
negated conventions of skill and rational composition. Rather than let all of the individual
units of cardboard fall onto the screen at once, however, Andre dropped the pieces one at a
time. He made a photocopy each time an additional element was placed on the screen. The
work thus addressed the procedure of its own making, the indexical trace of a material pro-
6.3 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book”
6.4 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book”
6.5 Carl Andre, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book”
cess, as much as the idea that informed it. As with the operation of Huebler’s conceptual art,
each stage of the production process of Andre’s scatter piece (i.e., each of the twenty-five
pages) was equal in status. Without a conventional center, or point of climax, the work was
analogous to a structuralist filmic sequence or a serial musical score in which no one frame
or bar is suspended and privileged above the others.16
Barry’s One Million Dots also involved an accumulation of units over the twenty-five
pages, but here each page was alike. Consisting of twenty-five photocopies of a paper tem-
plate featuring 40,000 printed dots, One Million Dots foregrounded temporality and the accu-
mulation of the seemingly endless dots as much as it did the viewer’s operation of the piece
in turning the pages. The relationship between viewer and artwork was thus redefined, as the
work permitted the viewer a space of direct, tactile and perceptual interaction.17
LeWitt exhibited a schematic drawing that followed logically from the serial sys-
tems of three-dimensional cubes he had been working on since 1966, such as Serial Project
No. 1 (ABCD) discussed earlier (fig. 6.6). These were fully diegetic serial compositions with reg-
ulated changes between the parts.18 The artist calculated that there were twenty-four dif-
ferent ways of ordering the first four ordinate numbers, and thus formulated a system based
on the number four. First he assigned a different kind of line to each of the four numbers and
drew the lines parallel and very close to one another in boxes.19 Then he devised a system of
arranging the boxes based on the divisibility of four so that each of the twenty-four pages
featured a different arrangement of sixteen squares.
The primary material of the works that Huebler, Kosuth, and Weiner exhibited in
“The Xerox Book” was language, but they employed linguistic definitions in neither a poetic
nor a philosophical sense. Instead they used language solely as a means to convey informa-
tion. This was the gist of Siegelaub’s comment in 1969 that “the same way that color was in-
formation before, language is functioning as information now.”20 Huebler put together a
number of drawings that joined descriptive language with visual signs, locating lines and
points in various spatial relationships. A typical drawing consisted of three dots, A, B and C,
a couple of inches apart from each other and midway up the page, with the following caption
in Trade Gothic type: “B represents a point located one inch ahead of the picture plane. A and
C represent two points located on the picture plane.” The English caption was translated into
French and German as well, thereby juxtaposing the same visual information to various lan-
guage systems. The experience of viewing thus differed in each case, underscoring the con-
sequential role of codes such as language in discerning information.21
6.6 Sol LeWitt, Untitled, 1968, from “The Xerox Book”
Weiner’s piece was another variation on his removal series, but unlike in Turf, Stake
and String or Six Common Ten Penny Steel Nails of earlier that same year, he indicated the ma-
terials and performance dimension of this piece entirely in linguistic terms. In hand-written
capital letters, toward the bottom right corner of an 81/2 x 11-inch sheet of graph paper, a
statement read: “A rectangular removal from a xeroxed graph sheet in proportion to the over-
all dimensions of the sheet” (fig. 6.7). All twenty-five pages were identical. Insofar as the pro-
cess of manufacture thus stipulated and the general artistic concept or information were not
coincident, Weiner’s method of production split apart the primary and secondary informa-
tion. This artistic paradigm was fundamentally open, and allowed a whole series of contin-
gencies to determine the final work.
A comparison of A Rectangular Removal from a Xeroxed Graph Sheet with an untitled
piece Weiner initially proposed for this show but decided at the last moment not to exhibit
can clarify this point. The latter consisted of an irregular pattern of blocks of graphic marks,
each four integers across and ten down (figs. 6.8–6.10). As the pages advanced, the pattern
shifted from left to right one integer at a time, so that by the last page the twenty-five inte-
gers are to the right of where they were on the first page. There is an obvious similarity be-
tween this earlier work and A Rectangular Removal from a Xeroxed Graph Sheet insofar as both
employed twenty-five sheets of standard graph paper. However, the piece that was ultimately
not used invoked narrative, literally focusing on the spatial-temporal procedures within
which a serial system of graphic marks could be made to move across a field over the space
of twenty-five pages. The work was thus absolutely self-referential—a narrative structure
with a systematic self-reflexivity anticipated by the serial systems of LeWitt.
In contrast to his rejected work, however, Weiner’s A Rectangular Removal was not
systematically self-reflexive, and did not follow a serial order. The performative dimension
of building the piece, of removing a rectangle from a photocopied sheet of graph paper, was
left entirely to the anonymous viewer. Accordingly, Weiner’s A Rectangular Removal was struc-
turally similar to the wall drawings LeWitt began to make at precisely this moment in late
1968. The governing principle of these drawings was that the labor of production—both con-
ceptually building the piece and actually executing the application of graphic marks on the
wall—did not have to be carried out by the artist. LeWitt limited his role to providing loosely
defined instructions (e.g., somebody draw “500 vertical black lines, 500 horizontal yellow
lines, 500 diagonal (l. to r.) blue lines, and 500 diagonal (r. to l.) red lines . . . at random”), and
encouraged his assistants to contribute conceptually to the partially predefined but largely
6.7 Lawrence Weiner, A Rectangular Removal from a Xeroxed Graph Sheet in Proportion
to the Overall Dimensions of the Sheet, 1968, from “The Xerox Book”
6.8 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968
6.9 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968
6.10 Lawrence Weiner, Untitled, 1968
open drawing scheme.22 Therefore, although the number of lines was predetermined, pre-
cisely where they were to be placed on the wall was left open. With A Rectangular Removal
Weiner also predefined the broader parameters of the piece in the form of general instruc-
tions, but he left the labor of production to the viewer rather than to his assistants. Thus, as
with Weiner’s conceptual art in general, the egalitarian dimension of A Rectangular Removal
went further than LeWitt’s conceptual art in that the piece could be executed by anybody.
Moreover, insofar as Weiner placed the work in what he referred to as “public free-
hold,” it could also be owned by anybody. A few months after the completion of “The Xerox
Book,” Weiner commented on A Rectangular Removal in language that revealed his concern
with the work’s democratic and egalitarian potential:
The exciting thing about the “Xerox Book” project was that there were twenty-five sheets, and it was
the same exact piece . . . and that almost helped to show that the removal, as long as it was in pro-
portion, could have been twenty-five different removals. There was no seeing whether the removal
was the art or what was left was the art. And yet it was exactly the same piece. So you had twenty-
five of exactly the same piece that could look twenty-five different ways. So for me it was a perfect
piece. And that to me is a public freehold piece. Anybody who purchased the “Xerox Book” owned
As utopian a principle as the idea of “public freehold” initially appeared, there was a slight
catch. As Weiner continued to explain in the same interview, “It’s called public freehold for
me, and then there’s private freehold, which is where the only people that can own the piece
are the people who ask for it when it’s freehold.”24 Thus as the work of art moved from pub-
lic to private freehold, it became endowed with a more exclusive value. Although not an-
chored by the artist’s signature, this value was guaranteed by a peculiar method of verifying
authenticity. According to Weiner, “the only record that someone owns the piece is filed with
a lawyer on a typewritten sheet. And filed in one set of books that I have and in another set
of books that’s in a safe-deposit box. That’s the record and complete proof of receivership.
The title.”25 Property value was thus conferred on a particular work through its legal title,
which was securely locked up in a safety deposit box.
Kosuth’s project matter-of-factly itemized the constituent elements employed in
the production of “The Xerox Book”: “Title of the project,” “photograph of the xerox machine
used,” “xerox machine’s specifications,” “photograph of collation machine used,” “collation
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
machine specifications,” and so on. The literality of the work echoed LeWitt’s dictum that
art should not instruct the viewer but should self-reflexively present information.26 Since
the catalogue-exhibition was produced with the use of a regular offset printing press rather
than an electrostatic copying machine, however, Kosuth’s piece ultimately lost much of its
For Siegelaub, Wendler, and the artists who contributed to “The Xerox Book,” the
“Xerox” machine signified a number of things at once. To begin with, it represented a means
by which to level questions of formal aesthetic quality. In addition, the technology the Xerox
Corporation manufactured was widely considered to be on the cutting edge of innovation in
the 1960s, and therefore an association with this corporation carried the cachet of vanguard-
ism. Siegelaub and Wendler’s championing of “Xerox” was also undoubtedly related to
McLuhan and Fiore’s celebration the previous year of this company’s duplicating machine,
which they argued made publishing accessible to all and copyright virtually ungovernable:
“Take any books on any subject and custom-make your own book by simply Xeroxing a chap-
ter from this one, a chapter from that one—instant steal!”27 With its potential for unlimited
production and distribution of information and ideas, the photocopy machine constituted a
crucial addition to the communications industry.28 For Siegelaub, efficient communication
was tantamount to power: “For me, power is the ability to get things done—for example, by
means of swift global communication.”29 Therefore, whether or not an actual copying ma-
chine was used for this exhibit was irrelevant to him; what mattered was the issue of what
could transpire using such technology.
D E S I G N E D F O R R E P R O D U C I B I L I T Y
Repeatedly, in the late 1960s, Siegelaub declared that he conceived of his innovations in tan-
dem with developments in the work of the artists he represented. In one of his most impor-
tant interviews, he explained the necessary factors in the formation of the exhibition
practice he pioneered:
The type of art that I’m involved with and concerned about has to do less with materiality than ideas
and intangible considerations. And so because I deal with that, or spend time working with artists
making art in that area, the needs for presentation of the work, and things of this nature, are quite
a bit different than just putting up walls and making them available to artists, which is what a
Siegelaub adds that the artists he works with are obviously interested in going beyond the
relatively small, privileged public that frequents galleries and museums. “It’s very obviously
implicit in the work,” he insists, that these artists want to reach a much larger public. “I mean,
they don’t make objects in the studio and leave them there, or put something out to only a
few galleries. Instead its condition immediately transcends that, it’s immediately out to the
public.”31 Thus the concern is not only with reaching a larger public, but with rapid mobil-
ity—of reaching that public more quickly than did previous art.
Here the symbiotic relationship between Siegelaub’s novel distribution strategies
and the work of the artists associated with him becomes strikingly apparent. Just as these
artists developed a type of work that sought to abandon the limitations of the object, aes-
thetic concerns, and privileged codes or access, so Siegelaub altered conventional forms of
distribution, and thereby the work of art’s position within the social hierarchy of cultural in-
formation. Insofar as Siegelaub’s goal was to distribute the work he represented beyond a
specific market or set of consumers, his novel exhibition practice was consistent with the
rapidly developing and ever-thickening network of interconnections and interdependencies
transforming modern social life in the 1960s.
Although Siegelaub placed a small number of catalogues in New York bookstores
for sale to the public, he distributed most of them through a direct-mail advertising cam-
paign, in effect planning the future market for the artists and informing those on his ever-
growing mailing list of the merchandise he had available for sale.32 This colonization of the
future through promoting product recall, a crucial component in the political economy of
sign value, came to be a structural feature of the work of the artists Siegelaub represented.
His novel marketing strategy of communicating with prospective art collectors through di-
rect-mail catalogues sent from his home came to replace the function of a centrally located
gallery. Of course, this was only a new form of merchandising in the context of the prevail-
ing institutional and discursive conventions of art distribution and sales. Once we recognize
that in the 1960s the dissemination of direct-mail catalogues informing consumers of newly
available products was an increasingly common gambit advocated by advertising firms and
practiced by large and small businesses alike, the source of Siegelaub’s selling strategy be-
comes more clear.33
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
In effect, then, by late 1968 Siegelaub had accomplished what Allan Kaprow had
called for barely one year earlier in “Pop Art: Past, Present and Future.” Kaprow lauds the
lengths to which pop art had gone in integrating art with everyday life, but notes that “the
job has only begun.”34 If pop art deprivileged the status of the aesthetic object, he argues,
the distribution form of the work of art still remained in privileged spheres of experience.35
Evaluating this situation and proposing what he felt still needed to be done in order to pop-
ularize art fully, Kaprow writes:
The pop artist has to do some additional reevaluating for himself particularly as regards the context
in which he presents his work. Thus far he deals only with the smart set, the esthetes, the art world,
the fashionable magazine editors. His showplace is the elegant sanctum of the gallery, museum and
town house. . . . In order for pop art to overcome its preciosity, it must move out into the open. . . .
Consider the possibilities of sky-writing, in dropping leaflets, in blimp paintings, or displays
dragged through the air. . . . The roads to take are almost unlimited. And if gallery dealers are wor-
ried about my proposals for practical reasons, they need not: from their very same desks they can
launch the careers of these new ad men, for they can simply change their gallery name to an agency
name, and their title to “art director.”36
The work of the artists affiliated with Siegelaub almost programmatically answered Kaprow’s
call, as did the former’s newly developed mode of operation: by June 1969 Siegelaub referred
to himself simply as a “consultant” “organizing information.”37 But as the work moved from
the space of the aesthetic object and closer to the space of quotidian objects, as it moved into
what Baudrillard has referred to as “the xerox degree of culture,” not only were all of the privi-
leged aspects of aesthetic objects and experience negated but so too was the possibility of
aesthetic judgment. As Baudrillard observes in “Beyond the Vanishing Point of Art,”
The logic of the disappearance of art is, precisely, inversely proportional to that of the production of
culture. The “xerox degree” of culture in a state of absolute proliferation corresponds to the zero-
degree of art: one is the other’s vanishing point, and absolute simulation.38
Baudrillard’s extraordinary remark offers a rich picture of the “end of art”: an end that is a
realization. When art is disseminated to a mass public and multiple venues beyond galleries
and museums, it loses its specificity. Its potential for proliferation as well as its accessibility
transforms the very character of art, causing it to dissolve and vanish. The radical and in-
discernible expansion and proliferation of art calls into question its very nature and pushes
it into the domain of publicity.
The breakthrough takes place when a mediated object replaces the tangible one,
or, to put it in Walter Benjamin’s terms, when the work becomes more and more “designed
for reproducibility.”39 In this mutation in aesthetic production, traditional forms of material
support give way to the most advanced media and their offshoots in photography, film, video,
and more direct channels of the market such as magazines, billboards, newspaper adver-
tisements, and other forms of publicity. Hence, the sphere of art expands, becoming coter-
minous with market society in such a way that the aesthetic is no longer limited to its earlier,
traditional or experimental forms but is consumed throughout daily life itself. The closed
space of the aesthetic is thereby opened up to its fully culturalized context. Indeed, as Bau-
drillard points out, this expansion must also spell the end of the aesthetic itself. When the
realm of art increases to the point where everything becomes in one way or another accul-
turated, the traditional distinctiveness or “specificity” of the aesthetic (and even of culture
as such) is necessarily blurred or lost altogether.40
Yet, as Lippard concluded three years later, despite the potential for a different,
radically modified art world composed of a new collective utopian space, such a space was
ultimately unrealizable. The reasons for that failure might very well lie in conceptual art’s
belief in the medium as the sole locus of meaning.41 Or, from a more social perspective, they
might be located in the profound naivete of conceptual art’s belief that it had evaded the rig-
orous control of forces governing and structuring the art market by displacing the suppos-
edly unique art object.42 But Siegelaub, even if only for a moment in 1969, grappled with the
conundrum of how to operate within the art world without capitulating to its operative con-
ventions that necessitated unambiguous authorship, authenticity, and objectness. Later
that same year, as conceptual art’s success and acceptance grew, Siegelaub noted with a re-
signed tone, “any form of art which becomes established becomes establishment.”43 And it
was precisely against this transformation that Siegelaub increasingly worked, as he became
more and more attentive to the problem of artists’ rights.
artists’ rights an
e xerox degree of art
Artists have finally been accepted as idea men and not merely as craftsmen with poetic thoughts.
—Seth Siegelaub, 19691
Is it so surprising that in a time when postindustrial ephemeralization is rampant, when infor-
mation bits are speedier and more important than heavy matter or face-to-face contact, when we
are bombarded with message units, when time is so precious it almost has become a substance,
when space is at a premium, when history forces us to dematerialize, that artists everywhere
should come up with Conceptual Art? Conceptual Art is a symptom of globalism and it is the
first—Surrealism almost was—really international art style.
—John Perreault, 19712
Even before the “January 5–31, 1969” show closed, Siegelaub was planning several more pub-
lic exhibitions that employed the infrastructure of publicity as medium and problematized
the traditional boundaries of artistic production.3 He increasingly came to realize the enor-
the siegelaub idea
mous implications of the art produced in tandem with the practice of presentation he orig-
inated. Not only were the new modes of artistic production, presentation, and distribution
capable of expanding the work’s audience, but according to Siegelaub they also rendered
“the idea of individual ownership of works of art” a “passé condition,” in many cases “totally
impossible” since “the experience” of an art presented through the infrastructure of public-
ity and display “is everybody’s immediately.”4 Recall that his advert in Artforum for the Hue-
bler show, in its role as documentation, already constituted a fragment of the work, and
therefore whoever possessed the journal had a stake in the artist’s production; similarly,
Barry’s Inert Gas was publicly accessible through a telephone answering service in Los An-
geles. By harnessing the distribution medium, Siegelaub made an unlimited viewership a
real possibility.5 This condition, in which art became unprecedentedly uncircumscribed and
mobile, put pressure on structures such as the gallery network that hierarchize through in-
clusion and exclusion. “Now,” Siegelaub observed in the spring of 1969, an artist does not
“have to be involved in a gallery or be uptight about not having a gallery. [Whereas] before
it was a sign of shame. It doesn’t make any fucking difference anymore.”6
Rather than a gallery in a particular fixed location, Siegelaub’s site of exhibition
was as ephemeral as it was vast. “I broke down, like, what a gallery does. What is its func-
tion? Its primary function is that it’s a place for artists to put their work out. But it breaks
down to many aspects. . . . There’s space, there’s money, there’s exposure or publicity, you
know, there are a number of things. And I’ve just, in a sense, eliminated space. My gallery is
the world now.”7 Of course, the work produced by the artists he represented facilitated this
conception of space, since one of the characteristics of a work presented in linguistic and
graphic terms as pages in catalogues and magazines was that it could be distributed “all
over the world very, very quickly.”8
Most significant for Siegelaub at the time was his belief that the ability to distrib-
ute the new art as primary information made geographical “decentralization” possible. “I
think New York is beginning to break down as a center,” he remarked in the summer of 1969.
“Not that there will be another city to replace it, but rather where any artist is will be the
center.”9 From Siegelaub’s perspective, the deterritorializing properties of conceptual art lib-
erated it not only from traditional institutional sites of display, but also from geographical
centers.10 In this sense, Siegelaub’s metaphors of a shrinking world of complex connectivity
were of a piece with the infamous communications discourse propagated by Marshall
McLuhan and his followers, who exalted advances in telecommunications and their global
artists’ rights an
message with delirious optimism. McLuhan’s championing of the medium of communica-
tion over the contents of media messages, encapsulated in his formula “the medium is the
message,” transferred meaning onto the medium itself through the technological structure.
The sign value of art became triumphant as art’s use value (and exchange value) came to be
determined by its mode of distribution rather than its content. Not everyone celebrated the
potential of new media so uncritically, as is evident in the contemporaneous work of Hans
Magnus Enzensberger, who warned against the one-way communication of the media at
pains to exclude the possibility of response.11 Enzensberger’s argument represents the oppo-
site pole from McLuhan’s position, a critical standpoint to which Siegelaub would gradually
move in the following years.
Siegelaub’s hyperbolic post-1968 proclamations of global interconnectedness, of
the world as his gallery, have direct parallels in the consequences of the cybernetic and
informational revolutions for marketing and finance. The “postindustrial ephemeralization”
of the 1960s and 1970s, in which mechanized technologies of communication were intensi-
fied to the point that capital and informational transfers could be instantaneously effectu-
ated around the globe from one national zone to another, dramatically announced a new
phase of globalization.12 From the instrumental point of view of advanced capitalism, what
was heralded was an increased functional proximity, in which deterritorialized spaces and
connecting corridors were created to ease the flow of capital (including its commodities and
personnel), and the time-space compression of connectivity was matched with a degree of
cultural “compression.”13 The fact that conceptual art’s method of production and Siege-
laub’s method of distribution were at one with globalization soon rendered both profoundly
economic, and integrated them into advanced capitalism’s generalized commodity system.
But this fate was not initially evident.
I N F O R M A T I O N A N D P H A N T A S M A G O R I A
In 1969 Siegelaub organized a series of shows characterized by greatly broadened exhibition
spaces and artworks that further decentered the relationship between primary and second-
ary information. For “Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris,” sponsored by Bradford Junior College’s
Laura Knott Gallery in March of that year, the primary information was presented in the
catalogue and the secondary information on the premises of the gallery space.14 This was an
extraordinary reversal of the usual format in which primary information is on view in the
exhibition space, and the catalogue is reserved for secondary information. It also indicated
a transformation of the very nature of the art represented. As Siegelaub explained in a No-
vember 1969 interview,
when art does not any longer depend upon its physical presence, when it has become an abstraction,
it is not distorted and altered by its representation in books and catalogues. It becomes PRIMARY
information; while the reproduction of conventional art in books or catalogues is necessarily
SECONDARY information. . . . When information is PRIMARY, the catalogue can become the
Yet, when we consider that Morris’s piece at the “Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris” show fea-
tured a rubber stamp on the paper towels in the restrooms—presumably, anyone who han-
dled a paper towel would thus possess the work—the possibility that something else was at
play becomes real. By restricting the primary information to the catalogue, Siegelaub had
also limited and controlled the potential ownership of the work.
Another exhibition Siegelaub organized that year, “One Month,” took the form of a
calendar of the month of March 1969, during which a day was assigned to each of the thirty-
one invited artists.16 As with “The Xerox Book,” the information presented in the catalogue
was “primary” and there was no exhibition site or gallery to be visited.17 “You don’t need walls
to show ideas,” Siegelaub explained to Art in America’s David Shirey in the spring of 1969, ex-
tolling the virtues of working with primary rather than more conventional secondary infor-
mation. “People who have galleries can show their objects only in one place at a time. I’m not
limited. I can have my ideas in twenty different places at once. Ideas are faster than tedious
objects.”18 In other words, the new method of exhibition not only delimited the size of the au-
dience, but also shifted the emphasis from objects to ideas. And according to Siegelaub, now
that the object had been eliminated and the art only existed as an idea, to become aware of
that idea was to possess it.19
The implications of this new mode of art for the market were enormous, as evi-
denced by Patricia Norvell’s somewhat puzzled observation during her early 1969 interview
with Siegelaub: “You can’t make anyone pay for thinking about [art].”20 Siegelaub soon found
a solution to this obstacle, as the traces of these “thoughts” came to be offered for sale as
artists’ rights an
fetishistic substitutes for the “lost” objects. Here again, the parallels between this new art
and advertising (which sells ideas as fluidly as objects) are striking, for as Baudrillard shows
in For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, advanced capitalism relies on the construc-
tion of sign values to establish the relative values of objects.21 With systems of thought and
signs (and not just material objects) reified and commodified, even pricelessness can con-
tribute to the marketing of a product by increasing its desirability.
The distinction between primary and secondary information was also central to
the “Simon Fraser Exhibition” that Siegelaub organized at the gallery of Simon Fraser Uni-
versity (SFU) in Vancouver for May and June of 1969.22 As he outlined the show to university
The exhibition will have no title. . . . The overall plan: 1. Print 1000 copies of the enclosed poster be-
fore the exhibition opens, and distribute. 2. During 19 May and 19 June the work of each artist will
be introduced into the community at Simon Fraser. 3. (Towards) the end of the exhibition a catalog
of the exhibition (“what has happened”) will be printed and distributed (approximately 12 pages
with photos—details to follow).23
What is striking about this “overall plan” is the equivalence it posits between the work and
its publicity. As he had done on several recent occasions, Siegelaub also organized a sympo-
sium with the artists to coincide with the exhibition. In this case, however, he arranged for
the artists to communicate with each other and the audience by means of a telephone
hookup linking New York (Kosuth, Barry, LeWitt, Weiner, Huebler, and Siegelaub in the role
of moderator), Ottawa (Baxter), and Vancouver (local critics and curators). This multicontext
electronic conversation was transmitted to an assembled audience over the public address
system in the SFU Theater.24 Telephones were also installed in the theater, and, following an
exchange between the artists, the audience was invited to participate in the discussion.
This use of technology to enhance communications not only indicates the consid-
erable energy and creativity with which Siegelaub operated at the time, but also provides a
further example of media fetishization and points to a utopian belief that technology could
directly produce communication. This view had been held earlier by Walter Benjamin in di-
alogue with Bertolt Brecht, and later by Enzensberger who, referring to Brecht’s essay on the
potential use of radio, noted about mass media generally, “For the first time in history, the
media are making possible mass participation in a social and socialized productive process,
the practical means of which are in the hands of the masses themselves.”25 However, En-
zensberger continues, “in its present form equipment like television or film does not serve
communication but prevents it. It allows for no reciprocal action between transmitter and
receiver.”26 This inadequacy occurs not because of a lack of technology for a two-way flow of
communication, but rather because the social structure of advanced capitalism prevents its
realization.27 According to Enzensberger, without a radical transformation of the basic eco-
nomic system upon which Western society is based, the overarching unidirectional relation-
ship of transmitter and receiver will not be altered regardless of how revolutionary and
potentially communicative the media. This was precisely the situation that confronted
Siegelaub. Although he had discovered the means by which to transmit and disseminate
art to a broader public, the commodity form was not abolished; the basic capitalist eco-
nomic structure remained in place and governed how the art market did business. Thus, to
return to a concrete example, though the Xerox Corporation’s photocopy machine po-
tentially provided an ideal means of aesthetic production, as Enzensberger woefully notes,
“The technically most advanced electrostatic copying machine, which operates with ordi-
nary paper—which cannot, that is to say, be supervised and is independent of suppliers—is
the property of a monopoly (Xerox), on principle it is not sold but rented. The rates them-
selves ensure that it does not get into the wrong hands.”28 Which begins to explain why in the
end Siegelaub was ultimately denied access to the more advanced technology of Xerox
(which was reserved to serve more clearly corporate interests) and had to rely on a conven-
tional printing press for his “Xerox Book” project.
In March of 1969 Siegelaub embarked on a show, “July, August, September 1969,”
that sought to extend over an even greater geographical scope, iterating “a certain interna-
tional sensibility that [he] sensed among artists throughout the world” (fig. 7.1).29 Meta-
phorically alluding to the phenomenon of decentralization rapidly coming to characterize
modern life, the exhibition took place simultaneously in a number of geographical locations
widely separated from one another, but excluding New York City.30 Some of the works were
instantaneous, others only accessible part of the time, and yet others observable throughout
the length of the show and beyond. The trilingual exhibition catalogue was the only site
where the show was presented as a whole.31 According to Siegelaub, the multilingual text en-
abled the show to transcend a limiting locality, furthering “global communications, rather
artists’ rights an
7.1 Cover of July, August, September 1969, 1969
than limited and limiting local distribution.”32 Globalization contributed to the catalogue’s
function as a broad frame, marking the global bounds of the primary information presented
in this international show.
The “July, August, September 1969” show crystallized the key aspects of Siegelaub’s
catalogue-exhibitions. First, the exhibition catalogue was kept as disinterested and neutral
as possible. Introductory comments were conspicuously absent, as were explanatory critical
essays. Second, the works were presented in an undiscriminating way, precluding hierarchy
among the artists. Each artist was allocated the same amount of space: two pages. Third, the
thirty-two pages were divided into two sections, one presenting “primary information” (“the
work itself”) and the other “secondary information” about where and when the material el-
ements that supplemented that primary information could be seen during the show. To-
gether, the two sections functioned to delineate the parameters of the individual pieces
included in the exhibition, thereby making them more comprehensible to the public. In all
cases, however, the catalogue served to present the work throughout the world. By reversing
the relationship and rendering the material in the catalogue primary information and that
at the particular geographical sites secondary information, Siegelaub once again lifted artis-
tic production from its hitherto close connection with physical locality and disseminated it
quickly and broadly. This method of distribution paralleled transformations in the dissemi-
nation of information brought about by contemporary globalization.33
Siegelaub’s euphoria about information going back and forth quickly parallels
McLuhan’s pronouncement of the “global village” in which “electric circuitry has overthrown
the regime of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns
of all other men.”34 Both envision a kind of cyberspace in which culture and, more directly for
Siegelaub, art have reached their ultimate dematerialization, as messages pass instanta-
neously from one nodal point to another across the globe, the formal material world. In this
transformation, with artworks become increasingly phanstasmagoric, existing primarily as
the dissemination of information, the possibility of devising concrete material structures
capable of anchoring ownership seemed more than ever to be an impossibility.
T H E R E C O N S T I T U T I O N O F T H E F R A G M E N T
By the end of 1969, the importance of Siegelaub’s catalogues and the work they exhibited
was broadly acknowledged in North America and Europe. Articles in a wide array of news-
artists’ rights an
papers and journals, including the New York Times, Studio International, New York, Mademoiselle,
even the Financial Times, reported on the “January 5–31, 1969” exhibition.35 The rapidly grow-
ing focus on Siegelaub’s activities culminated in Vogue magazine selecting him as one of the
most likely to succeed in the upcoming decade.36 By mid-1969, in one of the more startling
inversions of the mode of fabrication, exhibition, and distribution that Siegelaub had spear-
headed, not only the totality of his practice but also the work it featured was discussed in the
popular press as “the Siegelaub idea.” Mademoiselle reported that the “essence of the Siege-
laub idea . . . is: the idea is the work of art.”37 This led some to speculate that Siegelaub had
crossed the line and taken on the role of an artist—a role he refused to accept publicly.38
The growing political dimension of Siegelaub’s work was reinforced by the dis-
paraging remarks of critics such as Barbara Rose who, in the summer of 1969, noted that “a
great deal of the new art cannot be bought, sold, owned or traded” in the conventional man-
ner, and warned that “if one wanted to read a political message into recent American art, it
would be that this country is on the way to some form of socialism.”39 Placing Siegelaub’s art
practice in the context of the protest movements of the late 1960s was neither inconsistent
nor far-fetched. In 1969 Siegelaub became increasingly involved in the newfound commu-
nity spirit of the Art Workers Coalition. In April of that year he began to contemplate ways in
which artists might receive more rights and exert greater control over their work. He openly
wondered during the interview with Norvell: “Why don’t artists have a community of inter-
est amongst themselves the way musicians have, an ASCAP [American Society of Com-
posers, Authors, and Publishers] or some musicians’ union. You know, whereas a man can
compose music and be relatively sure that when the music is played somewhere he gets
royalties on it.”40
Parallel, then, to the growing public if not financial success of the artists he repre-
sented, Siegelaub found it imperative to develop an alternative structure to protect their
rights. Though his efforts addressed all artists generally, they were most relevant to the con-
ceptual artists associated with him due to the special nature of their work. As his involve-
ment in the AWC grew, Siegelaub’s antagonism toward the status quo intensified, and his
efforts to decentralize the art world took on a more explicitly political slant. We get a glimpse
of this in his comments to the curator Elayne Varian in a June 1969 interview conducted in
preparation for an article she was writing on new practices of dealing:
I’m involved with the Art Workers’ Coalition, and I’m becoming very, very concerned about being
able to assist in whatever way I can to get artists together to be able to get more power in the com-
munity over their art, over their life issues, and things of this nature. I’m very concerned with things
like unions for artists. And I’m very concerned about the international aspects of what’s going on,
that’s why my catalogues, and all of my books in the future, will be in two or three languages.41
At the same time, Siegelaub’s conception of his function in the art world began to
change. He swiftly shifted from the role of a publicist promoting a small group of artists to a
catalyst for organizing exhibitions, as he referred to himself in April 1969.42 By the end of the
year he divested himself of the artists even further, seeking to “push the interest of art rather
than pushing artists.”43 This transformation was not superficial but structural and systemic.
As he wrote in a letter of 9 May 1969 requesting money from potential sponsors to underwrite
I am presently re-orienting my function in the Art community from that of a so-called ‘dealer-
consultant’ to that of simply a ‘consultant’. . . . I have become interested in the broader communi-
cations between artists around the world. . . . I am concerned about the artists being able to have
their work known no matter where they live—not just artists living in New York.44
Here Siegelaub articulates an idea that would come to fruition only at the end of the century:
the global art world.
His success in fixing his new identity as “consultant” was debatable, since his cre-
ative role in the art world was strong. Indeed when the organizers of “Prospect 69,” Konrad
Fischer and Jürgen Harten, contacted Siegelaub in June 1969 to ask whether he would include
the four artists he represented in their show, he responded by proposing thirteen artists
instead.45 Fischer and Harten ultimately rejected Siegelaub’s expanded proposal, and, reluc-
tantly, the latter agreed to present only the work of Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, and Weiner.46 At
play were the struggle between the art world and market and the dehierarchizing practice of
Siegelaub. The market system demands individual representatives and artists, and it had al-
ready recognized those associated with Siegelaub who had the most potential to succeed.
But in the late 1960s the novelty of Siegelaub’s practice of presentation continued
unabated. For the “Prospect 69” show he presented the work of Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, and
artists’ rights an
7.2 Pages from Prospect 69, 1969
Weiner in the form of a series of self-interviews to appear in the exhibition catalogue, re-
calling the Arthur R. Rose interviews that supplemented the “January 5–31, 1969” exhibition
(fig. 7.2). Whereas the earlier interviews had served as secondary information publicizing the
artists’ work, they now functioned as primary information; the interviews were the work.
Each fragment, formerly incomplete and needing to direct its attention elsewhere, beyond it-
self, toward what was supposed to complete (and also abolish) it, now constituted a whole
artwork in its own right. In the process, publicity took on an “art” status. The tenuousness of
the fragment was superseded by this reconstitution of secondary information as primary.
T H E A R T I S T ’ S R E S E R V E D R I G H T S
T R A N S F E R A N D S A L E A G R E E M E N T
“Prospect 69” was the last exhibition in which Siegelaub exclusively presented the work of
Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, and Weiner. Rather than representing the concerns of a small group
of artists, he now perceived his role to be to disseminate this new, experimental art as widely
and extensively as possible.47 Accordingly, in the twelve months following the summer of
1969, Siegelaub helped organize an unaffiliated series of what he referred to as “large, inclu-
sive chaotic exhibitions.”48 The egalitarian condition of these shows was unprecedented, as
they refused all normative limits previously governing the production and exhibition of art.
Any type of proposal demanded to be considered equal in value to any other, and the role of
artist was open to anyone regardless of training.49
Not surprisingly, given the contradictory nature of much of the highly innovative
art during this period, the opposite reading emerged at the same time. In an April 1969 re-
view of Siegelaub’s “One Month” exhibition in The Nation, for instance, Lawrence Alloway
noted that such “aphoristic or propositional forms of art” integrated the fact that art was es-
sentially “a transmittable commodity” into their very form. According to Alloway, this made
it both more difficult and easier for the dealer to distribute the art. On the one hand, “as doc-
uments or as irreducible presence, . . . the galleries cannot do much to display such work
within the canon of authenticity which is their main source of money.” But on the other hand,
since “the techniques by which art objects are sold can also be applied to the thoughts or the
services of the artist,” “handling coded information rather than precious things” leaves “the
system of distribution of art which the galleries represent . . . basically intact,” and in fact
artists’ rights an
makes the dealer’s job less expensive and more efficient.50 Alloway thus echoes Kaprow’s ob-
servation cited earlier that as art becomes more and more integrated with advertising, deal-
ers will increasingly be able to manage the careers of the new artists.51 Concomitant with
easier and more efficient systems of distribution came an increased anxiety concerning
ownership and authorship. For though the artists themselves may have denied or questioned
traditional concepts of authorship, this did not arrest anxiety concerning authenticity.
Siegelaub had developed a rather efficient means of retailing this art: as early as
1968 he had drawn up “the relevant documents to certify ownership” that would be trans-
ferred to collectors to affirm their property.52 But as he became increasingly politicized in the
immediately following years, this marketing strategy was put in the service of protecting
artists’ economic rights and control over their work, culminating in the Artist’s Reserved
Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement (figs. 7.3–7.5).
Commencing in late 1969 and continuing for the better part of a year, Siegelaub
conducted exploratory conversations in the art world, particularly in New York but also in
Europe, and, with the help of New York lawyer Robert Projansky, drafted a contract that
would safeguard the interests of artists. In January 1971, this draft was photocopied and dis-
tributed at no cost to five hundred people through art schools, universities, galleries, muse-
ums, artists’ bars, and Siegelaub’s by now extensive mailing list, asking for their opinion.53
Then, with the help of the replies received, the final form of the contract was prepared, along
with information about its use, and widely disseminated in a number of contexts and lan-
guages.54 The contract first appeared in Studio International in April 1971, along with Siege-
laub’s explanatory preamble outlining how it was initially conceived and the practical details
of its current use. The instructions read: “1. To begin Xerox or offset a number of copies of
each page of the agreement form.” The easily accessible Agreement, distributed as printed
matter in journals and magazines, was similar in form to much of the art Siegelaub had re-
cently represented. Projansky’s meticulous brief of the legal terms of the Agreement advised
artists who might be interested in employing it without incurring legal consultation fees. The
contract greatly expanded artists’ ability to negotiate sales without relying on galleries or
other such intermediaries. Both comprehensible and accessible, Siegelaub and Projansky’s
Agreement pushed the former’s efforts to reform dominant art market practices. Now artists
could even control the financial aspects of their production.
Broadly speaking, then, the Agreement was a political project that provided the
groundwork for substantive artist empowerment. The hidden inequities and injustices it ad-
7.3 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971
7.4 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971
7.5 Seth Siegelaub and Robert Projansky, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale
Agreement, 1971, as reprinted in Studio International, April 1971
dressed were commonly acknowledged throughout the art world, which usually protects the
collector more than the artist. Siegelaub’s explanatory preface clarified why, in the context
of the uprisings at Kent State and the Vietnam War protests, a contractual approach was
considered more desirable than legislation. This route, Siegelaub wrote, involved “no organ-
ization, no dues, no government agency, no meetings, no public registration, no nothing—
just your [i.e., the artist’s] will to use it.”55 Thus the Agreement circumvented gallery or
bureaucratic intervention, serving as a self-help document in line with the ethos of anti-
institutional trends of the period, such as those crystallized in, for instance, the various edi-
tions of The Whole Earth Catalogue.
The Agreement was designed to thwart the collector’s inordinate amount of “con-
trol” in the art world by giving the artist a number of rights, including the right to some of the
profits from resale or from any other form of commercial exploitation of the work (e.g., re-
production, rentals).56 In addition, Siegelaub and Projansky made clear that the contract was
also appropriate for transfers of ownership by exchange or even gift, thereby protecting the
artist parting with a work without monetary recompense. The Agreement would be binding
on all future owners of the work (who were required to sign the legal agreement) and would
be in effect for the artist’s lifetime. Upon the artist’s death, the rights to the work would re-
vert to the artist’s heirs.57
The most controversial aspect of the Agreement was the right of the artist to par-
ticipate in, and to profit from, any increase in the work’s sumptuary value. Although it ad-
dressed many noneconomic rights, this aspect of the contract rapidly became the focus of
much harsh evaluation and criticism. Many dealers and artists felt that collectors would not
buy art if they could not control the right to use and sell it.58 Further criticism concerned the
effect of the lack of privacy on art collecting; the fact that collectors would be obliged to put
their name on the contract meant that traditionally undeclared cash flowing through the art
world would be recorded. Additionally, there was the flexibility of pricing. At one point Siege-
laub suggested that in certain instances an artist might consider inflating the market value
of the artwork on the contract, since “obviously, the higher the figure you put in, the better
the break the new owner is getting.”59
Although Siegelaub and Projansky’s timely effort capitalized on artists’ growing re-
sentment of art marketing conventions, it also reconceived these conventions in a way that
countered the model of egalitarianism. Siegelaub was very precise about the physical rela-
tionship between the artwork and the Agreement, and he stressed that the Notice concern-
ing Ownership, Transfer, Exhibition and Reproduction of the Work of Art should always be
attached to the work.60 According to his instructions, the Notice might be placed “on a
stretcher bar under a sculpture base or wherever else it will be aesthetically invisible yet eas-
ily findable. It should get a coat of clear polyurethane—or something like it—to protect it. It
won’t hurt to put several copies of the notice on a large work.”61 In other words, the Notice,
which basically functioned as a bill of sale, would become part of the work. In instances
where the art was immaterial and had no physical base, Siegelaub advised: “If your work has
no place on it for the Notice or your signature—in which case you should always use an an-
cillary document which describes the work and which bears your signature and which must
always be transferred as a (legal) part of the work—glue the NOTICE on the document.”62 The
Notice validated secondary information and materialized primary information. Note as well
that the Agreement made a correlation between “Notice” and “signature,” and if authorship
of the new work was linked to copyright, the Notice functioned as a document indicating
copyright. In this transformation, the signature of the artist and its associative sign value
once again became the primary product. In the absence not only of iconicity but also of any
kind of discernible metaphor or allusion, the artist’s signature now came to be what the work
signified. In the process, the attack carried out by conceptual art upon the cultural system
in the preceding years was negated. Regardless of how problematic its form, the work once
again entered the market through the signature of the producer. Drafted to protect the rights
of the artist, the contract functioned to preserve exclusive ownership of the work. Thus
Siegelaub arrived at a concrete solution to his earlier queries of how to market ideas.
Although the Agreement, drafted to help destabilize the calcified art industry, may
have been politically progressive in its intention, it had the opposite effect, leading conceptual
art into what Lippard condemns as “the tyranny of a commodity status and market-
orientation.” For the Agreement’s precise limitations served to confine even work that existed
only as abstract idea or, alternately, only as widely dispersed documentation within its capi-
tal relations, and thus inserted conceptual art into the art market as a pure commodity or bill
of sale. The aura absent from conceptual art was thereby reintroduced in the auratization of
the signature. If conceptual art attacked the privileged nature of art and made the experience
of art collecting more practicable than ever before, Siegelaub’s contract ensured that one facet
of the new art would not be so readily accessible—namely, the experience of ownership.
artists’ rights an
With the success of the artists associated with him, Siegelaub gradually dropped
out of the picture and became a shadow (fig. I.1). Just as the material object of art in some in-
stances gave way to ephemerality and pure concept, Siegelaub too became an idea: “the
Siegelaub idea.” In less than a decade, his identity had shifted from gallery owner to dealer,
organizer, publicist, and catalyst. Just as a catalyst may be necessary in a chemical process,
though it is disjunct from the final product, so too Siegelaub ceased to be involved in the early
1970s when conceptual art was legitimized as a bona fide art movement—but not before he
had succeeded in rupturing a number of the fundamental tenets of the art world, the rever-
berations of which continue to be felt today.
PART I the contradictions of conceptual art
1. Seth Siegelaub, in Michel Claura and Seth Siegelaub, “L’art conceptuel,” Xxe siècle, 41 (December 1973);
reprinted in Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass: MIT
Press, 1999), p. 289.
2. Allan Kaprow, “Should the Artist Become a Man of the World?,” Art News, 63:6 (October 1964); reprinted as
“The Artist as a Man of the World,” in Jeff Kelley, ed., Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life: Allan Kaprow (Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1994), pp. 47–48.
3. Barbara Rose, “How to Murder an Avant-Garde,” Artforum, 4:3 (November 1965), p. 35; Alan Solomon, New
York: The New Art Scene (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), p. 66.
4. John Murphy, President, Philip Morris Europe, in Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, exh. cat.
(Bern: Kunsthalle Bern, 1969), n.p.
5. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 285: “The
process of postmodernization or informatization has been demonstrated through the migration from industry to service
jobs, a shift that has taken place in the dominant capitalist countries. . . . Services cover a wide range of activities from
health care, education, and finance to transportation, entertainment and advertising. The jobs for the most part are highly
mobile and involve flexible skills. More important, they are characterized in general by the central role played by knowledge,
information, affect, and communication. In this sense many call the postindustrial economy an informational economy.”
6. Joseph Kosuth, in Patricia Ann Norvell, interview with Joseph Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Patricia Norvell Archives,
7. In 1971 Siegelaub left the art world and relocated to Paris, where he became involved in cultural-political re-
search and publishing. This culminated in the founding of the press International General and the publication in the
1970s of a number of critical anthologies. See Seth Siegelaub and Armand Mattelart, Communication and Class Struggle,
vol. 1, Capitalism and Imperialism (New York: International General, 1979), and Siegelaub and Mattelart, Communica-
tion and Class Struggle, vol. 2, Liberation and Socialism (New York: International General, 1979).
8. Siegelaub, in Claura and Siegelaub, “L’art Conceptuel,” p. 287.
9. For the beginnings of an analysis of the significant contributions to the early history of conceptual art by artists
who were not male, see Lucy R. Lippard, introduction to c. 7,500, exh. cat. (Valencia, Calif.: California Institute of the
Arts, 1973), n.p.; Lippard, “Deep in Numbers,” Artforum, 12:1 (October 1973), pp. 35–39; Lippard, “Escape Attempts,”
in Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer, eds., Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965–1975, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Museum
of Contemporary Art; Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995), pp. vii–xxii; Anne Rorimer, New Art in the 60s and 70s: Re-
defining Reality (London: Thames & Hudson, 2001), pp. 11–119, 160–171, 189–193; Maurice Berger, “Styles of Rad-
ical Will: Adrian Piper and the Indexical Present,” in Adrian Piper: A Retrospective (Baltimore: University of Maryland
Fine Arts Gallery, 1999), pp. 12–32; and my “Time and Conceptual Art,” in Jan Schall, ed., Tempus Fugit: Time Flies
(Kansas City: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2000), pp. 144–157.
10. See the essays included in Luis Camnitzer, Jane Farber, and Rachel Weiss, Global Conceptualism: Points of
Origin, 1950s–1980s, exh. cat. (New York: Queens Museum of Art, 1999), those in Michael Newman and Jon Bird, eds.,
Rewriting Conceptual Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), and many of the entries in Alberro and Stimson, eds., Con-
ceptual Art: A Critical Anthology.
11. See Lucy R. Lippard, “Postface” (1973), in Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to
1972 (1973; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), p. 263. The most important discussion of the emergence of
conceptual art to date remains Benjamin Buchloh’s “Conceptual Art 1962–1969: From the Aesthetic of Administration
to the Critique of Institutions” (1989), in Claude Gintz et al., L’art conceptuel: une perspective, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée
d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1989), republished in October, 55 (Winter 1990), pp. 105–143. Buchloh identifies the
“major paradox of all Conceptual practices”: that conceptual art’s “critical annihilation of cultural conventions,” its “in-
sistence on artistic autonomy and the demolition of authorship,” as much as its “campaign to critique conventions of vi-
suality,” inevitably ended up miming “the operating logic of late capitalism and its positivist instrumentality” (pp. 139,
140, 143). Yet I will argue that a more dialectical reading of conceptual art’s negation of expression is productive. This
will entail applying pressure to one of Buchloh’s central claims, namely that “it was precisely the utopianism of earlier
avant-garde movements . . . that was manifestly absent from Conceptual art throughout its history” (p. 141). Although
the refusal of a transcendental dimension characterizes key aspects of early conceptual art, other aspects were charged
with as much utopianism as the historical avant-garde. Furthermore, conceptualism was given a utopian gloss not only
by some of its early practitioners and art critics, but also by a newly constituted public around the Art Workers Coalition
in 1969, who found in its practices a parallel to their revolutionary vision.
12. Siegelaub, in Claura and Siegelaub, “L’art conceptuel,” p. 289.
notes to p
313. Daniel Buren, in “Working with Shadows, Working with Words,” Art Monthly, 122 (December 1988/January
1989); reprinted in Alberro and Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, pp. 437–438: “Seth was able to do
a show that was a catalogue; it was possible to put on a show simultaneously in Paris, London, New York and New Mex-
ico; it was possible to do a show in a small village. . . . In the Sixties there was an explosion; we could show anywhere,
and anyone could show.”
14. Lawrence Weiner, “Lawrence Weiner at Amsterdam: Interview with Willoughby Sharp,” Avalanche, 4 (Spring
1972), p. 73; italics mine. The interview was conducted 15 May 1971.
chapter one art, advertising, sign value
1. Carl Andre, Bradford Junior College symposium, 8 February 1968, in Lucy R. Lippard papers, Archives of
American Art, uncatalogued recent acquisition; hereafter abbreviated LRLARCH.
2. See Image. Art Programs for Industry, Inc., brochure in Seth Siegelaub Archives, New York (hereafter
SSARCH), Box 1, File 28.
3. The crucial texts here are those of Paul Dimaggio and Michael Unseem, especially “Social Class and Arts Con-
sumption: The Origins and Consequences of Class Differences in Exposure to the Arts in America,” Theory and Society,
5:2 (March 1978), pp. 141–161; and “Cultural Democracy in a Period of Cultural Expansion: The Social Composition of
Arts Audiences in the United States,” Social Problems, 26:2 (December 1978), pp. 179–197.
4. Sam Hunter, in The Harry N. Abrams Family Collection, exh. cat. (New York: Jewish Museum, 1966), n.p.
Though not a particularly authoritative source on this matter, especially in comparison with the excellent articles cited in
the previous footnote, Hunter’s discernment of the emergence of a new class of art patrons interestingly captures the ten-
sion between the newly arrived collectors and the more established cognoscenti of the New York art world. Note that
Hunter is ultimately disdainful of the new collectors, and of the effect they are having on art production.
5. Two contemporary books on art and finance, Gerald Reitlinger’s The Economics of Taste: The Rise and Fall of
Picture Prices 1760–1960 (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1961) and Richard H. Rush’s Art as an Investment (Englewood
Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1961), discouraged the purchase of contemporary art. Rush, an investment banker whose
book jacket featured a blurb that blared “You can make a fortune collecting art!,” purported to introduce the reader to
the world of art and its market in order to aid the reader in selecting objects that would increase in dollar value. Yet he
warned that “while there exists a great demand for Abstract painting and there is little question that this type of painting
is in vogue in the year 1961, this school may be already over the top in public performance” (p. 409). Dealers found that
their sales directly reflected the patterns of the national economy: “If you can tell me what will happen to the stock mar-
ket,” Arnold Kagan said in 1970, “I can tell you what will happen to the art market.” Joseph Poindexter, “Can the Art Mar-
ket Survive the Recession?,” Auction, 4:1 (September 1970), p. 30.
6. “Sold Out Art: More Buyers Than Ever Sail into a Broadening Market,” Life 55 (20 September 1963),
7. Anonymous, “Vanity Fair: The New York Art Scene,” Newsweek (4 January 1965), pp. 54–59, esp. p. 54. For
an analysis of the market for pop art in the mid-1960s, see Jennifer Wells, “The Sixties: Pop Goes the Market,” in Defin-
itive Statements: American Art 1964–66 (Providence, R.I.: List Art Center, Brown University, 1986), pp. 53–61. For a
good overview of pop art collectors, see John Rublowsky, Pop Art (New York: Basic Books, 1965).
8. Articles appeared not only in Life, Time, and Newsweek, but also in magazines such as Vogue and Ladies’
9. Anonymous, “You Bought It Now You Live with It: The Country’s Leading Collectors of Pop Art Enthusiastically
Fill Their Homes with It,” Life (July 1965), p. 72.
10. Leon Kraushar, cited in ibid., p. 71.
11. Francis V. O’Connor, “Notes on Patronage: The 1960s,” Artforum, 11 (September 1972), p. 52. It is notewor-
thy, too, that although increasingly the desired product in the 1960s was American, the boom in art transcended na-
tional barriers. In 1975, as the Western economies slipped into the first major postwar recession, New York Times critic
John Russell reflected on the economic conditions for art in the previous decade: “That was the 1960s: a boom time for
art. . . . There was so much to be done with art in the 1960s and so much money and so many reputations to be made
out of it. There was the American market and there was the German market, and a Japanese market. Art was treasure
quite literally and anyone who could produce it was hunted as the stag is hunted in the west of England.” John Russell,
“Museum Shows of the 70’s Will Have Less Art and More Content,” New York Times, 18 August 1975, section 2, p. 19.
12. Harold Rosenberg, “Adding Up: The Reign of the Art Market,” in Rosenberg, Art on the Edge (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1975), p. 276.
13. Seth Siegelaub, interview with Patricia Norvell, 17 April 1969, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 46.
14. Seth Siegelaub, in “On Exhibitions and the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in Conversation with Charles Har-
rison, September 1969,” Studio International, 178:917 (December 1969); reprinted in Alexander Alberro and Blake
Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), p. 199.
15. Steven W. Naifeh, Culture Making: Money, Success, and the New York Art World (Princeton, N.J.: History De-
partment of Princeton University, 1976), p. 96.
16. Harrison C. White and Cynthia A. White, Canvases and Careers: Institutional Change in the French Painting
World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
17. The rug business was a partnership, entitled Seth Siegelaub and Robert Gaile Oriental Rugs. The partnership
with Robert Gaile (Robert Galek) began in late 1964. See letter to Joseph Kosofsky (11 December 1964) in SSARCH, Box
3, File 53. Siegelaub’s partner soon departed as the Oriental rug business collapsed, leaving Siegelaub exclusively in the
role of an art dealer.
18. For preparatory notes and press release to this show, see SSARCH, Box 3, File 62. The following artists were
featured in this exhibition: Pierre Clerk, Michael Eastman, Alfred Michael Iarusso, Herbert Livesey, Denis McCarthy,
Lawrence Weiner, and Edward Whiteman.
19. Seth Siegelaub, in SSARCH, Box 3, File 61.
20. Indeed, the happening, which ultimately turned out to be remarkably different from what Siegelaub described
to the Sculls, did receive a surprisingly broad coverage in the local press. Several newspapers (including the New York
Times) noted the event, and in January 1965 John Wilcock of the Village Voice wrote that “the most fascinating (and least
noticed) opening of the season so far was that of Arni Hendin at the Siegelaub Gallery during Christmas week.” John
Wilcock, “What’s Happening with Happenings,” Village Voice, 21 January 1965, p. 2. Other reviews included New York
Times, 6 December 1964; and an unidentified clipping in SSARCH, Box 3, File 61.
21. This point of view was at the time most commonly associated with the dealer Leo Castelli, identified in the New
York Times in 1966 as “the Svengali of Pop Art.” See Josh Greenfield, “Sort of the Svengali of Pop,” New York Times Mag-
azine, 8 May 1966, p. 34. As Jasper Johns famously recalled in a 1970 interview with Emile De Antonio about his pri-
mary impetus for the prodution of Painted Bronze, 1960: “I was doing at that time sculptures of small objects—flashlights
and light bulbs. Then I heard a story about Willem de Kooning. He was annoyed with my dealer, Leo Castelli, for some
reason, and said something like, ‘That son-of-a-bitch; you could give him two beer cans and he could sell them.’ I heard
this and thought, ‘What a sculpture—two beer cans.’ It seemed to me to fit in perfectly with what he was doing, so I did
them and Leo sold them.” Emile De Antonio, Painters Painting: The New York Art Scene 1940–1970 (1972; Montauk,
N.Y.: Mystic Fire Video, 1989).
22. Allan Kaprow, “The Legacy of Jackson Pollock,” Art News, 57:6 (October 1958); reprinted in Jeff Kelley, ed.,
Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life: Allan Kaprow (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 7–9.
23. Active spectatorship dominated the 1960s happenings of Kaprow, who mandated that everyone who attended
one of his events be literally a participant. As New York Times critic Brian O’Doherty wrote in a review of Kaprow’s “Push
and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hoffmann” at the Santini Warehouse in Long Island City: “Mr. Kaprow invites the
participation of his fellow man. He (or they) can rearrange the rooms, re-create them, deface the walls, feel free to change
to more appropriate clothes, relate to the environment in any positive or negative way. After years of ignoring the spec-
tator, art apparently wants to make restitution.” Brian O’Doherty, “Art: ‘Furniture Comedy’,” New York Times, 19 April
1963, p. 40.
24. Sophie Burnham, The Art Crowd (New York: David McKay Company, 1973), p. 25. Note that these figures are
somewhat at odds with those of Steven Naifeh, who claims that there were 287 active galleries in New York City in 1970.
Nevertheless, Naifeh’s account also indicates the proliferation of galleries in New York in the 1960s, from 154 in 1960,
to 246 in 1965, to 287 at the end of the decade. See Naifeh, Culture Making, p. 96.
25. “Kindly note my change of address from 16 West 56 street to 1100 Madison Avenue (82nd St.),” his new form
letter stated. “Along with this change is a change in status from a public gallery to a private dealer.” Noting his change of
address and status, his correspondence also promoted the artists he represented: “I would like at this point to propose
the work of Lawrence Weiner [and] Douglas Huebler,” he wrote Dorothy Miller of the Museum of Modern Art. “You had
seen Mr. Weiner’s show at my gallery in November 1965, but the work has changed substantially since then. Mr. Hue-
bler’s work was seen by you (a small pink Formica piece) at my gallery when you were in to see Pierre Clerk’s show (April
1966). I would welcome the opportunity to show you both of these men’s recent work at your earliest convenience.” See
letter to Dorothy Miller, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, dated 28 October 1966, in SSARCH, Box 3, File 53.
26. See Image. Art Programs for Industry, Inc. brochure, in SSARCH, Box 1, File 28.
27. The premise here is that signifiers and signifieds that have been removed from context can be rejoined to other
similarly abstracted signifiers and signifieds to build new signs of identity. This is the heart of what Robert Goldman and
Stephen Papson call “the commodity sign machine”—a “mercurial process of recombining meaning systems in order to
generate additional value and desirability for brand-name commodities.” See Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson, Sign
Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising (New York: Guilford Press, 1996), pp. 5–8.
28. See C. Douglas Dillon, “Cross-Cultural Communication through the Arts,” Columbia Journal of World Business
(September-October 1971), pp. 31–38; David Antin, “Art and the Corporations,” Art News (September 1971),
notes to p
pp. 22–25, 52–55; George Dent, “The Growing Corporate Investment in the Arts,” Art News (January 1973), pp. 21–25;
Marylin Bender, “Business Aids the Arts . . . And Itself,” New York Times, 20 October 1974, section 3, pp. 1, 3.
29. Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture, Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 25–26: “The 1960s were a time of revolution in American business,
as they were in so many aspects of American life, an era that saw both the rise of market segmentation and a shift from
a management culture that revered hierarchy and efficiency to one that emphasized individualism and creativity. . . . Far
from opposing the larger cultural revolution of those years, the business revolution paralleled—and in some cases actu-
ally anticipated—the impulses and new values associated with the counterculture.”
30. Nina Kaiden, “The New Collectors,” in Artist and Advocate: An Essay on Corporate Patronage (New York: Re-
naissance Editions, 1967), p. 13.
31. John R. Bunting, president of the First Pennsylvania Corporation: “To say that a corporation has a ‘social con-
science’ is simply to say that it acts consistently from ‘enlightened self-interest’.” As cited in Gideon Chagy, The New Pa-
trons of the Arts (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972), p. 59. Indeed, the rapidly emerging trend toward the involvement
of corporations in the arts—between 1965 and 1970 alone corporate support increased by 150 percent (Chagy, p. 15)—
led in 1967 to the creation by some of the most influential U.S. business leaders of the Business Committee for the Arts,
whose aim was to help stimulate corporate arts support. The committee was financed by four major foundations—the
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation—in response
to the Rockefeller Panel Report of 1965 (see following note).
32. The Rockefeller Panel Report was prepared by a group of thirty distinguished foundation executives, artists,
educators, editors, and corporate and labor officials, cooperating under the chairmanship of John D. Rockefeller III.
Among other things, the panel examined the consequences of the decline of the traditional sources of patronage for the
arts and the possibility of generating significant support from Federal, state, and local governments and business cor-
porations. For an outline of the Rockefeller Panel Report, see Chagy, The New Patrons of the Arts, pp. 46–70.
In its survey of actual and potential sources of support for the arts, the panel urged that corporations do more for the
arts than they had in the past: “Corporate dollars are important dollars, capable of making the difference between life or
death for an arts organization. If business corporations have not done so, as most of them have not, the Panel urges that
they look carefully at the arts and their place in the community. Support for the arts is a part of community responsibil-
ity, and a healthy cultural environment is clearly in the self-interest of the business community.” Quoted in Chagy, p. 70.
33. As Chagy puts it in The New Patrons of the Arts, “most businessmen acknowledge that art moves goods in the
marketplace” (p. 38).
34. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), pp. 114–116. Bourdieu’s concept of “cultural capital” covers a wide variety of
resources, such as linguistic competence, erudition, grace, savoir faire, aesthetic preferences, scientific knowledge, and
educational credentials. His point is to suggest that culture (in the broadest sense of the term) can become a currency
deployed in power markets. Bourdieu directly applies this concept to corporations in Free Exchange (Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1995), pp. 16–19.
35. Jean Baudrillard, “Sign Function in Class Logic” (1969), in Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy
of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (St. Louis: Telos Press, 1981), p. 38.
36. Frank, The Conquest of Cool, passim.
37. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 38.
38. The Laura Knott Gallery show ran from 4 February to 2 March 1968; the one at Windham College from 30 April
to 31 May 1968. One of the people in the audience at the symposium that coincided with the exhibition at Bradford Ju-
nior College was the sculptor Chuck Ginnever, who was then teaching at Windham College. Ginnever invited Siegelaub
to organize the second exhibition with the same three artists at his college.
39. Seth Siegelaub, “The Enclosure,” in SSARCH, Box 4, File 80.
40. See Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” Arts Yearbook, 8 (New York: Art Digest, 1965), reprinted in Judd, Com-
plete Writings, 1959–1975 (Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University
Press, 1975), pp. 181–189; and Robert Morris, “Notes on Sculpture,” Artforum, 4:6 (February 1966), pp. 42–44, and
“Notes on Sculpture, Part 2,” Artforum, 5:2 (October 1966), pp. 20–23; both reprinted in Robert Morris, Continuous Proj-
ect Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), pp. 1–8 and 11–21, respectively.
41. Arthur R. Rose, “Three since Windham,” in SSARCH, Box 5, File 111. Emphasis mine. As it turns out, Arthur
R. Rose was a pseudonym of Joseph Kosuth.
Needless to say, the Windham show was not “the first outdoor show.” It was certainly preceded by Kaprow’s Yard
(1961), which, as Robert Haywood shows, was one of the first outdoor, nonillusionistic, antipictorial environmental pieces
in the post-Pollock era in the United States. See Haywood, “Critique of Instrumental Labor: Meyer Shapiro’s and Allan
Kaprow’s Theory of Avant-Garde Art,” in Benjamin H. D. Buchloh and Judith Rodenbeck, eds., Experiments in the Every-
day: Allan Kaprow and Robert Watts—Events, Objects, Documents (New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery of
Columbia University, 1999), pp. 27–46.
42. Siegelaub himself decided that he did not want to moderate this symposium, feeling that the organizational lo-
gistics alone were overwhelming. Weiner suggested that Dan Graham be asked to moderate the event. Graham had by
that time achieved a considerable success as a young artist-critic, and his incisive brilliance in comprehending and ar-
ticulating recent developments in art was widely respected among his peers. He had recently written a catalogue essay
for Dan Flavin’s show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and was a regular writer for journals such as Arts
Magazine, Artforum, and Art and Artists.
43. Dan Graham, Windham College symposium, 30 April 1968, in LRLARCH. The concept of “place” in art dis-
course was in the 1960s associated primarily with Andre, who proposed that the course of development of modern sculp-
ture went from “sculpture as form,” to “sculpture as structure,” to “sculpture as place.” Carl Andre, in David Bourdon,
“The Razed Sites of Carl Andre,” Artforum, 5:2 (October 1966), p. 15.
44. “Place means defining a field,” Graham writes in “Subject Matter,” “as Andre actually did outdoors at Wind-
ham College in 1968, basing his unit of measured size and weight on the base product of the area—bales of hay. . . .
The field is perceptual as it is specific (the literal area). It is a rule that things in the perceptual field tend to be in contact
with the ground (instead of in the air).” Dan Graham, “Subject Matter,” in Endmoments (New York: Dan Graham, 1969);
reprinted in Graham, Rock My Religion: Writings and Art Projects 1965–1990, ed. Brian Wallis (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
Press, 1993), p. 39.
45. Andre explained: “I selected hay because I had to work with materials that were available. It is rather materi-
alistic in the Marxian sense that you can’t do something that does not exist for you. If you don’t have control of the means
notes to p
of production, you can’t produce anything, so you have to find the means of production that you can control. Hay was
this means at Windham College. I always use particles, so a bale of hay was a particle of sufficient size to remain in a co-
herent array.” Carl Andre, Windham College symposium, 30 April 1968, in LRLARCH.
46. Carl Andre, in Phyllis Tuchman, “An Interview with Carl Andre,” Artforum, 8:10 (June 1970), p. 57.
47. Dan Graham, in Anna Nosei Weber and Otto Hahn, “La sfida del sistema,” Metro, 14 (June 1968), p. 52.
48. Of course, a reference to farmed fields is significantly different from a reference to the mass-produced com-
modity. My point, however, is that both deprivilege art to an unprecedented degree and deal with contemporary social re-
ality on a larger level than is normally common for artworks. Yet, whenever his work was discussed in the context of pop
art, Andre was at pains to make clear the differences between the two approaches. At Windham College, for instance, he
stated: “I believe in using the materials of the society in the form the society does not use them, whereas things like Pop
Art use the forms of the society, but using different materials to make those forms.” See Andre, Windham College sym-
posium, in LRLARCH. Rather than the pop artists, Andre at the time cited Judd and Flavin as the artists with whom he felt
aligned “most absolutely in temperament.” Andre, Bradford Junior College symposium, in LRLARCH.
49. Indeed, a good argument could be made that, more than pop and minimalism, it is European arte povera, with
its employment of common, inexpensive materials, that Andre’s Joint most closely parallels. For the beginnings of such
a comparison, see Jean-François Chevrier, The Year 1967: From Objects to Public Things, or Variations on the Conquest
of Space (Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1997), pp. 155–156.
50. Andre, Windham College symposium, in LRLARCH.
51. As Benjamin Buchloh has noted, the condition of the work of art as “the ultimate subject of a legal definition”
had been anticipated in the 1910s by the readymades of Duchamp, and introduced for the first time in 1944 when
Duchamp “hired a notary to inscribe a statement of authenticity on his 1919 L.H.O.O.Q., affirming that ‘. . . this is to cer-
tify that this is the original “ready-made” L.H.O.O.Q. Paris 1919.’” See Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Conceptual Art
1962–1969: From the Aesthetic of Administration to the Critique of Institutions,” in Claude Gintz et al., L’art conceptual:
une perspective, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1989), pp. 118–119. Buchloh goes on to dis-
cuss how this same maneuver becomes “one of the constituent features of subsequent development in Conceptual art,”
resurfacing in the early 1960s in “the certificates issued by Piero Manzoni defining persons or partial persons as tempo-
rary or lifetime works of art,” in “Yves Klein’s certificates assigning zones of immaterial pictorial sensibility to the various
collectors who acquired them,” and in Robert Morris’s Document (Statement of Aesthetic Withdrawal) which legally voids
the aesthetic content of a previous work by Morris entitled Litanies. Yet Buchloh stops this discussion at the work of Mor-
ris and does not explore the directions the employment of a legal certificate of authenticity (and later a contract) would
take in the practices of Flavin, Andre, and, more importantly for conceptual art, the artists affiliated with Siegelaub in the
52. During the Bradford Junior College symposium Andre was asked what was preventing someone who liked his
work from making an exact replica, and he replied in a way that reaffirmed his work’s essentially private nature: “You
could copy one of my works very easily I am sure, but you would have to make sure that, like if you put your name or my
name to one of your checks, you would have to make it clear to the bank that it was a forgery.” Andre, Bradford Junior
College symposium, in LRLARCH.
53. See Frank, The Conquest of Cool, esp. pp. 104–130.
chapter two art as idea
1. Allan Kaprow, “Pop Art: Past, Present and Future,” Malahat Review, 3 (July 1967); reprinted in Carol Ann Mah-
sun, ed., Pop Art: The Critical Dialogue (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989), p. 68.
2. Joseph Kosuth, in Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” Arts Mag-
azine, 43:4 (February 1969); reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1973), p. 146.
3. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 122.
4. For a full bibliography of Kosuth’s writings for Art Magazine, see Joseph Kosuth, Art after Philosophy and Af-
ter: Collected Writings, 1966–1990, ed. Gabriele Guercio (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991), pp. 257–258.
5. See “Exhibitions: A Hint, a Shadow, a Clue,” Time, 14 June 1968, p. 63; Howard Junker, “The New Art: It’s
Way, Way Out,” Newsweek, 29 July 1968, pp. 56–63.
6. Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 61.
7. Joseph Kosuth, interview with the author, 26 May 1994.
8. The journal project collapsed after one issue. See Straight (New York), 1:1 (April 1968).
9. The gallery was named after Lannis Louis Spencer, a cousin of Kosuth’s. Spencer arrived in New York in early
1967 with a great deal of money and wanted to open a poster gallery. Together with Kosuth and Kozlov, they found a
medium-sized art deco space at 315 East 12th Street in New York. Kosuth and Kozlov persuaded Spencer to sponsor se-
rious art shows; they would be responsible for the promotion and Spencer would provide the space. The gallery was
named after Spencer for his material support. Joseph Kosuth, interview with author, 4 October 1993; and Christine Koz-
lov, interview with author, 2 February 1994.
10. See for example G[ordon] D. B[rown], “Kosuth, Kozlov, Rinaldi, Rossi,” Arts Magazine, 41:7 (May 1967),
p. 61; Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” Art International, 12:2 (February 1968), p. 32.
11. Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 56.
12. B[rown], “Kosuth, Kozlov, Rinaldi, Rossi,” p. 61. This exhibition was entitled “Non-Anthropomorphic Art by
Four Young Artists” and featured the work of Kosuth, Kozlov, Michael Rinaldi, and Ernest Rossi.
13. Joseph Kosuth, in Patricia Ann Norvell, interview with Joseph Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Patricia Norvell Archives,
14. See the introduction to Non-Anthropomorphic Art by Four Young Artists, exh. cat. (New York: Lannis Gallery,
1967), n.p. This antisubjective, anti-anthropomorphic discourse was current in minimal art circles and had already been
articulated by, among others, Carl Andre, “Preface to Stripe Painting,” in Dorothy C. Miller, Sixteen Americans, exh. cat.
(New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1959), p. 76; Susan Sontag, “Against Interpretation” (1964), in Against Interpreta-
tion and Other Essays (New York: Delta, 1967), pp. 3–14; Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” (1965), reprinted in Judd,
Complete Writings, 1959–1975 (Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York Uni-
versity Press, 1975), pp. 181–189; and Barbara Rose, “ABC Art,” Art in America, 53:5 (October/November 1965),
reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968), pp. 274–297.
15. Christine Kozlov, in Non-Anthropomorphic Art by Four Young Artists, n.p.
notes to p
16. In an obvious sense, Kozlov’s pictorial operation parallels that of her then-neighbor and friend On Kawara, who
in January 1966 began a series of date paintings. Each of Kawara’s paintings represents a single day—the one inscribed
on the otherwise black monochrome canvas in white letters, numerals, and punctuation marks designated by the actual
date on which the work was made. Supported on 2-inch-deep frames, the canvas is tucked around the sides and fixed
to the back, with both sides painted in acrylic. With some exceptions, each painting is kept in a specially made cardboard
box. Often, part of a page, or sometimes an entire page, from the local daily newspaper is enclosed in the cardboard box.
Similarly, in the “Non-Anthropomorphic Art” show Kozlov exhibited a piece consisting of a pile of calendar strips sys-
tematically canceled and arranged on a display table, and another for which a 16mm film of all-white leader tape was ex-
hibited, placed inside a film canister with the lid removed.
17. Dore Ashton, “Kosuth: The Facts,” Studio International, 179:919 (February 1970), p. 44.
18. Kosuth, in Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” p. 146. Italics mine.
19. The first sentence of Judd’s “Specific Objects” reads: “Half of the best new work in the last few years has been
neither painting nor sculpture.” See Judd, “Specific Objects,” p. 181. Judd declares in a 1964 interview: “I’m totally un-
interested in European art and I think it’s over with.” See Bruce Glaser, “Questions to Stella and Judd,” in Battcock, ed.,
Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, p. 154.
20. Kosuth and Kozlov had changed the name of the Lannis Gallery to the Museum of Normal Art in the summer
21. As Kosuth put it in an early interview, “I certainly came out of a painting and sculpture context, I never was a
poet, never wrote, and so for me words are just a media, but a transparent media.” Kosuth, in Norvell, interview with Ko-
suth, 10 April 1969, Norvell Archives.
22. “These things are thought laudable, agreeable, without much thought,” wrote Judd in late 1964 about the
iconography employed by Lichtenstein, in a language that could easily have been used to describe the iconography
Kosuth employed in his early photostats of dictionary definitions: “No one pays much attention to them; probably no one
is enthusiastic about one; there isn’t anything there to dislike. They are pleasant, bland, empty. . . . The stuff just exists,
not objectionably to many people, slightly agreeable to many. Basically, again, no one has thought about it. It’s in limbo.”
Donald Judd, “In the Galleries—Roy Lichtenstein,” Arts Magazine (December 1964); reprinted in Judd, Complete Writ-
ings, 1959–1975, p. 146. Indeed, the same “pleasant, bland, empty” quality that Judd sees in Lichtenstein’s early paint-
ings of comic strip characters is echoed in Kosuth’s photostats, where one of the earliest definitions is of the word
“empty,” followed by “nothing,” “black,” “white,” “gray,” “water,” “steam,” and other terms that “just exist,” including
what is arguably the epitome of banality, the definition of each of the four cardinal directions: “north,” “south,” “east,”
23. Moreover, Kosuth, like Warhol, was enthralled by Duchamp’s legacy and his persona of the dandy. In this con-
text it is revealing to note that Kosuth even went so far as to take the pseudonym Arthur R. Rose, echoing Duchamp’s
24. John Perreault, “Art: It’s Only Words,” Village Voice, 20 May 1971, p. 24.
25. Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 57.
26. See for instance Rose, “ABC Art.”
27. See Thierry de Duve, “The Monochrome and the Blank Canvas,” in Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press, 1996), pp. 199–279, esp. 244–248.
28. Kosuth, interview with the author, 4 October 1993.
29. Joseph Kosuth, in Jeanne Siegel, “Joseph Kosuth: Art as Idea as Idea,” WBAI-FM New York radio interview,
7 April 1970; published in Jeanne Siegel, Artwords: Discourse on the 60s and 70s (New York: Da Capo Press, 1985), p. 227.
30. This definition of seriality has its roots in the serial music of Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and
Pierre Boulez, and was articulated by Mel Bochner in 1967: “Seriality is premised on the idea that the succession of terms
(divisions) within a single work is based on a numerical or otherwise predetermined derivation (progression, permuta-
tion, rotation, reversal) from one or more of the preceding terms in that piece. Furthermore the idea is carried out to its
logical conclusion, which, without adjustments based on taste or chance, is the work.” Bochner, “Serial Art, Systems,
Solipsism,” Arts Magazine, 41:8 (Summer 1967); reprinted in revised form in Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical An-
thology, p. 100. Although Bochner’s article focuses on the work of Andre, Flavin, and LeWitt, the latter is singled out as
the one who has most integrated these ideas of seriality (in part derived from a synthesis of the work of the former two)
into his work. The result of work that “in procedure, if not in results, . . . very closely resembles some contemporary se-
rialist music,” writes Bochner, is “an interesting example of conceptual art.” Bochner, “Serial Art, Systems, Solipsism,”
Arts Magazine, 41:8 (Summer 1967), p. 42.
31. Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” Artforum, 5:10 (Summer 1967); reprinted in Alexander Alberro
and Blake Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), pp. 12, 16.
32. Joseph Kosuth, “Art after Philosophy III,” Studio International, 178:917 (December 1969); reprinted in Ko-
suth, Art after Philosophy and After, p. 31.
33. Sol LeWitt, “Serial Project No 1 (ABCD),” Aspen, 5–6 (Fall-Winter 1967), n.p.
34. LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” p. 13.
35. Sol LeWitt, “Serial Project No 1 (ABCD),” n.p.
36. The term “text” should be stressed, for it is essentially a substitution of text, or field, for work, or object, that
is carried out by conceptual artists, marking a deep change in the way artists and audiences conceive of the properties
and limits of the phenomena that comprise the domain of art. The text is thus defined as the system of codes coordi-
nating the various propositions activated by the artistic gesture. The crucial essays here are by Roland Barthes. These
include “The Death of the Author,” first published in Aspen, 5–6 (Fall-Winter 1967), ed. Brian O’Doherty, trans. Richard
Howard, n.p., and subsequently in Roland Barthes, Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and
Wang, 1977), pp. 142–148; “From Work to Text” (1971), in Barthes, Image Music Text, pp. 155–164; and “Research:
The Young” (1972), in Barthes, The Rustle of Language, trans. Richard Howard (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1989), pp. 69–75. Note that the reception of the writings of Roland Barthes by New York artistis first takes place
through the pages of the journal Evergreen Review, which in the mid-1960s published several articles by the author in
37. Sol LeWitt, interview with Patricia Norvell, 12 June 1969, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 121–122. For an early account of the ir-
rational dimension of LeWitt’s work, see Lippard and Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” p. 32: “Some of the most
notes to p
rationally conceived art is visually non-sense. The extent to which rationality is taken can be so obsessive and so personal
that rationality is finally subverted and the most conceptual art can take on an aura of the utmost irrationality.” On the dif-
ference between rational and logical operations in LeWitt’s artistic practice see Rosalind Krauss, “LeWitt in Progress”
(1977), in Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1985),
38. The transformation from an art that can be decoded to an art that does not serve any purpose of meaning, rep-
resentation, or signification, other than its proper operational functions, was best articulated by Barthes in “Death of the
Author,” an essay written for the same issue of Aspen in which Sontag’s “The Aesthetics of Silence,” and LeWitt’s “Se-
rial Project No 1 (ABCD)” first appeared. “In the multiplicity of writing,” writes Barthes, “everything is to be disentangled,
nothing deciphered; the structure can be followed, ‘run’ (like the thread of a stocking) at every point and at every level,
but there is nothing beneath: the space of writing is to be ranged over, not pierced.” Barthes, “The Death of the Author,”
in Barthes, Image Music Text, p. 147.
39. Joseph Kosuth, in correspondence to Lucy R. Lippard, 13 May 1968, in LRLARCH.
40. Ibid. It is in this context that statements by Kosuth such as the following to Lippard in 1968 gain resonance:
“I consider my work art and have stated emphatically that they are not paintings or sculptures and have nothing to do
with that specific history.” Joseph Kosuth, in correspondence to Lucy R. Lippard, 6 May 1968, in LRLARCH.
41. Joseph Kosuth, in John Chandler, “The Last Word in Graphic Art,” Art International, 12:9 (November
1968), p. 26.
43. Kosuth, in correspondence to Lippard, 13 May 1968, in LRLARCH.
44. Kosuth, in correspondence to Lippard, 6 May 1968, in LRLARCH. For Kosuth it was neither the act of com-
munication nor the material residue of a communication act but the idea communicated that was of utmost importance.
At the same time, he explicitly stipulated that the idea had to be new. “Art,” he told Howard Junker, “is a matter of doing
what no one has done before.” This pursuit of the new, of new ideas of art, was how Kosuth legitimated his work, and as
the following statement makes plain, it was also the underpinning of his dictum “Art as Idea as Idea”: “‘Art as idea’ was
obvious; ideas or concepts as the work itself. But this is a reification—it’s using the idea as an object, to function within
the prevailing formalist ideology of art. The addition of the second part—‘Art as Idea as Idea’—intended to suggest that
the real creative process, and the radical shift, was in changing the idea of art itself.” Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way
Out,” p. 61.
45. Kosuth, in Norvell, interview with Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Norvell Archives.
46. “Exhibitions: A Hint, a Shadow, a Clue,” Time, 14 June 1968, p. 63.
47. Ibid. John Powers, a Madison Avenue executive who became president of the Prentice-Hall publishing com-
pany, was a prolific collector of pop art.
48. Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 61.
49. Junker: “Museums practically pull contemporary work out of the studios.” Ibid.
50. Joseph Kosuth, “Art after Philosophy I,” Studio International, 178:915 (October 1969); reprinted in Kosuth,
Art after Philosophy and After, p. 23.
51. Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects (1968; London: Verso, 1996), p. 166.
52. Joseph Kosuth, “L’art de la présentation (de l’art),” interview with André Ducret and Catherine Queloz, Archi-
Bref (March 1985); reprinted in Joseph Kosuth, Joseph Kosuth: Interviews (Stuttgart: Patricia Schwarz, 1989), p. 78.
53. Kosuth, in Norvell, interview with Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Norvell Archives.
54. Kosuth related this aspect of his activity to what he had learned from Reinhardt: “What makes [Ad Reinhardt]
an artist isn’t just that he painted black paintings. What those paintings mean is a product of his total signifying activity:
lectures, panel discussions, ‘The Rules For A New Academy,’ cartoons, and so forth. Our experience, and the meaning
of that experience, is framed by language, by information. Seeing is not as simple as looking.” Joseph Kosuth, in Jeanne
Siegel, “Joseph Kosuth: Art as Idea as Idea,” pp. 228–229.
55. Baudrillard, The System of Objects, p. 164.
56. Kosuth was the Director of The Museum of Normal Art. Lannis Spencer was the Chairman. The Trustees
were Richard Bellamy, Dan Graham, Klaus Kertess, Kasper König, Christine Kozlov, Lucy Lippard, Michael Rinaldi, and
57. Richard Bellamy, in Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 61.
58. Junker, “The New Art: It’s Way, Way Out,” p. 61. The fear of a relationship being drawn between conceptual
art and drug culture was real. As one writer put it in 1969, “The influence of the drug culture on concept artists is con-
jectural but one knows that with the use of drugs the borders are erased and separate entities blend into each other. Color
can be experienced as sound, sound as color and immovable objects as movable. The drug culture demands gratifica-
tion now; no object is for the ages. An exploration of inner self with an almost religious fervor is stimulated by drug use.
All are common to concept art.” See Barbara Goldsmith, “Where Is the Art? Join the Concept of the Month Club and Find
Out,” in LRLARCH.
59. Siegelaub had lobbied for the publication of the article in Arts Magazine later in 1968. Although a press re-
lease of the journal cited the article as forthcoming, “Three since Windham” was never published. For the press release
see SSARCH, Box 5, File 111.
60. Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Three since Windham,” in SSARCH, Box 5, File 111. Note that this contradicts what
Andre said at Bradford about art being a way into the world of matter.
63. On 29 November 1968 Siegelaub sent out a form letter to a wide array of critics, collectors, and dealers in the
New York City area announcing that he was planning to open a gallery from 5 January to 31 January 1969, featuring eight
works from each of the following five artists: Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, and Ian
Wilson. Continuing his recent practice of circumventing the established institutional structures of exhibition and distri-
bution by which artistic products were conventionally displayed and disseminated, Siegelaub emphasized that the land-
mark exhibition he was organizing “will be extensively catalogued.” The show, he insisted, “will be unique for a number
of reasons, not least of which will be that the catalogue and the exhibition will articulate some basic ideas regarding ‘con-
ceptuality’ and ‘immateriality’.” See Seth Siegelaub, letter to Patrick Lannan, 29 November 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File
108. In the end Wilson, whose work relied solely on language communicated through speech rather than in written form,
was not included in the show: he and Siegelaub could not come to an agreement about how to present his work in a way
that did not privilege it over the other participants.
notes to p
Siegelaub enlisted the help of another private New York dealer, Manuel Greer, to work out the logistics for the exhi-
bition. Greer in turn informed one of the collectors whom he regularly dealt with, the New York City stockbroker Robert
Topol, about the upcoming show, and on 18 December Topol informed Siegelaub and Greer that an acquaintance who
owned a midtown office building had a space that was free for the month of January. The office space was located on 44
East 52nd Street, between Park and Madison avenues, and consisted of two rooms of equal size. The previous tenants
had vacated the premises in haste in the first weeks of December, and the new occupants would not be moving into the
space until the beginning of February. This was precisely the type of exhibition space for which Siegelaub was search-
ing, since it was completely outside the conventional institutional structures. Thus on 20 December a contract was drawn
up renting the office space to Siegelaub and Greer for the month of January 1969. See contract between Seth Siegelaub,
Manuel Greer, and James F. Mackin, signed 20 December 169, SSARCH, Box 5, File 108.
64. Kosuth, “Art after Philosophy III,” p. 31.
65. Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967),
66. For an overview of the phenomenon of works for magazine and newspaper pages, a quintessential concep-
tual art stratagem, see Anne Rorimer, “Siting the Page: Exhibiting Works in Publications—Some Examples of Concep-
tual Art in the USA,” in Michael Newman and Jon Bird, Rewriting Conceptual Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1999),
pp. 11–26; and my “A Media Art: Conceptual Art in Latin America,” in ibid., 140–151.
67. Lozano was concerned enough about Kosuth’s interest in her artistic ideas to put them down on paper in the
form of a letter (of 4 March 1968) to the artist, copied to Philip Leider and Lucy Lippard: “Dear Joseph, This is to put in
writing our several recent discussions concerning a particular idea I got on February 1, 1968. The idea, succinctly, is as
follows: buy space in the publication of your choice . . . for the time duration of your choice. Use the space in each issue
as a box for the idea or ideas of your choice. Part of the page of an art mag is as good a material for an artist to use as any
other . . . , and your ideas, piggyback as they go, would have guaranteed, fast, wide distribution.” Lee Lozano, corre-
spondence with Joseph Kosuth, in LRLARCH. Lozano was at the time working closely with Graham, and their influence
68. The piece “Existence,” for example, was in four parts. The first appeared in the New York Times on 5 January
1969 and read:
A. Being in the Abstract
The second part was published in the January 1969 issue of Museum News:
B. Being in the Concrete
The third part was inserted into the January 1969 issue of Artforum:
C. Formal Existence
And the fourth and final part appeared in The Nation on 23 December 1968:
D. Modal Existence
The piece “Time” was in five parts, published in five different London newspapers on 27 December 1968: the Times, the
Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Daily Express, and the Observer.
69. Kosuth, in Norvell, interview with Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Norvell Archives.
70. Joseph Kosuth, as cited by David L. Shirey, in “Impossible Art—What Is It?,” Art in America, 57:3 (May/June
1969), p. 41.
71. Joseph Kosuth, in Konrad Fischer and Hans Strelow, Prospect 69, exh. cat. (Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf Kunst-
halle, 1969), p. 27. Kosuth continues: “Anyway, the ‘investigation 2’ series is about a two or three year project consist-
ing of 43 works with 190 separate sections. . . . On a specific level these works deal with every aspect of man’s
cognizance, at least—interestingly enough—in a practical and ‘ordinary’ linguistic sense.”
72. Kosuth: “The first Art as Idea as Idea series—the blow-ups of dictionary definitions—began to disturb me in
their iconic nature, not in a visual sense because I had successfully resolved that, but in the sense of a single, isolated
iconic ‘idea’, with amplified boundaries, and a beginning and an ending. . . . So later I tried to neutralize this ‘iconic’ qual-
ity. I first began this in the second investigation, The Synopsis of Categories, which was in 1968. In this work I used as a
form of presentation whatever was the normal information or advertising media for that society—such as newspaper,
magazine, subway, bus and billboard advertising, or handbills, or television, and so on. It was anonymous of course, so
that meaning was dependent on, first, certain situations we could refer to as ‘cultural functions’ and, secondly, an un-
derstanding (whenever it comes) of the conceptual nature of art.” See Joseph Kosuth, Introduction to The Sixth Investi-
gation 1969, Proposition 14, exh. cat. (Cologne: Gerd de Vries, 1971); reprinted as “Context Text,” in Kosuth, Art after
Philosophy and After, p. 87.
73. Kosuth, in Norvell, interview with Kosuth, 10 April 1969, Norvell Archives.
PART II primary and secondary information
1. Robert Barry, interview with Patricia Norvell, 30 May 1969, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 97.
2. Seth Siegelaub, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art,
notes to p
6 3. Seth Siegelaub, in “On Exhibitions and the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in Conversation with Charles Harri-
son, September 1969,” Studio International, 178:917 (December 1969); reprinted in Alexander Alberro and Blake Stim-
son, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), p. 199. Italics in the original. Note
that this was a self-interview orchestrated by Siegelaub. Harrison appears in name alone; Siegelaub framed all of the
questions and answers. Charles Harrison, in conversation with author, 4 February 1994.
4. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 34.
5. Seth Siegelaub, from Elayne Varian, interview with Seth Siegelaub, June 1969. Tape recording in Finch College
Museum of Art papers, Archives of American Art, Washington. Siegelaub continues: “Sol LeWitt refers to this distinction
between the art and its presentation as the difference between content and form. And we’re just beginning to understand
that content is one thing, and the form is something else.”
7. Seth Siegelaub, from Ursula Meyer, interview with Seth Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH. Segments of
this interview were published in Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972
(1973; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 124–126.
8. Siegelaub: “Communication relates to art three ways. 1. Artists knowing what other artists are doing. 2. The art
community knowing what artists are doing. 3. The world knowing what artists are doing. Perhaps it is cynical, but I tend
to think that art is for artists. No one gets turned on by art as artists do. Of course, a person’s approach to an artist’s work
is necessarily subjective. This is where I come in. The point is to ‘objectify’ the work of the artist. And that is a question
of numbers. It’s my concern to make it known to the multitudes.” Siegelaub interview with Ursula Meyer, November 1969,
in Lippard, Six Years, p. 124. (Italics mine.)
chapter three locations, variables, and durations
1. Douglas Huebler, from Artists & Photographs (New York: Multiples, Inc., 1970); reprinted in Ursula Meyer, Con-
ceptual Art (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972), p. 137.
2. The most significant exhibition at Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art, the “25” show (1–26 March 1966),
included works by John Chamberlain, Joseph Cornell, Willem de Kooning, Phillip Guston, Al Held, Hans Hofmann,
Ellsworth Kelly, Franz Kline, Martin Maloney, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, George Ortman,
Jackson Pollock, Kenneth Price, Ad Reinhardt, David Smith, Jack Tworkov, Lawrence Weiner, Adja Yunkers, and Larry
Zox. Dore Ashton, who was evidently impressed by Siegelaub’s entrepreneurial spirit, helped the young dealer to prepare
this show. Ashton seems to have taught Siegelaub about the logistics of organizing a show of such caliber, for it was an
unqualified success. With unprecedented attendance and several significant sales, this exhibition elevated the visibility
and reputation of Siegelaub’s gallery.
3. Douglas Huebler, interview with Patricia Norvell, 25 July 1969, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 136.
4. Douglas Huebler, statement, in Kynaston Mcshine, Primary Structures, exh. cat. (New York: Jewish Museum,
27 April–12 June 1966), n.p. In this connection it is interesting to note that Dan Flavin wrote in the same year about the
way his fluorescent lamps “lack the look of history.” See Dan Flavin, “Some Remarks . . . Excerpts from a Spleenish Jour-
nal,” Artforum, 5:4 (December 1966), p. 27.
5. Douglas Huebler, in Ruth K. Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part 1,” Ohio Arts Journal (March-April
1981), p. 14.
6. Douglas Huebler, interview with the author, 9 February 1993.
7. Douglas Huebler, correspondence with Seth Siegelaub, 17 February 1966, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
8. Ibid., 7 March 1966.
9. By this time, Huebler had been formally asked by McShine to exhibit a 40 x 40-inch sculpture from the artist’s
so-called Bradford Series in “Primary Structures,” which opened later that year. He had also been invited to exhibit one
of his works in the 1966 “Annual Exhibition of Sculpture and Prints” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is there-
fore not surprising that Siegelaub was interested in representing Huebler, whose work he was promoting already by April
1966. See SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
10. Huebler, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, pp. 136–137.
11. Seth Siegelaub, “The Role of the Frame,” in SSARCH, Box 4, File 80.
12. Samuel Wagstaff Jr., “Talking with Tony Smith,” in Gregory Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology
(New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968), p. 386.
13. By the end of the year Heizer had, according to Howard Junker writing in the Saturday Evening Post, “moved
12 tons of dirt, and carved the mud flats of Nevada and California with 20 ‘negative objects,’ including one 520-mile se-
ries of holes linking eight dry lakes.” Howard Junker, “The New Sculpture: Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty,” Saturday
Evening Post, 2 November 1968, p. 42.
14. When Oppenheim rolled up the fence at the end of the season, the field was marked by huge bare spots, in-
dentations, bringing to mind the “cuts” Andre had made into the gallery in the previous years with his peculiar deploy-
ment of firebricks. But for Oppenheim the photographs taken at the end of the growing season were secondary to the
work. “My feeling,” he explained to Roy Bongartz of the New York Times Magazine in early 1970, “was that the experi-
ence of directing the harvest was the main work, not the pictures.” See New York Times Magazine, 1 February 1970,
p. 27. According to Oppenheim, then, the piece was the actual performance of and chronicling of a system, in which
every step of the process was considered equal. Not surprisingly, when asked in a discussion with Heizer and Robert
Smithson to identify some of the major influences on his work, Oppenheim singled out Andre’s concept of “sculpture as
place” and LeWitt’s concern with systems as opposed to “the manual making and placement of object art” as having had
the greatest impact on his work. See Robert Smithson, “Discussions with Heizer, Oppenheim, Smithson” (fall 1970), in
The Writings of Robert Smithson, ed. Nancy Holt (New York: New York University Press, 1979), p. 174.
15. New York’s Feigen Gallery featured Christo’s work in the exhibition “Macrostructures,” and Dan Graham
included a photograph of Christo’s Lower Manhattan Packed Buildings (1964) in a review of the Feigen show and two other
recent exhibitions. See Dan Graham, “Models and Monuments: The Plague of Architecture,” Arts Magazine, 41:5 (March
1967), p. 32. Furthermore, in “The Dematerialization of Art,” Lippard and Chandler reproduced an image of Christo’s pro-
posal to wrap the National Gallery of Rome both inside and out with heavy brown tarpaulins (Lucy R. Lippard and John
Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” Art International, 12:2 [February 1968], p. 32). Later in 1968 Christo wrapped
the Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland, an activity that he was to repeat several times in the following years.
notes to p
16. Of course, these projects seem to have been completely anticipated by Claes Oldenburg’s monumental pro-
posals of the 1960s that were in many instances impossible to produce or realize.
17. Huebler, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 137.
18. See for instance Douglas Huebler, interview with Irmeline Lebeer, in Chroniques de l’art vivant, 38 (April 1973),
pp. 21–23; and Huebler, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, pp. 135–141.
19. Huebler on various occasions referred to the parallels between his work and that of Robbe-Grillet. See Doug-
las Huebler in “Time,” a symposium at the New York Shakespeare Theater, moderated by Seth Siegelaub and includ-
ing Carl Andre, Michael Cain, and Ian Wilson. Tape recording in LRLARCH. Some (edited) excerpts of this discussion
appear in Lucy R. Lippard, “Time: A Panel Discussion,” Art International, 13:9 (November 1969), p. 22. Also see Doug-
las Huebler, in Ruth K. Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part II,” Ohio Arts Journal (May-June 1981), p. 15.
20. Klaus Honnef, “Introduction,” trans. John Anthony Thwaites, in Douglas Huebler, exh. cat. (Münster: West-
fälischer Kunstverein, 1972), p. 8.
21. Douglas Huebler, in Elaine A. King, Douglas Huebler. 10+, exh. cat. (Evanston: Dittmar Memorial Gallery,
22. Fredric Jameson, “Periodizing the 60s,” in Sohnya Sayres et al., eds., The 60s without Apology (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1984); reprinted in Fredric Jameson, The Ideologies of Theory: Essays 1971–1986, vol.
2, Syntax of History (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), p. 197. Jameson acknowledges Jorge Luis
Borges for this image.
23. In this regard, Huebler’s new works successfully presented “time-motion without anything actually moving,”
as Lippard and Chandler put it in 1968 when describing the operation of the serial structures of another contemporary
artist, Sol LeWitt. See Lippard and Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” p. 31.
24. Douglas Huebler, letter to Seth Siegelaub, undated, spring 1968. SSARCH, Box 5, file 118.
25. Huebler in fact was at the time quite explicit about the mechanized procedure he employed to make photo-
graphs and described it in terms of a shift in focus away from the photographic object (as source and locus of meaning)
to the overarching system or idea that regulates the work: “Of course, by making a dot on a map, you really are covering
perhaps twenty or forty square feet, or circular feet. And there’s no proof that when you get there you’re pointing your
camera, or putting that marker on the exact spot, which is of course part of the point too. It doesn’t matter, you see; it
doesn’t matter. It could have been three feet over, or you could have miscalculated just because your pencil was too thick,
you know. Any number of things. So what it finally comes back to is the idea of these locations, the idea of the system.”
Huebler, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 139.
26. Douglas Huebler, in Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” Arts Mag-
azine, 43:4 (February 1969); reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1973), p. 144.
27. Robert Smithson, in Paul Cummings, “Interview with Robert Smithson for the Archives of American Art/ Smith-
sonian Institute. July 14 and 19, 1972,” published in The Writings of Robert Smithson, p. 155.
28. The descriptive passage read as follows: “On October 22, 1968 a small quantity of dirt was removed from each
of the five sites (each being located approximately 1.33 miles from a central point on the Windham College campus) and
notes to p
9then mixed with an epoxy composition that was cured to finally form a wedge shape. In turn the five wedges so formed
were placed together in such a manner as to describe a small pentagonal shape that was exactly similar to the ‘shape’
created by sites A B C D E. That object, two maps locating A B C D E and five Polaroid photographs of the site formed the
presentation of the piece that was located at the central point (Windham College). Approximately one month later the
‘wedges’ were returned to the earth and the maps, photographs and this statement constitute the completed work.” See
Douglas Huebler, in Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part 1,” p. 14.
29. As is well known, in “Art and Objecthood” Fried warned about the emergence in the 1960s of a condition,
which he termed “theatricality,” that threw the idea that an artwork could offer an experience transcending the material
conditions of its existence irrevocably into a distant and irretrievable past. Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood,” Artforum,
5:10 (June 1967), pp. 12–23; reprinted in Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, pp. 116–147.
30. “The archi-trace,” according to Derrida, is an “erasure of the present and thus of the subject, of that which is
proper to the subject. . . . The concept of a . . . subject necessarily refers to the concept of substance—and thus of pres-
ence—out of which it is born.” See Jacques Derrida, “Freud and the Scene of Writing” (1967), in Writing and Difference,
trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 229.
31. This view of the operation of Smithson’s work is indebted to Craig Owens’s “Earthwords,” October, 10 (Fall
1979); republished in Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, et al., eds., Craig Owens. Beyond Recognition: Representation,
Power, Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), pp. 40–51.
32. Douglas Huebler, from “Conversation between Douglas Huebler and Donald Burgy,” Bradford, Massachu-
setts, October 1971, in LRLARCH. Some (edited) excerpts of this discussion appear in Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The
Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (1973; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996),
33. Douglas Huebler, in Michael Auping, “Talking with Douglas Huebler,” LAICA Journal, 15 (July-August 1977),
34. In particular I am referring to Fried’s concept of pure “presentness,” which aimed to ground the advanced
visual arts in an autonomy of vision that appears as if “instantaneously present,” suspending notions of time and space.
This is a continuation of the late modernist paradigm, especially insofar as the purported aim was to uncover and dis-
play the conditions of vision itself by paring away everything extraneous to vision, separating the visual domain from the
35. Douglas Huebler, in Harald Szeemann, Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, exh. cat. (Bern:
Kunsthalle Bern, 1969), n.p.
36. Huebler, in Auping, “Talking with Douglas Huebler,” pp. 37, 40–41.
37. Seth Siegelaub, memo dated 25 June 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118: “In October 1968, Douglas Huebler
will have an exhibition of the site sculptures. The exhibition will consist of eight sculptures located on as many sites, sit-
uated in the Eastern half of the United States. The exhibition will be seen by travelling from one site to another. The ex-
hibition will be extensively documented with a catalogue (to be published in conjunction with the exhibition in October)
which will contain photographs and other documents pertinent to each sculpture, with appropriate credit to the collec-
tor or institution that has commissioned each sculpture. . . . Each sculpture will be made specifically for each site. It
0 will be unique and immovable. In each case Mr. Huebler will have to see the specific site to determine how it will be dealt
with. The site will to a great extent, determine the nature and size (and cost) of each sculpture.”
38. The works, ten in all, were to be distinguished according to “Site Types,” of which Siegelaub provided a list:
“Flat grass site; Road site; Thick wooded site; Water site; City site; and so on.” The targeted patrons were informed that
a number of works were still available, as only the pieces on the “2 mile diameter site,” the “90 foot slope site,” and the
“thick wooded site” had been sold. In fact, none of these works had been sold. As will become clear in the following
pages, this strategy of conveying misleading information about the availability of works by artists he represented was a
marketing ploy that Siegelaub would use repeatedly in the next few years.
39. On top of that, there would be a flat rate of $750 for the artist’s time and concept. Seth Siegelaub, memo dated
25 June 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
40. Seth Siegelaub, form letter dated 8 July 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118. The letters were sent to six col-
lectors, including J. Patrick Lannan, John Powers, Albert A. List, Burton G. Tremaine, Howard Lipman, and Stephen
Paine. Siegelaub: “This information has been compiled to function as an ‘offer to sell’ the sculpture.”
41. Raymond Dirks was a young stockbroker who underwrote many of the projects organized by Siegelaub. Not
really an art collector, he seems to have provided money at crucial moments in order to be part of the “scene” in which
Siegelaub and the artists affiliated with him maneuvered.
42. Seth Siegelaub, in “On Exhibitions and the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in Conversation with Charles Har-
rison, September 1969,” Studio International, 178:917 (December 1969); reprinted in Alexander Alberro and Blake
Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), p. 199.
43. These works were begun in 1965 and include Scheme (1965), Schema (March 1966) (1966), Homes for
America (1966–1967), Figurative (1967), Side Effect/Common Drug (1968), and Detumescence (1969). The historical
significance of Graham’s magazine pieces was first addressed by Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Moments of History in the
Work of Dan Graham,” in Dan Graham: Articles (Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum, 1978), pp. 73–78; reprinted in Ben-
jamin H. D. Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), pp. 179–201. See also Anne Rorimer, “Dan Graham: An Introduction,” in Anne
Rorimer, Building and Signs, exh. cat. (Chicago: Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, 1981), p. 5.
44. In an important sense the strategy Graham employs is inconceivable without the immediate precedent of the
investigations of reductivism and site specificity in the work of artists such as Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, and Hans
Haacke. From this perspective, Graham problematized the development of site specificity and turned the discussion to
questions of where and how the work is read, to whom it is addressed, and within which social context it functions. The
reconfiguration of public space reflected in Graham’s magazine pieces was informed by pop artists of the early 1960s,
and in particular Ed Ruscha’s strategy, employed in such works as Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1962), Some Los Angeles
Apartments (1965), and Every Building on Sunset Strip (1966), of making the distribution form the work’s point of
45. To supplement the information presented in the catalogue, what Siegelaub referred to in the memo of 25 June
as the “relevant documents to certify ownership,” the latter drew up a “certificate of ownership” which read:
notes to p
1I, Douglas Huebler, hereby certify that the piece known as “_________”, located on the property of _________ or
_________ or _________, located _________ miles, _________ degrees from _________ Bradford, the place of the
artist’s residence (at the time of execution of the “piece”). Attached also find pertinent information that will perma-
nently document the existence of the piece: 1) Photographs, 2) Map, 3) Drawings, 4) Receipt for cost of the “piece”.
Signed ___________ Notarized ____________
See SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
46. The possibility of the documentation replacing or becoming the work was a controversial one that divided
artists at the time. Some, such as Oppenheim, were completely dismissive of the role of documentation, and saw it as
entirely separate from the artistic process to the extent that persons other than the artist should perform it. Others, such
as Robert Morris, were more ambivalent and saw the photograph as having a more metonymic function, as being one
small part of the entire work. For yet others, and here we can cite LeWitt, the documents were an integral part of the whole
artistic process. For Huebler, though, the documents carried the idea. For a more in-depth discussion of the role of doc-
umentation in conceptual art see my “At the Threshold of Art as Information,” in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording
Conceptual Art, pp. 1–15.
47. Douglas Huebler, in Konrad Fischer and Hans Strelow, Prospect 69, exh. cat. (Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf Kunst-
halle, 1969), p. 26.
48. Douglas Huebler in “Art without Space,” symposium at WBAI-FM New York, moderated by Seth Siegelaub
and including Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner, 2 November 1969; transcript in LRLARCH. It took
several years for this point of view to emerge. In the mid-1960s, Flavin’s lamps were criticized precisely for this reason.
See Jacob Grossberg’s and David Bourdon’s reviews of Flavin’s Green Gallery show, 18 November–12 December 1964,
cited in James Meyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 106.
Huebler’s and Graham’s “conceptual” reading of Flavin and Andre shows a sympathy for their practice that many critics
at the time lacked. On the other hand, the reading of their work as conceptual was not one that Flavin or Andre would
have liked either.
49. Siegelaub, in “On Exhibitions and the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in conversation with Charles Harrison,”
50. For Huebler, the question was one of viability. “Some of the pieces I made that summer,” he noted with hind-
sight, “were so unlike anything I’d ever seen that I worried that Seth might regard them as so absurd that he’d call off the
whole project. I knew of no criteria by which to judge what I was doing, no way to know if the work was good, bad, indif-
ferent, or even if it could be regarded as ‘Art’. I was just being swept along by one idea after another that I wanted to try
out, and hoped that Seth would go along. As it turned out he did, and I think that summer proved to be a real education
for both of us.” Douglas Huebler, in Frederic Paul, “Truro, Massachusetts, October 11–14, 1992. Frederic Paul and Doug-
las Huebler,” in Douglas Huebler. “Variable,” etc., exh. cat. (Limoges: F.R.A.C. Limousin, 1993), p. 127.
51. See Seth Siegelaub, as quoted by Jack Burnham, “Alice’s Head: Reflections of Conceptual Art,” Artforum, 8:6
(February 1970), p. 39. Siegelaub’s notion of the groundbreaking aspects of his collaboration with Huebler can be un-
derstood by introducing the contents of a letter he sent to New York Times columnist Grace Glueck on 12 September
2 1968: “This coming November I will be organizing a one-man exhibition of the recent work of Douglas Huebler. The show
will consist of primarily outdoor ‘pieces’ running along the East Coast of the United States. Some of the pieces will be in-
ter-city. For the exhibition I will be publishing an extensive catalog to document the existence of the work. (There will be
a number of works in New York City.) This will be the first time that an exhibition has been treated on such a broad scale,
and the implications of the work will be very important in the future.” Seth Siegelaub, letter to Grace Glueck, 12 Sep-
tember 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
52. Thus for example catalogue no. 14 was an isometric drawing of a 21/2-inch-square plane drawn and described
as straightforwardly as possible. Even a somewhat more complex drawing, catalogue no. 12, was presented in an ex-
tremely matter-of-fact way. It was made up of four horizontal bands of vertical lines, eight in each band, and simply de-
scribed as “Top Row: The ends of eight 1� lines positioned at 90 degrees to the picture plane; 2nd row: eight 1� lines
positioned at 30 degrees to the picture plane; 3rd row: eight 1� lines positioned at 60 degrees to the picture plane; Bot-
tom row: eight 1� lines positioned on the surface of the picture plane.”
53. Huebler refers to Cage as his “soulmate” in his interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording
Conceptual Art, p. 145.
54. The photographs, numbered from one to twelve, are presented in the catalogue with a brief description: “Doc-
umentation: 12 photographs each 21/2 x 21/2 (Photographed at 2 minute intervals). Collection: Mr. Raymond L. Dirks, N.Y.”
Placed on a black background and arranged in three rows of four, they chart the disintegration of the line of sand on the
highway as cars go by, until there is virtually no trace of it in the twelfth and final picture.
55. Douglas Huebler, in Marian Goodman, Artists and Photographs, exh. cat. (New York: Multiples, 1969), n.p.
56. Huebler, in Fischer and Strelow, Prospect 69, p. 26: “The photographs really are documents and as such have
no function as ‘representations’. They complete and complement the language of the statement.”
57. Huebler, in Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” p. 144.
58. Four maps of midtown Manhattan, each equal in size, were traced in ink onto paper (13 x 12 inches). Below
the maps, under the heading “Site Sculpture Project / New York Variable Piece #1,” were the following specifications
hand-written in capital letters: “1. All sites shown as located in Manhattan. 2. A3 B3 C3 D3—markers placed on automo-
biles and trucks thereby being carried into random and horizontal directions. 3. A2 B2 C2 D2—markers placed in static
and permanent location. 4. A1 B1 C1 D1—markers placed in elevators thereby being carried into random and vertical di-
rections.” At the top of the page of the catalogue, below the title, appears the information that the sixteen “markers” em-
ployed to carry out this work are 1 x 5/8-inch oval stickers made of fabric.
59. Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Andy Warhol’s One-Dimensional Art: 1956–1966,” in Kynaston McShine, ed.,
Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1989), p. 45; reprinted (slightly modified)
in Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry, p. 485.
60. See Huebler, in Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part 1,” p. 15: “The intention of the work has never re-
ally been properly understood in that it serves as a possibility for action or interaction between the artist and percipient
through the mediation of the piece itself. . . . Somewhere in between those two things—the art content or the cultural
context and the social or real context—a third kind of discourse or dialectic is produced that IS the content of the work.”
61. Douglas Huebler, in C. C. Cook, Douglas Huebler, exh. cat. (Andover, Mass.: Addison Gallery of American Art,
62. Huebler, from “Conversation between Douglas Huebler and Donald Burgy,” Bradford, Massachusetts, Octo-
ber 1971, in LRLARCH.
63. Huebler, in Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part II,” p. 15.
64. Clement Greenberg, introduction to Three New American Painters: Louis, Noland, Olitski, exh. cat. (Regina,
Saskatchewan: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1963), reprinted in Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criti-
cism, vol. 4: Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957–1969, ed. John O’Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993),
65. As Huebler puts it in Auping, “Talking with Douglas Huebler,” p. 41: “My basic concern, and I would call it
conceptual in this sense, is to point out that there is an equation built, as I’ve been saying, between the perceived image
or sign and the language that directs your attention to the sign. Whether the sign is a photograph, a dot on a page, a se-
ries of photographs or a series of dots or lines, it doesn’t matter. There is a relationship between the visual and the cul-
tural, the language. These signs are givens.”
66. Douglas Huebler, as quoted in Lucy R. Lippard, “Everything about Everything,” Art News, 71 (December
1972), p. 29.
67. Roland Barthes, “Musica Practica” (1970), in Barthes, Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York:
Hill and Wang, 1977), p. 153: “Just as the reading of the modern text (such at least as it may be postulated) consists not
in receiving, in knowing or in feeling that text, but in writing it anew, in crossing its writing with a fresh inscription, so too
reading this Beethoven is to operate his music, to draw it (it is willing to be drawn) into an unknown praxis.” “The artist,”
Huebler wrote in another context, “sets the language of his work but need not designate its meaning.” Douglas Huebler,
in Cook, Douglas Huebler, n.p.
68. Huebler, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 152.
69. Seth Siegelaub, from Ursula Meyer, interview with Seth Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
chapter four the linguistic turn
1. Lawrence Weiner, interview with Patricia Norvell, 3 June 1969, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 136.
2. Weiner had two one-person shows of his paintings at Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art:
10 November–5 December 1964, and 2–27 November 1965.
3. See for instance Harold Rosenberg, “The American Action Painters,” Art News (Decem-
ber 1952), pp. 22–23, 48–50.
4. Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), p. 16.
5. As one critic put it in what is clearly a reference to the similarities between Weiner’s and Lichtenstein’s paint-
ings of the same period: “Weiner’s attack is rather like that of an abstract comic strip artist.” Michael Benedikt, “New York
Letter,” Art International, 10:1 (January 1966), p. 87.
6. Lawrence Weiner, in Willoughby Sharp, “Lawrence Weiner at Amsterdam,” Avalanche, 4 (Spring 1972), p. 67.
notes to p
7. Donald Judd, “In the Galleries,” Arts Magazine (November 1963); reprinted in Judd, Complete Writings,
1959–1975 (Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University Press, 1975), p. 101.
8. McLuhan and Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage, p. 63.
9. Ibid., p. 22.
10. Ibid., p. 53.
11. Douglas Huebler, in Michael Auping, “Talking with Douglas Huebler,” LAICA Journal, 15 (July-August 1977), p. 37.
12. Weiner, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 101.
13. In this sense, Weiner’s Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf is a prime example of the type of work that “depends on
the beholder, is incomplete without him . . . has been waiting for him . . . refuses, obstinately, to let him alone,” as
Michael Fried disparagingly described minimal art a few months earlier in “Art and Objecthood,” Artforum, 5:10 (June
1967), p. 21.
14. Weiner, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 105.
15. The generative role of the title also characterized key works of postminimalism at the time. As with the work
Weiner began in 1968, postminimalist works such as Richard Serra’s Verb List, 1967–1968, also speak of a material’s
manipulation in time.
16. The sticker Turf, Stake, and String was inserted into S.M.S. (New York), no. 5 (1968), n.p., with the words
handwritten on a grid pattern. A brief instructional text encouraged the magazine reader to remove the Kleen-stik cover-
ing and adhere the sticker “to any vertical surface.”
17. The schematic use of typographical design resonates with McLuhan and Fiore’s contemporary theories of lan-
guage. As the authors observe in The Medium Is the Massage, “the introduction of the phonetic alphabet, a medium that
depends solely on the eye for comprehension . . . , is a construct of fragmental bits and parts which have no semantic mean-
ing in themselves, and which must be strung together in a line, bead-like, and in a prescribed order. Its use fostered and
encouraged the habit of perceiving all environment in visual and spatial terms—particularly in terms of a space and of a
time that are uniform” (p. 44).
18. Thus, for example, “a two inch wide one foot deep trench cut across a standard one car driveway”; “one hole
in the ground approximately one foot by one foot by one foot. one gallon water base white paint poured into this hole”;
“one aerosol can of enamel sprayed to conclusion directly upon the floor” are specific statements. On the other hand,
“an amount of paint poured directly upon the floor and allowed to dry”; “a removal to the lathing or support wall of plas-
ter or wall board from a wall”; “a field cratered by structured simultaneous tnt explosions” are general statements.
19. The ambiguity would soon also be played out in translation from one language to another. As he explained in
an early interview, gummiball (“rubber ball” in German) differs from “rubber ball” in English, and “a shallow trench in fif-
teen different countries means fifteen different things. And yet it’s still a shallow trench. White paint in France looks com-
pletely different than white paint in Germany. They use different pigments, different bases, but it’s still white paint. So the
language, really, in my eyes, helps to get away from this thing of what something should look like and just deals with it as
a general thing.” Weiner, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 107.
20. John Anthony Thwaites, “Lawrence Weiner: An Interview and an Interpretation,” Art and Artists, 7 (August
1972), p. 23.
notes to p
21. Here one might recall the type of differential play, the syntax or logic of figural displacement that Jacques Der-
rida discerned in the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé. Writing about a short prose text by Mallarmé‚ “Mimique,” Derrida notes,
“The temporal and textual structure of ‘the thing’ (what shall we call it?) presents itself, for the time being, thus: a mimo-
drama ‘takes place’, as a gestural writing, preceded by no booklet; a preface is planned and then written after the ‘event’
to precede a booklet written after the fact, reflecting the mimodrama rather than programming it.” Jacques Derrida, “The
Double Session” (1970), in Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 199.
In other words, Derrida presents Mallarmé’s writings as the site of a series of textual displacements, complications, and
swerves from origin that make it impossible to know for sure which came first, the mimic performance that was ostensibly
at the origin of his account, or the writing that seems to invent that performance in the very act of recollecting it. In an im-
portant way, this notion of a writing that pays maximum regard to syntax, pressing the signifying potential of language to a
point where it exceeds a logocentric order of meaning or truth, and where writing acquires the kind of spatial quality pos-
sessed by various forms of hieroglyphic or ideogrammic script, parallels what I am arguing is one of the key dimensions of
22. The parallel here is to a metaphor Roland Barthes employs in “The Death of the Author” to elucidate
(post)structuralist analysis: “everything is to be distinguished but nothing deciphered; structure can be ‘threaded’ (like
a stocking that has a run) in all its recurrences and all its stages.” Barthes, “The Death of the Author” (1967), in Barthes,
Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), p. 147.
23. Douglas Huebler, in Ruth K. Meyer, “Doug Huebler: An Interview, Part 1,” Ohio Arts Journal (March-April
1981), p. 15.
24. Lawrence Weiner, in January 5–31, 1969, exh. cat. (New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969), n.p.
25. Weiner repeatedly emphasized this characteristic of his work in the late 1960s. For instance, in the interview
with Norvell, he states: “I want the art to be accessible. . . . See, the price becomes almost unimportant because all the
art’s given away when you think about it. I go through a lot of trouble to get things published all the time. So the pieces
are published, the information is public, anybody that really is excited can make a reproduction. So in fact, the art is all
freehold.” Weiner, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 104.
26. In his interview with Norvell, Weiner explicitly noted that the transformation of the execution into part of the
representation was primarily motivated by an attempt to negate traditional concepts of the unique object and artist from
the art discourse: “In the utilization of just ‘natural materials,’ standard process materials and standard natural resources,
I can help eliminate the unique object. I can even eliminate the unique artist.” Ibid., p. 107.
27. See Brian O’Doherty, “The Gallery as a Gesture,” Artforum, 20:4 (December 1981), pp. 25–34; and O’Doherty,
Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (1986; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
28. Only a couple of years earlier, Roland Barthes theorized (and called for) this transition from author to reader
in “The Death of the Author”: “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (p. 148).
29. Kosuth for instance explicitly acknowledged at the time that the ownership of his work was extremely difficult
to enforce: “The new work is not connected with a precious object—it’s accessible to as many people as are inter-
ested. . . . It can be dealt with by being torn out of its publication and inserted into a notebook or stapled to the wall—or
not torn out at all—but any such decision is unrelated to the art.” Joseph Kosuth, in Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Four In-
6 terviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” Arts Magazine, 43:4 (February 1969); reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed.,
Idea Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), pp. 145–146.
chapter f ive dematerialization
1. Robert Barry, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds., Recording Con-
ceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 93.
2. “Eight Young Artists,” at the Hudson River Museum from 11 to 25 October 1964, also featured work by Carl
Andre, Walter Darby Bannard, Robert Huot, Patricia Johanson, Antoni Milkowski, Douglas Ohlson, and Terrence Syver-
son. See Eugene C. Goossen, Eight Young Artists, exh. cat. (Yonkers, N.Y.: Hudson River Museum, 1964). Barry had met
Newman in the early 1960s through Tony Smith, the former’s M.F.A. advisor at Hunter College.
3. Elisabeth Stevens, Art News, 63:4 (November 1964), p. 53. The show, at the Westerly Gallery in New York City,
ran from 6 to 24 October 1964.
4. Lawrence Alloway, “Background to Systemic,” Art News, 65:6 (October 1966), p. 33.
5. Ibid., p. 32.
6. Sol LeWitt, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 113.
7. Orange Edges was first exhibited in the show titled “Distillation,” curated by Eugene Goossen for the Tibor
de Nagy and Stable galleries in 1966.
8. Eugene C. Goossen, “Distillation: A Joint Showing,” Artforum, 5:3 (November 1966), p. 33.
9. Michael Fried, Three American Painters: Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella (Cambridge, Mass.: Fogg
Art Museum, 1965), p. 40: “[The] first black paintings . . . amounted to the most extreme statement yet made advocat-
ing the importance of the literal character of the picture-support for the determination of the pictorial structure.”
10. The show took place in the Stephen Radich Gallery.
11. Siegelaub had in fact met Barry a few years earlier. In the fall of 1964 when Barry had his first one-person show
at the Westerly Gallery on 56th Street in New York, he had stopped by Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art and introduced
himself to Siegelaub.
12. Robert Barry, interview with the author, 15 October 1992.
13. Robert Barry, Bradford Junior College symposium, 8 February 1968, in LRLARCH.
14. For example, one sculpture made for an interior space consisted of four bright red plastic cubes (one foot on
a side) forming a 20 x 20-foot field. Others were much larger and were explicitly meant for an exterior space. One of these
was made of four white plaster blocks (5 x 5 x 5 feet) arranged in a large square format (75 x 75 feet) in a broad, level,
open expanse of land.
15. One of the sculptures, for instance, featured a block placed in each of the four corners of the exhibition room,
and others presented blocks placed a few feet from each corner.
16. See Robert Morris, “Notes on Sculpture,” Artforum, 4:6 (February 1966); reprinted in Morris, Continuous Proj-
ect Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), pp. 6–8.
17. This is Robert Morris’s idea, introduced in “Notes on Sculpture,” 1966, and “Notes on Sculpture, Part 2,” 1966,
both reprinted in Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily, pp. 1–8 and 11–21, respectively.
18. Barry has since discussed the way in which this painting accented the structural support: “My idea of paint-
ing was that those yellow squares, being put on the wall as delineating a virtual square or rectangle, were involving the
wall itself within the piece and, in this sense, compared to what is usually a work of art, a painting, this piece was some-
how reversing the usual terms of the esthetic proposition. Usually, you see the painting and you ignore the wall. Here you
had the wall coming through the painting—and the painting itself, the painted pieces, become a standpoint to make the
wall appear.” See Robert Barry, in René Denizot, “Discussion: René Denizot, Robert Barry,” It’s about time/Il est temps
(Paris: Yvon Lambert, 1980), p. 9. Indeed, a preoccupation with the delimiting structure of the frame characterized much
of Barry’s work of the late 1960s, as it did the work of Huebler and Weiner. Questioned, for example, during the Bradford
symposium about the nature of his work and the primary concerns that it sought to address, Barry singled out the idea
of extending the parameters of art beyond the frame: “I try to deal with things that maybe other people haven’t thought
about, emptiness, making a painting that isn’t a painting, or that deals with the wall around the painting. For years people
have been concerned with what goes on inside the frame. Well maybe there is something going on outside the frame that
could be considered as an artistic idea.” Barry, Bradford Junior College symposium, in LRLARCH.
19. In turn, the paintings generated a reconsideration of the traditions of viewing and reading works of art, and
questioned the notion that genuine art objects were in and of themselves complete, as Fried would assert in his attack
on minimalism in 1967. See Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood,” Artforum, 5:10 (June 1967), pp. 12–23; slightly re-
vised version in Gregory Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968), pp. 116–147.
20. Robert Barry, in Robin White, “Interview with Robert Barry,” View, 1:2 (May 1978), p. 4.
22. Once the leader had fully run through the projector, Barry would leave it on for another minute, empty.
23. Barry, Bradford Junior College symposium, in LRLARCH.
24. Barry described his untitled piece at Windham College in the context of his films: “When I made movies,” he
explained, “I tried to use the auditorium and the darkness and the sound of the projector. They were an integral part
of my movies. . . . Here, . . . I wanted to use the land, circle it in some way, emphasize it, create something in proportion
to the buildings around it, to the piece of land itself.” Robert Barry, Windham College symposium, 30 April 1968, in
26. The work was thus purely invisible. As Barry explained, the only way it could be detected was with the aid of
a radio: “The wires were so thin and were in certain places stretched so high above the ground that it was virtually im-
possible to see them—or to photograph them. And from that I went to things that could be neither seen nor perceived in
any way. . . . I guess it was the first invisible art. It could not be perceived directly.” Barry, Bradford Junior College sym-
posium, in LRLARCH.
27. Robert Barry, in Ursula Meyer, “Conversation with Robert Barry, 12 October 1969,” in Meyer, Conceptual Art
(New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972), pp. 36–38.
notes to p
28. Robert Barry, in Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” Arts Maga-
zine, 43:4 (February 1969); reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton,
1973), p. 142.
29. A case in point is Outdoor Monofilament Installation (1968), which consists of 65 feet by 43 feet of nylon
monofilament fastened to a large white house and surrounding trees on the property of the collectors, Mr. and Mrs. Robert
Topol of Mamaroneck, New York.
30. Robert Barry, in Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth, Weiner,” p. 142. The dimen-
sions of this “object” were recorded in the catalogue in meters, megacycles, and watts: “10 meters; 28 megacycles;
31. Barry, in Meyer, “Conversation with Robert Barry, 12 October 1969,” p. 37.
32. Barry exhibited an even more unconventional piece, 0.5 Microcurie Radiation Installation, which consisted
of a small amount of barium 133 buried in Central Park, New York, on 5 January 1969. Barium 133, a radioactive iso-
tope, slowly decays and emits radiation over time. According to the amount of barium 133 employed, the piece was
deemed to have a duration of approximately ten years, even though the work would continue to emit smaller amounts
of radiation into the atmosphere for much longer. As Barry explained to the critic Ursula Meyer later in 1969: “Radia-
tion waves are way up in the upper echelon of the electromagnetic wave spectrum; they are much shorter than light
waves. Light will stop at the wall. Radiation will go right through it. A radioactive isotope is an artificial material. It has—
what they call Zero time—beautiful expression! That is the time when it is created. On the label of the small plastic vial
in which it is contained, its ‘Zero time’ is printed. From that moment on it starts losing its energy. Now the ‘half-life’ in
this particular case was ten years, which means that every ten years its energy is decreased by half; but it goes on to in-
finity, it never goes to nothing. Some isotopes have a half-life of a millionth of a second, some have a half-life of four bil-
lion years and some of fifteen minutes: i.e., every fifteen minutes the energy is halved. But it never goes out of existence.
They are perfectly harmless. A world of things can be done with this incredible material. And it is just letting them do
what they are supposed to do. You cannot change a carrier or radiation wave; you can only know what it is supposed to
do and let it do it. That’s enough.” Barry, in Meyer, “Conversation with Robert Barry, 12 October 1969,” p. 38.
33. Carl Andre, in Phyllis Tuchman, “An Interview with Carl Andre,” Artforum, 8:10 (June 1970), pp. 59–60: “I
don’t think of them as flat. I think, in a sense, that each piece supports a column of air that extends to the top of the at-
mosphere. They’re zones. I hardly think of them as flat, any more than one would consider a country flat, just because if
you look at it on a map it appears flat. Again, obviously, they are flat but, that’s curious, I don’t think of them as being flat.”
34. On 3 March 1969 Barry and the patron went to a scientific supply shop and bought one liter of argon and one
of krypton, then traveled to an undesignated site and released the gases. The next day the two repeated the procedure,
this time with one liter of xenon, and on 5 March they released one cubic foot of helium.
35. Talking about this exhibition and the unusual materials employed, Barry said: “I chose to work with inert gas
because there was not the constant presence of a small object or device that produced the art. Inert gas is a material that
is imperceivable—it does not combine with any other element. . . . It goes ‘from measured volume to indefinite expan-
sion’. . . . It continues to expand forever in the atmosphere, constantly changing and it does all of this without anybody
being able to see it.” Barry, in Meyer, “Conversation with Robert Barry, 12 October 1969,” pp. 38–39. Barry continues:
“In the desert we released all kinds of gases: Neon and xenon, the so-called noble gases. The gas is purchased in gas
flasks or tanks. The label on the Pyrex flask might read ‘2 liter Xenon’—yet you see nothing. You have to trust the manu-
facturer. When we released a tank in the desert—in the middle of nowhere—it made a whistling sound. That’s all we
know about its being there” (p. 39).
36. As Barry explained to Norvell, “you see, I sort of allow photographs because they sort of prove the point that
there was nothing to photograph.” Barry, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art,
p. 91. It should be stressed, however, that Barry did not allow any photographs to be shown in the initial exhibition of the
37. See Seth Siegelaub, organizational notes for the “Robert Barry/Inert Gas Series/April 1969” exhibition, in
SSARCH, Box 5, File 117. Six hundred posters were mailed.
38. Such advertising is egalitarian, not privileging any particular consumers. The editor of the trade journal Ad-
vertising Age sheds light on the ideological underpinnings of the “democratic” dimension of advertising: “I’ve always felt
that advertising is one of the greatest democratizers our society has ever known, for it brings the masses information on
new products and services formerly reserved for an elite. . . . What some critics object to, I’ve discovered, is not adver-
tising itself but the fact that it enables everyone to have access to the same information, thereby breaking down one more
barrier between the great unwashed and the self-proclaimed chosen few.” Rance Crain, “Advertising: The Brick and Mor-
tar of Our Economy,” Advertising Age, 30 April 1980, p. 1.
39. Baudrillard argues that spending—“shopping”—elevates the commodity form into sign value. Consumer ob-
jects can then create needs in advance of the consumer’s awareness of a need. See Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of
the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (St. Louis: Telos Press, 1981), esp. pp. 204–212.
40. Jean Baudrillard, “Beyond the Vanishing Point of Art” (1988), in Paul Taylor, ed., Post-Pop Art (Cambridge,
Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), p. 178.
41. Ibid., p. 173.
42. Barbara Rose, “Why Read Art Criticism?,” New York, 3 March 1969, pp. 44–45.
43. Harold Rosenberg, “Adding Up: The Reign of the Art Market,” in Rosenberg, Art on the Edge (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1975), p. 276.
44. That there is a true conceptual art, as opposed to derivative work with conceptual aspects, has been most per-
suasively articulated by Charles Harrison in “Conceptual Art and the Suppression of the Beholder,” in Harrison, Essays
on Art & Language (1991; Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 29–62. Harrison identifies genuine conceptual art
as “critical Conceptual art,” as against “post-Minimal” art with conceptual aspects. The latter is described as a branch
of the various “anti-formal” tendencies of the later 1960s that relaxed the ontological limits of art associated with the dom-
inant art-critical regime of modernism. Art of this sort, Harrison argues, was a secondary consequence to minimalism’s
qualitative shift away from the prioritization of painting and sculpture in modernism to objects, and subsequently, to post-
objects. Furthermore, the beholder of postminimalist conceptual art was reduced to witnessing passively the artists’ spec-
ulations and concepts, and was thereby disempowered to an unprecedented degree. This leads Harrison to maintain that
the aesthetic objects of postminimalism were subject to even more sophisticated forms of mystification than the typical
late modernist art objects. In contrast, “critical Conceptual art” (by which Harrison primarily means the work of Art & Lan-
guage) was not a consequence of minimalist theory, but rather a different response to the conditions minimalism had ad-
dressed. Like minimalism, critical conceptual art realized that if the historicist tendency of modernism was to be opposed,
notes to p
the competencies of the privileged beholder (i.e., the “adequately sensitive, adequately informed, spectator”) posited by
modernism would have to be challenged. This challenge was to be mounted, according to Harrison, by breaching the di-
vision between producers and explainers. Rather than produce an idea object as postminimalism had done, the task for
critical conceptual art was to puzzle discursively at the consequences and implications of abandoning the object alto-
While I do not necessarily want to take issue with most of what Harrison says about Art & Language (though I do dis-
agree with the claim that the practice of Art & Language was a development parallel rather than subsequent to minimal-
ism), I would argue that what he groups under the rubric of “post-Minimal Conceptual art” was in fact a broader and
more diverse range of artistic strategies and practices than can be encompassed by a single category. Furthermore, such
monolithic definitions of postminimalist conceptualism, combined with the emphasis placed on the mediation of mini-
malism by this conceptualist tendency, lead to formulations of the status of the art object and the role of the beholder in
conceptual art that in their narrowness are unable to take into account the equally important impact of other art move-
ments of the 1960s on conceptualism.
PART III artists’ rights and product management
1. Lucy Lippard, from Ursula Meyer, interview with Lucy Lippard, December 1969, LRLARCH.
2. Barbara Rose, “Why Read Art Criticism?,” New York, 3 March 1969, p. 44.
3. Gregory Battcock, “Painting Is Obsolete,” New York Free Press, 23 January 1969; reprinted in Alexander Al-
berro and Blake Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), p. 88.
4. Ibid. Emphasis in the original.
5. Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (1973; Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1996), p. 263.
6. The 1968 Venice Biennial and the Documenta exhibition in Kassel, West Germany, that same year were met
with unprecedentedly large protests. For reports on these protests, see Joseph James Akston, “Editorial,” Arts Magazine,
43:1 (September-October 1968), p. 5; and Lil Picard, “Protest and Rebellion,” Arts Magazine, 44:7 (May 1970),
7. Two days following the confrontation of 3 January 1969, Takis and his cohorts met with several other interested
artists and critics (including Battcock) in the downtown loft of the young art critic Willoughby Sharp. The group decided
to petition others to join them in another action at the museum if their request for an open hearing was not promptly
heeded. Meetings were then held every few days, and the faction grew exponentially. Lowry agreed to meet with six rep-
resentatives of the swelling movement later that month. In the days prior to the meeting, the artists and critics augmented
Takis’s four complaints into “Thirteen Demands,” expanding the conflict beyond the specific incident between Takis and
the Museum of Modern Art to the general state of relations between artists and museums. It was around these “Thirteen
Demands” that the soon-to-be-named Art Workers Coalition (AWC) was formed. For the “Thirteen Demands,” as sub-
mitted to Bates Lowry on 28 January 1969, see “Press Release: Artists Protest against Museum of Modern Art,” 14 March
1969, signed by Carl Andre, Hans Haacke, and Tom Lloyd, in Hans Haacke Archives, Art Workers Coalition file.
8. Many in the growing movement sensed that one of the museum’s greatest fears was a prolonged sit-in by the
artists. Given what had happened in the wake of the large student sit-in at Columbia the previous spring, the perils of a
similar chain of events at the museum appeared to be great. As one observer noted at the time, “last year’s demonstra-
tions in the universities may take place this year in the museums. . . . No one should be surprised if the museums do be-
come such targets, though it is to be hoped for that works of art will not be damaged.” Alex Gross, “Artists Attack MOMA,”
East Village Other, 24 January 1969; reprinted in Art Workers Coalition, Documents, 1 (New York: Art Workers Coalition,
1969), p. 11.
9. The Art Workers Coalition began a concerted campaign to inform artists about these events, and about the
crucial importance of their coming together around these issues. Thus, for example, when Siegelaub, as moderator of a
March 1969 symposium at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theater (organized for the Student Mobilization Commit-
tee to End the War in Vietnam) entitled “Time,” asked Andre to begin the discussion, the latter responded with a plea to
fellow artists to join him in the creation of a new artists’ guild: “I think that it’s time that artists got together to recognize
their social power and social worth. I urge you all to consider joining together with a group of concerned artists called the
Art Workers’ Coalition that has already started to act so they can influence their own destinies rather than be subject to
the cultural institutions of our society. Every artist moans about the way he’s treated, and if we moan together maybe some
of the noise will be heard. That’s the time I feel most strongly right now.” Carl Andre, in “Time,” a symposium at the New
York Shakespeare Theater, moderated by Seth Siegelaub and including Carl Andre, Michael Cain, Douglas Huebler, and
Ian Wilson. Tape recording in LRLARCH. Some (edited) excerpts of this discussion appear in Lucy R. Lippard, “Time: A
Panel Discussion,” Art International, 13:9 (November 1969), p. 20.
Kosuth, who was by this time on the faculty of the SVA, was the intermediary between the AWC and Rhodes. That
very month, Kosuth employed essentially the same medium of offset printing Siegelaub was using for the exhibition and
dissemination of the works of the artists associated with him to produce a replica of the MoMA’s annual pass. Multiple
copies of the fake membership card were printed and openly distributed by Art Workers in front of the museum as an act
10. The flyer announcing the meeting, written, published, and widely distributed by the Public Hearing Commit-
tee of the Art Workers Coalition, stated that “every art worker who wishes to air his views will be permitted to make a state-
ment of his attitudes and complaints about all art institutions and conditions.” Open Hearing flyer, reprinted in Art
Workers Coalition, An Open Hearing (New York: Art Workers Coalition, 1969), n.p. Emphasis in the original.
11. Gregory Battcock, in Art Workers Coalition, An Open Hearing, n.p.
12. Ibid. The very deployment of negation in art was thus theorized as political, insofar as it was meant to suggest
and register the profound complicity of cultural institutions in the Vietnam War as a defense of Western values: some-
thing that also presupposes a high level of investment in official culture and high culture’s influential status in society as
an extension of state power.
13. Seth Siegelaub, in Art Workers Coalition, An Open Hearing, n.p.
14. As Kosuth asserted at the time, “The new work is not connected with the precious object—it’s accessible to
as many people as are interested.” Kosuth, in Arthur R. Rose [pseud.], “Four Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kosuth,
Weiner,” Arts Magazine, 43:4 (February 1969); reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art: A Critical Anthology (New
York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), p. 146.
notes to p
15. Seth Siegelaub, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds., Recording Con-
ceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 39, 40.
16. Open Hearing flyer, reprinted in Art Workers Coalition, An Open Hearing, n.p. Emphasis in the original.
chapter six the xerox degree of art
1. Douglas Huebler, statement in Seth Siegelaub, January 5–31, 1969, exh. cat. (New York: Seth Siegelaub,
2. Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967),
3. See Artforum, 7:3 (November 1968), p. 8.
4. See “The Xerox Book,” also known as Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt,
Robert Morris, Lawrence Weiner (New York: Seth Siegelaub & John Wendler, 1968).
5. To that extent, “The Xerox Book” performs three decades later many of the issues central to Walter Benjamin’s
“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936). In this seminal essay Benjamin unreservedly cele-
brates the available technology capable of enabling art to be truly democratized and made accessible to the masses. He
remains ambivalent about one crucial issue, however, which is the necessary loss of the “aura” of authenticity that oc-
curs in the process of mechanized reproduction. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Repro-
duction” (1936), in Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken, 1968), pp. 217–251.
6. As they note, “‘Authorship’—in the sense we know it today, individual intellectual effort related to the book as
an economic commodity—was practically unknown before the advent of print technology. . . . The invention of printing
did away with anonymity, fostering ideas of literary fame and the habit of considering intellectual effort as private prop-
erty.” McLuhan and Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage, p. 122.
7. Bochner titled the photocopied working drawings Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not
Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art. They were first exhibited 2–23 December 1966 at the Visual Arts Gallery, The
School of Visual Arts, New York. See James Meyer, “The Second Degree: Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on
Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art,” in Mel Bochner: Thought Made Visible 1966–1973 (New Haven: Yale
University Art Gallery, 1996), pp. 95–106. The Working Drawings project was recently documented in an edition pub-
lished on the occasion of the exhibition “Mel Bochner: Projets à l’étude: 1966–1996” at the Cabinet des estampes du
Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva (27 February–13 April 1997).
8. Besides copies of artists’ drawings, Bochner’s Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Nec-
essarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art included photocopied plans of the Visual Arts Gallery and a blueprint of the Xerox
9. Bochner also used the technology of the duplicating machine as a conceptual component of his Working Draw-
ings installation at the Visual Arts Gallery. However, all of the copies were made by him—indeed, most of the artists par-
ticipating in the installation were not aware that their drawings would be duplicated. Furthermore, whereas Bochner’s
multiples (four identical volumes) remained part of an installation, “The Xerox Book” did not exist as an installation but
was explicitly made to be circulated.
10. According to Siegelaub, this meant involving the use of the procedure of “xerography in the communication
of art.” See Seth Siegelaub, letter to Louis Kellner, 9 September 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 110.
11. See Seth Siegelaub, memorandum dated 22 November 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 110.
12. Siegelaub, memorandum dated 22 November 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 110; and McLuhan and Fiore,
The Medium Is the Massage, p. 123.
13. Seth Siegelaub, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds., Recording Con-
ceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 39.
14. On 14 November Siegelaub wrote a letter to the head of the public relations department at the Xerox Corpo-
ration outlining the project and requesting that the Corporation cover the printing costs. “We are presently in the process
of producing a book which will be printed by your Xerox Systems Center in New York City,” wrote Siegelaub. “The book
consists of 25 drawings from each of 7 major contemporary American artists, and will be printed in a xerox/offset pro-
cess. The book implicitly deals with standard Xerox reproduction in the context of a valid fine art medium. The book will
be distributed to Museums, Universities and Art Institutions throughout the world.” Seth Siegelaub, letter to Mr. A. Zipser,
Public Relations Department, Xerox Corporation, 14 November 1968, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 110.
15. The initial Scatter Piece (1967) was made of small identical plastic blocks.
16. As was the case with his earlier scatter pieces, Andre’s project for “The Xerox Book” completely devalued a
single position or fixed point of view, functioning instead, to quote Graham once again, in an “inverse relation” to the tra-
dition of “pictorial linear perspective where the eye (from a fixed viewing position) penetrates inside the frame continu-
ously to reach the vanishing point at the core of the picture.” Dan Graham, “Carl Andre,” Arts Magazine, 42:3 (December
1967/January 1968), p. 35. Of course, the impulse that culminated in Andre’s scatter pieces begins with Mallarmé’s Un
coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (1897), Duchamp’s Three Standard Stoppages (1913), and the collages Jean Arp
produced in the mid-1910s according to the laws of chance.
17. Morris’s piece in this catalogue-exhibition also employed the principle of serial repetition, but it did not put into
practice a temporal dimension such as governed Barry’s One Million Dots. Morris used twenty-five identical reproduc-
tions of a photograph of the planet Earth from outer space. In the deadpan serial repetition there is no development of
form (in terms of line, shape, color relationships, and so on); no conventional linear part-by-part reading logic from one
image to another or from one page to another; no hierarchy of versions or order of facts or ideas within versions.
18. As LeWitt proclaimed in the text that accompanied his first serial work, the artist follows “his predetermined
premise to its conclusion avoiding subjectivity. Chance, taste, or unconsciously remembered forms . . . play no part in
the outcome. The serial artist does not attempt to produce a beautiful or mysterious object but functions merely as a clerk
cataloguing the results of his premise.” Sol LeWitt, “Serial Project No 1 (ABCD),” Aspen, 5–6 (Fall-Winter 1967), n.p.
19. The number one was a vertical line, two a horizontal line, three a diagonal right to left, and four a diagonal left
20. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 42.
21. For instance, ten of the drawings consisted of two dots, A and B, a few inches apart and midway up the page.
Visually, the ten drawings appeared identical. But the captions below described them differently. In one case the caption
read: “A represents a point located 1,000,000,000 miles behind the picture plane. B represents a point located one inch
behind the picture plane.” The drawing thus brought language into visual experience and recognized the primary role
notes to p
language plays in constructing experience, especially when compared to visuality. The potential of language to open the
work up to a large number of people was further amplified by the translation into three languages.
22. See Sol LeWitt, “All Wall Drawings,” Arts Magazine, 46:4 (February 1972), pp. 39–44. The instructions I cite
are from the wall drawing made for the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, January 1970, as cited on p. 40.
23. Lawrence Weiner, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art,
24. Ibid., p. 105.
25. Ibid., p. 102.
26. See LeWitt, “Serial Project No 1 (ABCD),” n.p. One could also draw an interesting link between Kosuth’s work
for “The Xerox Book” and Robert Morris’s Card File (1962). Like Kosuth’s work for “The Xerox Book” which employs the
record of an activity, the mere notation of materials, as the work itself, Morris’s Card File consists of a file of index cards
on which all of the steps, materials, and events that were integral to the production of this object were meticulously
27. McLuhan and Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage, p. 123.
28. Writers and media theorists as diverse as Marshall McLuhan and Hans Magnus Enzensberger acknowledged
the importance of the photocopy machine in the 1960s. See Enzensberger’s “Constituents of a Theory of the Media”
(1970), in Enzensberger, The Consciousness Industry: On Literature, Politics and the Media (New York: Seabury Press,
1974), pp. 95–128.
29. Seth Siegelaub, from Ursula Meyer, interview with Seth Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH. Siegelaub
continues later in the interview: “My interest in art transcends the present establishment’s limited art collector’s scope of
communications. . . . For me power is not recorded in dollars and cents. This is very important. It does not have to do
with things I control but has to do with things I am in a position to make happen.”
30. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 32.
31. Ibid., p. 40.
32. Importantly, the catalogues signaled (and publicized) those works that were already in private collections and
therefore not available for sale.
33. See Herbert Zeltner, “Proliferation, Specialization Mark Media Trends in Past Fifty Years,” Advertising Age,
30 April 1980, p. 155. Several reports indicate that Siegelaub’s employment of advanced forms of advertising seem to
have gotten ahead of his entire marketing operation. As Siegelaub’s then-companion Lucy Lippard recalled in an early
1970s discussion of Huebler’s first “Conceptual ‘show’,” what those people who tracked down the address in search of
a gallery would find was anything but a slick merchandising operation: “The catalogue alone communicated the art to its
audience by mail. The map pieces and ‘site sculptures’ tended to baffle those who received it, especially those who tried
to visit the ‘gallery’ to see the ‘real’ art, only to be met at the door of a rather seedy apartment by the rather seedy ‘dealer’
(Seth Siegelaub) in his usual working costume—bathing suit or undershorts.” Lucy R. Lippard, “Everything about Every-
thing,” Art News, 71 (December 1972), p. 29.
34. Allan Kaprow, “Pop Art: Past, Present and Future,” Malahat Review, 3 (July 1967); reprinted in Carol Ann
Mahsun, ed., Pop Art: The Critical Dialogue (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989), p. 72.
35. Admittedly, large silkscreen editions were a step in expanding the accessibility of the work of art, but they were
still limited editions, and certainly priced at much higher than the $20 for which “The Xerox Book” sold.
36. Kaprow, “Pop Art: Past, Present and Future,” pp. 72–74.
37. Seth Siegelaub, from Elayne Varian, interview with Seth Siegelaub, June 1969. Tape recording in Finch Col-
lege Museum of Art papers, Archives of American Art.
38. Jean Baudrillard, “Beyond the Vanishing Point of Art” (1988), in Paul Taylor, ed., Post-Pop Art (Cambridge,
Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), p. 173.
39. Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” p. 224.
40. Baudrillard, “Beyond the Vanishing Point of Art,” p. 176.
41. Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s observation from 1970 about the media determinism of conceptual art remains
relevant for much art practice today: “Short cuts, of the kind Concept Art peddles,” writes Enzensberger, “are based on
the banal and false conclusion that the development of the productive forces renders all work superfluous. With the same
justification, one could leave a computer to its own devices on the assumption that a random generator will organize ma-
terial production by itself.” Enzensberger, “Constituents of a Theory of the Media,” p. 128.
42. See Daniel Buren, “Critical Limits” (1970), trans. Laurent Sauerwein, in Buren, Five Texts (New York: John
Weber Gallery; London: Jack Wendler Gallery, 1973), p. 52
43. Siegelaub, from Meyer, interview with Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
chapter seven the siegelaub idea
1. Seth Siegelaub, as cited in David L. Shirey, “Impossible Art—What Is It?,” Art in America, 57:3 (May/June
1969), p. 39.
2. John Perreault, “It’s Only Words,” Village Voice, 20 May 1971; reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Idea Art: A
Critical Anthology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), pp. 137–138.
3. The form letter sent to artists inviting them to participate in the “March Show” is dated 21 January 1969. See
SSARCH, Box 5, File 120. Siegelaub began planning for “Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris” as early as 16 November 1968.
See Seth Siegelaub, double entry ledger, January 1968–December 1969, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 109.
4. Seth Siegelaub, interview with Patricia Norvell, in Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell, eds., Recording Con-
ceptual Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 39.
5. As Siegelaub noted to Norvell in April 1969, “by making a piece that is an unlimited edition of, say, a million
copies in the case of big newspapers, or something like that, you’ve ready made your art; you’ve extended your art to a
million people.” Ibid., p. 40.
6. Ibid., p. 51.
7. Ibid., p. 38.
8. Ibid., p. 52.
9. Seth Siegelaub, in “On Exhibitions and the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in Conversation with Charles Harri-
son, September 1969,” Studio International, 178:917 (December 1969); reprinted in Alexander Alberro and Blake Stim-
son, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), p. 201.
notes to p
10. As he put it, “it’s now getting to the point where a man can live in Africa and make great art,” by which he
meant actively participate in the avant-garde art world. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds.,
Recording Conceptual Art, p. 52.
11. In a footnote to “The Industrialization of the Mind,” Enzensberger notes: “No matter how ingenious, no mat-
ter how shrewd and fresh some of [McLuhan’s] observations may seem, his understanding of media hardly deserves the
name of a theory. His cheerful disregard of their social and political implications is pathetic. It is all too easy to see why
the slogan ‘The medium is the message’ has met with unbounded enthusiasm on the part of the media, since it does
away, by a quick fix worthy of a cardsharp, with the question of truth. Whether the message is a lie or not has become ir-
relevant, since in the light of McLuhanism truth itself resides in the very existence of the medium, no matter what it may
convey: the proof of the network is in the network. It is a pity Goebbels had not lived to see this redemption of his oeuvre.”
Enzensberger, “The Industrialization of the Mind” (1962), in his The Consciousness Industry: On Literature, Politics and
the Media (New York: Seabury Press, 1974), p. 171, n. 3.
12. Perreault, “It’s Only Words,” p. 137.
13. See David Held, ed., A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (London: Routledge, 2000),
pp. 49–54. Hardt and Negri describe this compression as a quintessential effect of postmodernization: “In the post-
modernization of global economy, the creation of wealth tends ever more to what we will call biopolitical production, the
production of social life itself, in which the economic, the political, and the cultural increasingly overlap and invest one
another.” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. xiii. In this
regard, also see Fredric Jameson, “Transformations of the Image in Postmodernity,” in Jameson, The Cultural Turn: Se-
lected Writings on the Postmodern 1983–1998 (London: Verso, 1998).
14. Morris’s work, There Are Two Temperatures: One Outside, One Inside (1969), was presented in two parts. Mor-
ris gave Siegelaub instructions to have a 4 x 8-inch stamp made with the title of the piece enclosed by a rectangular black
line with rounded corners. The stamp was then applied to every brown paper towel placed in dispensers in the gallery
building’s washrooms. According to Morris, “the washroom was selected because of the paper towels. Because of how
they are peeled off like the layers of an artichoke. Because of the low keyed delivery. Like a soft, damp, linguistic whis-
per accompanying the wiping. A kind of rustling of words around the hands that reminded of the perpetual banishment
of stasis, of two faces in one: motion and heat. A reminder of that inseparable bond between life and heat, and of that
vague anxiety just out of sight that could have appeared as the crumpled towel fell silently into the receptacle—heat death
but a few million years away.” Robert Morris, correspondence with the author, 31 December 1994. At the same time, a
log documented the daily temperature inside the washrooms as well as the temperature outside of the building during
this show. The log was displayed in the gallery, and every day of the exhibition the temperatures were written in.
Kosuth exhibited another part of his Second Investigation, section II of the first class of Roget’s Synopsis of Cate-
gories, “Relation,” that consisted of three parts: “A. Absolute Relation; B. Partial Relation; and C. Correspondence of Re-
lationship.” This information was presented in the catalogue, where Kosuth also indicated that each part of the category
“Relation” would appear separately and anonymously in a different local publication. The latter included the Lawrence
Eagle-Tribune (3 March 1969), The Quill (20 March 1969), and the Haverhill Gazette (31 March 1969).
15. Seth Siegelaub, from Ursula Meyer, interview with Seth Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
16. See “One Month,” also known as March 1–31, 1969 (New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969).
17. Instead, the work consisted solely of “verbal information” presented in the catalogue, printed in an edition of
2,000 and distributed free of charge. See Seth Siegelaub, notes, in SSARCH, Box 5, File 120.
18. Seth Siegelaub, as cited in Shirey, “Impossible Art—What Is It?,” p. 39. Italics mine. For “One Month,” Siege-
laub sent each of the artists a form letter describing the project and asking that they return to him by post “any relevant
information regarding the nature of the ‘work’” to be published in the catalogue. See Seth Siegelaub, form letter sent to
artists inviting them to participate in “March Show,” dated 21 January 1969, SSARCH, Box 5, File 120. An index of the
thirty-one artists, listed alphabetically, was included in the letter, and Siegelaub went down the list assigning each a day
in the month of March. The catalogue begins with a copy of Siegelaub’s form letter to the artists. The latter are given
three choices: (1) to have their names listed, with a description of their “work” and/or relevant information; (2) to have
their names listed with no other information; and (3) not to have their names listed at all. The artists who did not re-
spond were Carl Andre, Michael Asher, Dan Flavin, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha. But ac-
cording to Siegelaub, for some of these the very fact of not responding was their participation. As Siegelaub recollected
a few months later: “With the March Show I gave each of the artists a day, which was quite presumptuous. And a lot of
people did great things, but there was also absolute terrible shit in there. But I wasn’t really concerned about that. That’s
their responsibility. . . . In all, there were seven people who didn’t participate with a reply. But some of them consider
themselves to have participated just by keeping the page blank, whereas others abstained not wanting anything to do
with the damn thing. That’s their decision, I don’t really care. Some of them felt very uptight about being sent a mimeo-
graphed letter, and they didn’t want to participate because they wanted a more personal approach.” Siegelaub, inter-
view with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 36.
19. In contrast to an object, “it’s not something you have to wait to see until it comes to you.” Siegelaub, from
Meyer, interview with Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH. It was precisely in facilitating the rapid communication
of ideas that the new media were particularly adept. As he explained to Meyer, “Whereas it took years to get a work to Eu-
rope or California, now it takes a telephone call. . . . The idea of swift communication implies that no one has anything.”
20. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 46.
21. Jean Baudrillard, “The Art Auction: Sign Exchange and Sumptuary Value,” in Baudrillard, For a Critique of the
Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (1972; St. Louis: Telos Press, 1981), pp. 115–116.
22. See “Simon Fraser Exhibition,” also known as May 19–June 19, 1969 (Vancouver: Simon Fraser University,
1969). The artists who particpated in this exhibition included Terry Atkinson, Michael Baldwin, Robert Barry, Iain Baxter,
Jan Dibbets, Stephen Kaltenbach, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Lawrence Weiner, and Douglas Huebler. The exhibition cat-
alogue is distinct from Siegelaub’s previous projects insofar as it is clearly divided into two sections. Section One, “Cata-
logue,” presents a list of the artists, followed by the titles and dates of their works. In some cases, a brief description of the
work is included. Some of the descriptions focus on the materials, others on the temporal process of making, and yet oth-
ers on both. Thus for example Dibbets’s Perspective Correction (1969) is described as a 31/2 x 51/2-inch printed postcard,
whereas Barry’s Telepathic Piece (1969) is described as follows: “During the exhibition I shall try to communicate tele-
pathically a work of art, the nature of which is a series of thoughts; they are not applicable to language or image.” In the
case of others, such as Huebler’s Duration Piece #8 (1968), both the material (“rubbed surfaces”) and the temporal pro-
cess of making (“32 days”) are described. For most, however, only the title and date of the piece are acknowledged. These
notes to p
include Atkinson and Baldwin’s two pieces, Hot Warm Cool Cold (1967) and 22 Sentences: The French Army (1968),
Kaltenbach’s Life Drama (1969), Kosuth’s VIII. Eventuality (Art as Idea as Idea) (1968), and Weiner’s A Rubber Ball Thrown
at the Sea (1969). Section Two, “Presentation,” provides information on the means/method through which each piece is
to be communicated during the exhibition. Some of this information is brief, such as that signaling Barry’s contribution:
“At the conclusion of the exhibition (June 19, 1969), the information about the work of art was made known in this cata-
logue,” or Weiner’s piece, which reported that on 23 May 1969 the words “a rubber ball thrown at the sea” were typed in
block letters immediately above the artist’s name on an 81/2 x11-inch sheet of white paper with Simon Fraser University let-
terhead, photocopied, and “distributed in the mailboxes of all students and faculty members and mailed out to all inter-
23. See Seth Siegelaub, letter to James W. Feltner, 15 April 1969, in SSARCH, Box 4, File 73.
24. The teleconference took place on 17 June 1969 at 12 p.m. local (Vancouver) time.
25. Hans Magnus Enzensberger, “Constituents of a Theory of the Media,” in Enzensberger, The Consciousness
Industry, p. 97. See Bertolt Brecht, “The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication” (1926), in John Hanhardt, eds.,
Video Culture: A Critical Investigation (Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1986), pp. 53–55.
26. Enzensberger, “Constituents of a Theory of the Media,” p. 97. Brecht remarked on the same problem in 1926
when he stated, “Radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That
is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit.” Brecht, “The Radio as an Apparatus of Communi-
cation,” p. 53.
27. Enzensberger is quick to note that communist societies are no different from capitalist in thwarting the full re-
ciprocal and therefore political potential of communication apparatuses in order to maintain as much control over infor-
mation as possible.
28. Enzensberger, “Constituents of a Theory of the Media,” p. 100.
29. The exhibition was initially to include thirteen artists, each of whom was asked to “make one work in one lo-
cation anywhere in the world.” Seth Siegelaub, form letter, 16 April 1969, in SSARCH, Box 4, File 75. Siegelaub outlined
how he envisioned the exhibition in a letter to J. Patrick Lannan, 21 April 1969, in SSARCH, Box 4, File 75, requesting
that the latter consider underwriting the show: “The exhibition is the first of its kind, and one of its purposes is to (im-
plicitly) articulate a certain international sensibility that I have sensed among artists throughout the world. . . . The na-
ture of the exhibition transcends any of the traditional sources of patronage (i.e. museums), because the art will be
located in many different places, and not brought together under the (traditional) museum roof.” Only Baldwin and Atkin-
son, who had begun to separate themselves from what they considered “impure” or “existential” conceptual art, refused
Siegelaub’s invitation. Their recalcitrance is significant because it indicates that already by the spring of 1969 the notion
of what could properly be termed “conceptual art” was in dispute. For an early statement of the differences between
Atkinson and Baldwin and the artists associated with Seth Siegelaub, see Terry Atkinson, “From an Art & Language Point
of View,” Art-Language, 1:2 (February 1970), pp. 25–60.
30. Andre’s piece was in The Hague, Barry’s in Baltimore, Buren’s in Paris, Dibbets’s in Amsterdam, Huebler’s in
Los Angeles, Kosuth’s in Portales, New Mexico, LeWitt’s in Düsseldorf, Long’s in Bristol, England, Iain Baxter’s in Van-
couver, Smithson’s in the Yucatán peninsula, and Weiner’s in Niagara Falls.
notes to p
931. Echoing the “Douglas Huebler: November 1968” exhibition, the catalogue for the “July, August, September
1969” show also featured a map on the cover. In keeping with the expanded scope of Siegelaub’s exhibition practices,
however, rather than presenting a map of the United States as had been the case in the earlier catalogue-exhibition, this
one featured a map of the world.
32. Siegelaub, from Meyer, interview with Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
33. By mid-1969 the theme of decentralization and the fabulous potential of the increased speed and breadth of
communications had become the central motivating force of Siegelaub’s exhibition practices. “Part of what’s going on
and prompted me to do this show that I’ll be doing during the summer,” he observed in an interview while organizing the
“July, August, September 1969” show, “is the idea that information is going back and forth so quickly. I like that idea and
can see myself working in this area very much, being able to ship not things but ideas and people, and ideas about things
all over the world very, very quickly. . . . I’d kind of like to spend the time, as I will in the next few months, to begin work-
ing on something that will really begin to speed up the communications abroad, people abroad, ideas going back and
forth.” Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 52.
34. Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Simon and Schuster,
1967), p. 16.
35. See John Perreault, “Disturbances,” Village Voice, 23 January 1969, pp. 14, 18; Gregory Battcock, “Painting
Is Obsolete,” New York Free Press, 23 January 1969, p. 7; Rosalind Constable, “The New Art: Big Ideas for Sale,” New
York, 10 March 1969; Lil Picard, “Art,” East Village Other, 7 February 1969, p. 13; Dore Ashton, “New York Commen-
tary,” Studio International, 177:909 (March 1969), p. 136; Peter Frank, “Variations (VI or Merz(bau) or Whatever,”
Barnard Bulletin, 19 February 1969, p. 7; Grace Glueck, “Art Notes,” New York Times, 16 March 1969; Leo Lerman,
“Export Import: The Siegelaub Idea,” Mademoiselle, June 1969, pp. 116–117; Don McDonagh, “Oh Wall!,” Financial
Times, 16 July 1969.
36. “Bets for the 70s,” Vogue, 155:1 (1 January 1970), pp. 149–150.
37. Lerman, “Export Import,” p. 117. Siegelaub expressed an awareness of this phenomenon in a December
1969 interview with Charles Harrison: “SS: By keeping the exhibition situation as uniform as possible for each and all of
the artists in the exhibition and not relying on outside verbal information like catalogue introductions, thematic titles, etc.,
I’ve tried to avoid prejudicing the viewing situation. CH: This holds good as long as no one can begin to identify a ‘house
style’ in what you do. SS: True. Failure is imminent. Unfortunately over a period of twenty exhibitions one begins to be-
come the theme and the cement; which begins to be as offensive as prefaces, thematic titles, etc.” “On Exhibitions and
the World at Large, Seth Siegelaub in Conversation with Charles Harrison,” pp. 200–201.
38. Witness the following exchange between Stephen Kaltenbach and Patricia Norvell concerning Siegelaub: “PN:
He’s becoming an artist, although he won’t say that. SK: No, he won’t admit it. I’ve tried to get him to admit it.” Stephen
Kaltenbach, interview with Patricia Norvell, 24 May 1969, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 83.
39. Barbara Rose, “Why Read Art Criticism?,” New York, 3 March 1969, p. 44.
40. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 43.
41. Elayne Varian, interview with Seth Siegelaub, June 1969. Tape recording in Finch College Museum of Art
papers, Archives of American Art. Siegelaub continues: “I’m very much concerned about the communication between
0 artists here and in Europe. . . . I would want to be able to create a fabric whereby they can participate in the community
as quickly and as equally as possible. It’s not a question of getting involved in the New York scene, which I think stinks,
rather I want to equalize that. Also, the European art is much more politically aware of what’s going on.”
42. Siegelaub, interview with Norvell, in Alberro and Norvell, eds., Recording Conceptual Art, p. 50.
43. Siegelaub, from Meyer, interview with Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
44. Seth Siegelaub, “Statement of Condition,” 9 May 1969, a memorandum sent to potential sponsors requesting
money to underwrite his future activities; in SSARCH, Box 1, File 3.
45. These included Dibbets, Buren, Kosuth, N.E. Thing Co., Kaltenbach, Ruscha, Atkinson, Baldwin, Weiner, Wil-
son, and Huot. See Konrad Fischer, letter to Seth Siegelaub, 11 June 1969, in SSARCH, Box 1, File 7. Also see Seth
Siegelaub, letter to Konrad Fischer, 27 June 1969, in SSARCH, Box 1, File 9.
46. Fischer and Harten argued that “although we find the suggestion good and the choice of artists excellent, . . .
this sort of presentation by one person does not meet this year’s conception of PROSPECT.” See Konrad Fischer, letter
to Seth Siegelaub, 7 July 1969, in SSARCH, Box 1, File 9.
47. As he explained to Ursula Meyer in the fall of 1969: “For the last few years I have been interested in getting a
certain type of art out into the world. One of the things you have to do is to promote the interest of specific artists. Now I
much prefer to push the interest of art rather than pushing artists, making possible situations in which artists can show
their work. But I no longer want to be responsible for the selection of artists. I prefer to make it possible for other people
to do the type of exhibition they want to do by providing these people with organizational and financial support.” Siege-
laub, from Meyer, interview with Siegelaub, November 1969, in LRLARCH.
48. Seth Siegelaub, letter to Harald Szeemann, 5 July 1969, in SSARCH Box 1, File 7.
49. For an overview of the large “kaleidoscopic” shows of 1969–1970, see Ian Jeffery, “Art Theory and the De-
cline of the Object,” Studio International, 186:961 (December 1973), pp. 267–271; and Bruce Altshuler, The Avant-
Garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), esp. 236–255.
50. Lawrence Alloway, “Art,” The Nation, 7 April 1969, p. 446.
51. See Allan Kaprow, “Pop Art: Past, Present and Future,” Malahat Review, 3 (July 1967); reprinted in Carol Ann
Mahsun, ed., Pop Art: The Critical Dialogue (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989), pp. 72–74.
52. See letters, dated 8 July 1968, sent by Seth Siegelaub to six collectors, including J. Patrick Lannan, John Pow-
ers, et al., in SSARCH, Box 5, File 118.
53. Siegelaub: “We feel that this Agreement form will, in a few months, be the standard instrument for the trans-
fer of all contemporary art. We would like to make it as simple, fair and useful as possible. To do so, we would like your
comments and opinions.” Siegelaub, “Artists Reserved Rights Sale Agreement,” dated 30 January 1971, in SSARCH,
Box 1, File 26.
54. Seth Siegelaub, in “The Artist’s Contract: An Interview with Seth Siegelaub and Bob Projansky,” New York El-
ement, 2:5 (June-July 1971), p. 8: “We are making the plates for the contract forms and the explanatory material avail-
able without charge to any school, museum, magazine, institution—anyone—who wants to reproduce and distribute
them. They are now being translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish, and will soon be distributed in art mag-
azines and in the form of a poster. By the end of this year practically everyone in the art world will have seen this mate-
rial and should be familiar with or at least aware of the contract.”
55. Seth Siegelaub, “The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement,” Studio International, 181:932
(April 1971), p. 144. The first publication of the Agreement (with an explanatory preface by Siegelaub) was in ibid.,
56. Independent of its actual value and therefore possible resale profits, a work of art can be profitable in other
ways, e.g., at exhibitions or by reproduction, either as postcards, printed copies, or in the various forms on sale at mu-
seums, art galleries, and specialty shops. These profits can be high, and consequently the payments made to the artist
employing the Agreement could be substantial. In the Agreement, the artist reserves all the reproduction and copying
rights, which includes the right to authorize reproduction (intellectual property) and to receive payments for this. The right
to exhibit the work is divided between the artist and the owner.
57. Siegelaub, “Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement,” p. 142: “The Agreement is designed to
give the artist: 15% of any increase in the value of each work each time it is transferred in the future; a record of who
owns each work at any given time; the right to be notified when the work is to be exhibited, so the artist can advise upon
or veto the proposed exhibition of his/her work; the right to borrow the work for exhibition for 2 months every five years
(at no cost to the owner); the right to be consulted if repairs become necessary; half of any rental income paid to the
owner for the use of the work at exhibitions, if there ever is any; all reproduction rights in the work. The economic bene-
fits would accrue to the artist for life, plus the life of a surviving spouse (if any) plus 21 years, so as to benefit the artist’s
children while they are growing up. The artist would maintain aesthetic control only for his/her lifetime.”
58. As the dealer André Emmerich states: “It would be the death to the art business.” See Douglas Davis, “New
Deal for Art?,” Newsweek, 29 March 1971, p. 67.
59. Siegelaub, “Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement,” p. 143.
60. Ibid. Siegelaub continues: “Before the work is delivered, be sure that a copy of the NOTICE is affixed to the
notes to p
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution,
Carl Andre Papers
Gregory Battcock Papers
Finch College Museum of Art Papers
Lucy R. Lippard Papers
Robert Smithson Papers
Leo Castelli Gallery Archives, New York City
Robert Barry Papers
Douglas Huebler Papers
Joseph Kosuth Papers
Robert Morris Papers
Lawrence Weiner Papers
Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City
Carl Andre Papers
Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Papers
Fairleigh Dickinson University Archives, Madison,
New York Cultural Center Papers
Sonnabend Gallery Archives, New York City
Mel Bochner Papers
John Weber Gallery Archives, New York City
Daniel Buren Papers
Sol LeWitt Papers
Robert Barry Archives, Teaneck, New Jersey
Daniel Buren Archives, Paris
Raymond Dirks Archives, New York City
Dan Graham Archives, New York City
Hans Haacke Archives, New York City
Jon Hendricks Archives, New York City
Joseph Kosuth Archives, New York City
Christine Kozlov Archives, London
Ursula Meyer Archives, New York City
Patricia Norvell Archives, New York City
Brian O’Doherty Archives, New York City
Theresa Schwartz Archives, New York City
Seth Siegelaub Archives, Teaneck, New Jersey,
Lawrence Weiner Archives, New York City
Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory.
Ed. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann. Trans. Robert Hullot-
Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998.
Adorno, Theodor W. Philosophy of Modern Music.
Trans. Anne G. Mitchell and Wesley V. Blomster. New York:
Seabury Press, 1973.
Advertising Age. Special 50th Anniversary Issue.
30 April 1980.
Alberro, Alexander, and Patricia Norvell, eds.
Recording Conceptual Art.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Alberro, Alexander, and Blake Stimson, eds.
Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.
Alloway, Lawrence. “Network:
The Artworld Described as a System.”
Artforum, 11:1 (September 1972), pp. 28–32.
Alloway, Lawrence. Topics in American Art since 1945.
New York: W. W. Norton, 1975.
3Altshuler, Bruce J. The Avant-Garde in Exhibition:
New Art in the Twentieth Century.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994.
Antin, David. “Art and the Corporations.”
Art News (September 1971), pp. 22–25, 52–55.
Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Joan Rothfuss.
In the Spirit of Fluxus.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1993.
Armstrong, Richard, and Richard Marshall.
The New Sculpture 1965–75:
Between Geometry and Gesture.
Exh. cat. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1990.
Art in Process IV.
Exh. cat. New York: Finch College Museum of Art, 1969.
Art in Process: The Visual Development of a Structure.
Exh. cat. New York: Finch College Museum of Art, 1966.
Art in Series.
Exh. cat. New York: Finch College Museum of Art, 1968.
Art in the Mind.
Exh. cat. Oberlin, Ohio: Allen Memorial Art Museum,
Oberlin College, 1970.
(Coventry, England), 1:1 (May 1969).
Art Workers Coalition. Documents 1.
New York: Art Workers Coalition, 1969.
Art Workers Coalition. An Open Hearing on the Subject:
What Should Be the Program of the Art Workers
Regarding Museum Reform and to Establish the
Program of an Open Art Workers Coalition.
New York: Art Workers Coalition, 1969.
Ashton, Dore. “New York Commentary.”
Studio International, 177:909 (March 1969), pp. 135–137.
Atkinson, Terry. “From an Art & Language Point of View.”
Art-Language, 1:2 (February 1970), pp. 25–60.
Auping, Michael. “Talking with Douglas Huebler.”
LAICA Journal, 15 (July-August 1977), pp. 37–44.
Barthes, Roland. Critical Essays.
Trans. Richard Howard. Evanston: Northwestern University
Barthes, Roland. Image Music Text.
Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977.
Barthes, Roland. The Rustle of Language.
Trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley: University of California
Battcock, Gregory, ed. Idea Art: A Critical Anthology.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973.
Battcock, Gregory, ed. Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968.
Battcock, Gregory, ed.
The New Art: A Critical Anthology.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1966.
Baudrillard, Jean. “De la marchandise absolue.”
Artstudio, 8 (Spring 1988), pp. 6–12.
Baudrillard, Jean. For a Critique of the Political
Economy of the Sign.
Trans. Charles Levin. St. Louis: Telos Press, 1981.
Baudrillard, Jean. The System of Objects.
Trans. James Benedict. London: Verso, 1996.
Becker, Howard. Art Worlds.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
Belford, Marilyn, and Jerry Herman, eds.
Time and Space Concepts in Art.
New York: Pleiades Gallery, 1980.
Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations.
Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn.
New York: Schocken Books, 1969.
Berger, Maurice. Labyrinths: Robert Morris,
Minimalism, and the 1960s.
New York: Harper and Row, 1989.
“Bets for the 70’s.”
Vogue Magazine, 155:1 (1 January 1970), pp. 146–153.
Bloom, Alexander, and Wini Breines, eds.
“Takin’ It to the Streets”: A Sixties Reader.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
4 Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence:
A Theory of Poetry.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.
Bochner, Mel. “Art In Process—Structures.”
Arts Magazine, 40:9 (September-October 1966), pp. 38–39.
Bochner, Mel. “Primary Structures: A Declaration of
a New Attitude as Revealed by an Important
Arts Magazine, 40:8 (June 1966), pp. 32–35.
Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of
the Judgment of Taste.
Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Brecht, Bertolt. “The Radio as an Apparatus of
In John Hanhardt, ed., Video Culture: A Critical
Investigation. Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop
Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. “Conceptual Art 1962–1969:
From the Aesthetic of Administration to the
Critique of Institutions.”
October, 55 (Winter 1990), pp. 105–143.
Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. Neo-Avantgarde and Culture
Industry: Essays on European and American Art
from 1955 to 1975.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.
Buchloh, Benjamin H. D. “Reply to Joseph Kosuth and
October, 57 (Summer 1991), pp. 158–161.
Buchloh, Benjamin H. D., and Judith Rodenbeck, eds.
Experiments in the Everyday: Allan Kaprow and
Robert Watts, Events, Objects, Documents.
New York: Columbia University, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach
Art Gallery, 1999.
Buck-Morss, Susan. The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter
Benjamin and the Arcades Project.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989.
Buren, Daniel. Les écrits (1965–1990).
3 vols. Ed. Jean-Marc Poinsot. Bordeaux: Centre d’art
plastique contemporain, Musée d’art contemporain, 1991.
Bürger, Peter. The Theory of the Avant-Garde.
Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
Burgin, Victor. The End of Art Theory: Criticism and
Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International,
Burgin, Victor. “Situational Aesthetics.”
Studio International, 178:915 (October 1969), pp. 118–121.
Burnham, Jack. Great Western Salt Works: Essays on the
Meaning of Post-Formalist Art.
New York: George Braziller, 1974.
Burnham, Sophie. The Art Crowd.
New York: David McKay, 1973.
Exh. cat. Valencia: California Institute of the Arts, 1973.
Camnitzer, Luis, Jane Farber, and Rachel Weiss. Global
Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s.
Exh. cat. New York: Queens Museum of Art, 1999.
Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph
Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Lawrence
Weiner. [“The Xerox Book.”]
Exh. cat. New York: Seth Siegelaub and Jack Wendler,
Cavallo, Dominick. A Fiction of the Past: The Sixties in
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
Celant, Germano. Arte Povera: Art Povera: Earthworks,
Impossible Art, Actual Art, Conceptual Art.
New York: Praeger, 1969.
Celant, Germano. “Book as Artwork 1960/1970.”
Data, 1:1 (September 1971), pp. 35–49.
Celant, Germano. “Conceptual Art, Part One.”
Casabella, 34:347 (April 1970), pp. 42–49.
Chagy, Gideon. The New Patrons of the Arts.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972.
5Chevrier, Jean-François. The Year 1967 from Art
Objects to Public Things: Or Variations on the
Conquest of Space.
Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1997.
Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ed. Arte Povera.
London: Phaidon Press, 1999.
Claura, Michel. “Actualité.”
VH 101, no. 5 (Spring 1971), pp. 40–47.
Claura, Michel. “Art pauvre, antiforme, art impossible,
etc. . . . Berne.”
Les Lettres Françaises, 2 April 1969, pp. 26–27.
Claura, Michel. “18 Paris IV 70.”
Opus International, 17 (April 1970), p. 12.
Claura, Michel. “Extrémisme et rupture (1).”
Les Lettres Françaises, 24 September 1969, pp. 26–27.
Claura, Michel. “Extrémisme et rupture (2).”
Les Lettres Françaises, 1 October 1969, pp. 26–27.
Colpitt, Frances. Minimal Art: A Critical Perspective.
Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990.
Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects.
Exh. cat. New York: New York Cultural Center, 1970.
“Conceptual Art and the Reception of Duchamp.”
October, 70 (Fall 1994), pp. 127–146.
Crow, Thomas. Modern Art in the Common Culture.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
Crow, Thomas. The Rise of the Sixties: American
and European Art in the Era of Dissent.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.
Davis, Douglas. Art and the Future:
A History/Prophecy of the Collaboration
between Science, Technology and Art.
New York: Praeger, 1973.
De Antonio, Emile, and Mitch Tuchman. Painters
Painting: A Candid History of the Modern Art Scene,
New York: Abbeville Press, 1984.
Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle.
Detroit: Black and Red, 1977.
Debray, Régis. Manifestes médialogiques.
Paris: Gallimard, 1994.
De Coppet, Laura, and Alan Jones. The Art Dealers:
The Powers Behind the Scene Talk about the
Business of Art.
New York: Potter, 1984.
Definitive Statements. American Art: 1964–66.
Exh. cat. Providence, R.I.: Department of Art, Brown
Denizot, René. “Ian Wilson, for Example:
Texts on Words.”
Artforum, 18:7 (March 1980), pp. 68–70.
Denizot, René. “La limite du concept.”
Opus International, 17 (April 1970), pp. 14–16.
Denizot, René. Word for Word: It’s about Time/ Mot pour
mot/ Il est temps.
Paris: Yvon Lambert, 1980.
Dent, George. “The Growing Corporate Investment
in the Arts.”
Art News (January 1973), pp. 21–25.
Derrida, Jacques. Dissemination.
Trans. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago
Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference.
Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Inside New York’s Art World.
New York: Rizzoli, 1979.
Dillon, C. Douglas. “Cross-Cultural Communication
through the Arts.”
Columbia Journal of World Business (September-October
1971), pp. 31–38.
Dimaggio, Paul, and Michael Unseem. “Cultural
Democracy in a Period of Cultural Expansion:
The Social Composition of Arts Audiences in
the United States.”
Social Problems, 26:2 (December 1978), pp. 179–197.
6 Dimaggio, Paul, and Michael Unseem. “Cultural
Property and Public Policy: Emerging Tensions
in Government Support for the Arts.”
Social Research, 45 (Summer 1978), pp. 356–389.
Dimaggio, Paul, and Michael Unseem. “Social Class and
Arts Consumption: The Origins and Consequences of
Class Differences in Exposure to the Arts in
Theory and Society, 5:2 (March 1978), pp. 141–161.
Documenta 5: Befragung der Realität: Bildwelten heute.
Exh. cat. 3 vols. Kassel: Neue Galerie and Museum
Exh. cat. Eindhoven: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, 1979.
Douglas Huebler: November 1968.
Exh. cat. New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1968.
Douglas Huebler: “Variable”, etc.
Exh. cat. Limoges: F.R.A.C. Limousin, 1992.
Duve, Thierry de. Kant after Duchamp.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996.
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. The Consciousness
Industry: On Literature, Politics and the Media.
New York: Seabury Press, 1974.
Farber, David, ed. The Sixties: From Memory to History.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Feigen, Richard. “Art ‘Boom’: Inflationary Hedge and
Arts Magazine, 41:3 (December 1966–January 1967),
Field, Richard, ed. Mel Bochner: Thought Made Visible
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1995.
Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1969.
Foster, Hal, ed. Discussions in Contemporary Culture.
Seattle: Bay Press, 1987.
Foster, Hal. The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at
the End of the Century.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996.
Frank, Thomas. The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture,
Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Fried, Michael. Art and Objecthood: Essays and
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Fried, Michael. Three American Painters: Kenneth
Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella.
Cambridge, Mass.: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University,
Friedman, Ken, ed. The Fluxus Reader.
Chicester, West Sussex; New York: Academy Editions,
Garrels, Gary, ed. The Work of Andy Warhol.
Seattle: Bay Press, 1989.
Gintz, Claude, ed. L’art conceptuel, une perspective.
Exh. cat. Paris: Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris,
Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope,
Days of Rage.
New York: Bantam, 1987.
Goldman, Robert, and Stephen Papson. Sign Wars:
The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising.
New York: Guilford Press, 1996.
Goldstein, Ann, and Anne Rorimer, eds. Reconsidering
the Object of Art: 1965–1975.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art;
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996.
Graham, Dan. Articles.
Ed. R. H. Fuchs. Eindhoven: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum,
Graham, Dan, ed. Aspen, 8
Graham, Dan. Endmoments.
New York: Dan Graham, 1969.
7Graham, Dan. Rock My Religion: Writings and Art
Ed. Brian Wallace. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993.
Greenberg, Clement. The Collected Essays and
Criticism. Vol. 4: Modernism with a Vengeance,
Ed. John O’Brian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of
Trans. Thomas Burger. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
Hans Haacke: Framing and Being Framed: 7 Works
Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and
Design; New York: New York University Press, 1975.
Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business.
Exh. cat. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art;
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986.
Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Harrison, Charles. “Against Precedents.”
Studio International, 178:914 (September 1969), pp. 90–93.
Harrison, Charles. Essays on Art & Language.
Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1991. Rpt.,
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001.
Harrison, Charles. “A Very Abstract Context.”
Studio International, 180:927 (November 1970),
Harrison, Charles, and Fred Orton. A Provisional History
of Art & Language.
Paris: Editions Eric Fabre, 1982.
Haskell, Barbara. Blam! The Explosion of Pop,
Minimalism, and Performance 1958–1964.
Exh. cat. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1984.
Haug, W. F. Critique of Commodity Aesthetics:
Appearance, Sexuality and Advertising in
Trans. Robert Bock. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Haywood, Robert. Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg:
Art, Happenings, and Cultural Politics, c. 1958–
New Haven: Yale University Press, forthcoming.
Heiss, Alanna, ed. Dennis Oppenheim: Selected Works
Exh. cat. New York: Institute for Contemporary Art, P.S. 1
Museum, and Harry N. Abrams, 1992.
Hobbs, Robert, ed. Robert Smithson: Sculpture.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.
Honnef, Klaus. Concept Art.
Cologne: Phaidon, 1971.
Honnef, Klaus. “Conceptual-Art.”
Kunst-Bulletin, 4 (April 1972), pp. 1–6.
Honnef, Klaus. “Douglas Huebler.”
Art and Artists, 7:10 (January 1973), pp. 22–25.
Howard, Gerald, ed. The Sixties: Art, Politics and Media
of Our Most Explosive Decade.
New York: Paragon House, 1991.
Huebler, Douglas. 10+.
Exh. cat. Evanston: Ditmar Memorial Gallery, Northwestern
Hunter, Sam, ed. The Harry N. Abrams Family
Exh. cat. New York: Jewish Museum, 1966.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1970.
Jameson, Fredric. The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings
on the Postmodern 1983–1998.
London: Verso, 1998.
8 Jeffery, Ian. “Art Theory and the Decline of the Art
Studio International, 186:961 (December 1973),
Jones, Caroline. Machine in the Studio:
Constructing the Postwar American Artist.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris.
Exh. cat. Bradford, Mass.: Laura Knott Gallery, Bradford
Junior College, 1969.
Judd, Donald. Complete Writings, 1959–1975.
Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and
Design; New York: New York University Press, 1975.
Junker, Howard. “Idea as Art.”
Newsweek, 11 August 1969, p. 81.
Junker, Howard. “The New Art: It’s Way,
Newsweek, 29 July 1968, pp. 56–63.
Junker, Howard. “The New Sculpture: Getting Down
to the Nitty Gritty.”
Saturday Evening Post, 2 November 1968, pp. 42–47.
Kaiden, Nina, and Bartlett Hays, eds. Artist and
Advocate: An Essay on Corporate Patronage.
New York: Renaissance Editions, 1967.
Kaprow, Allan. Essays on the Blurring of
Art and Life.
Ed. Jeff Kelley. Berkeley: University of California Press,
Kastner, Jeffrey, and Brian Wallis, eds. Land and
London: Phaidon, 1998.
Kellein, Thomas. Fluxus.
London: Thames and Hudson, 1995.
Kirby, Michael, ed. Happenings.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965.
Exh. cat. Leverkusen: Städtisches Museum, 1969.
Kosuth, Joseph. Art after Philosophy and After:
Collected Writings, 1966–1990.
Ed. Gabriele Guercio. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
Kosuth, Joseph. Joseph Kosuth: Interviews.
Stuttgart: Patricia Schwarz, 1989.
Kosuth, Joseph. “Reply to Benjamin Buchloh on
October, 57 (Summer 1991), pp. 152–154.
Kosuth, Joseph, and Christine Kozlov. “Ad Reinhardt:
Evolution into Darkness—The Art of an Informal
Formalist; Negativity, Purity, and the Clearness
Unpublished typescript for the School of Visual Arts,
New York, May 1966.
Kozloff, Max. “9 in a Warehouse: An Attack on the
Status of the Object.”
Artforum, 7 (February 1969), pp. 38–42.
Kozloff, Max. “The Trouble with Art-as-Idea.”
Artforum, 11:1 (September 1972), pp. 33–37.
Kramer, Hilton. “About MOMA, the AWC and
New York Times, 8 February 1970, pp. II:23–24.
Kramer, Hilton. “Are We Fed Up with the Artist?
Is the ‘Work of Art’ Over?”
New York Times, 20 September 1970, p. II:29.
Kramer, Hilton. “Art: Xeroxophilia Rages out of Control.”
New York Times, 11 April 1970, p. C27.
Kramer, Hilton. “Do You Believe in the Principle of
New York Times, 18 January 1970, p. II:25.
Krauss, Rosalind E. The Optical Unconscious.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993.
Krauss, Rosalind E. The Originality of the Avant-Garde
and Other Modernist Myths.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987.
9Krauss, Rosalind E. “A Voyage on the North Sea”:
Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition.
New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000.
Kristeva, Julia. Revolution in Poetic Language.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.
Lawrence Weiner: Specific and General Works.
Exh. cat. Villeurbanne: Le Nouveau Musée/Institut d’art
Lawrence Weiner. Statements.
New York: Seth Siegelaub with the Louis Kellner
Leen, Frederik. “Seth Siegelaub: Conceptual Art
Forum International, 2:9 (September 1991), pp. 64–72.
Lefebvre, Henri. Everyday Life in the Modern World.
Trans. Sacha Rabinovitch. New York: Harper and Row,
Legg, Alicia, ed. Sol LeWitt.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1978.
Leider, Phillip. “Literalism and Abstraction: Frank
Stella’s Retrospective at the Modern.”
Artforum, 8:8 (April 1970), pp. 44–51.
Lerman, Leo. “Export Import: The Siegelaub Idea.”
Mademoiselle (June 1969), pp. 116–117.
Lippard, Lucy R. “The Art Workers’ Coalition:
Not a History.”
Studio International, 180 (November 1970), pp. 171–174.
Lippard, Lucy R. Changing: Essays in Art Criticism.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971.
Lippard, Lucy R. “Deep in Numbers.”
Artforum, 12:2 (October 1973), pp. 35–39.
Lippard, Lucy R. Six Years: The Dematerialization of the
Art Object from 1966 to 1972.
New York: Praeger, 1973. Rpt., Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1996.
Lippard, Lucy R. “Time: A Panel Discussion.”
Art International, 13:9 (November 1969), pp. 20–23, 39.
Madoff, Steven Henry. Pop Art: A Critical History.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Mahsun, Carol Anne, ed. Pop Art: The Critical Dialogue.
Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989.
Mamiya, Christin J. Pop Art and Consumer Culture:
American Super Market.
Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.
Martineau, Pierre. Motivation in Advertising: Motives
That Make People Buy.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957.
Marwick, Arthur. The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in
Britain, France, Italy and the United States, c.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Masotta, Oscar. Happenings.
Buenos Aires: Editorial J. Alvarez, 1967.
May 19–June 19, 1969 [“Simon Fraser Exhibition”].
Burnaby, B.C.: Center for Communications and the Arts,
Simon Fraser University, 1969.
McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy:
The Making of Typographic Man.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.
McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore.
The Medium Is the Massage.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.
Messer, Thomas M. “Impossible Art—
Why Is It?”
Art in America, 57:3 (May-June 1969), pp. 30–31.
Meyer, James, ed. Minimalism.
London: Phaidon, 2000.
Meyer, James. Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
Meyer, Ursula. Conceptual Art.
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972.
0 Meyer, Ursula. “De-Objectification of the Object.”
Arts Magazine, 43:8 (Summer 1969), pp. 20–22.
Migliorini, Ermanno. Conceptual Art.
Florence: Il Fiorini, 1972.
Miller, James E., and Paul D. Herring, eds.
The Arts and the Public.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.
Millet, Catherine. “L’art conceptuel.”
Opus International, 15 (December 1969), pp. 20–23.
Millet, Catherine. “L’art conceptuel.”
VH 101, no. 3 (Autumn 1970), pp. 1–53.
Morgan, Edward P. The 60s Experience: Hard Lessons
about Modern America.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.
Morgan, Robert C. Conceptual Art: An American
Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 1996.
Morgan, Robert C. “The Situation of Conceptual Art:
The ‘January Show’ and After.”
Arts Magazine, 63:6 (February 1989), pp. 40–43.
Morris, Robert. Continuous Project Altered Daily:
The Writings of Robert Morris.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993.
Muller, Gregoire. The New Avant-Garde.
New York: Praeger, 1972.
Naifeh, Stephen W. Culture Making: Money, Success
and the New York Artworld.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.
Newman, Michael, and Jon Bird, eds. Rewriting
London: Reaktion Books, 1999.
Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1970.
Non-Anthropomorphic Art by Four Young Artists:
Joseph Kosuth, Christine Kozlov, Michael Rinaldi,
New York: Lannis Gallery, 1967.
O’Connor, Francis V. “Notes on Patronage: The 1960s.”
Artforum, 11 (September 1972), pp. 52–56.
O’Doherty, Brian, ed. Aspen, 5–6 (Fall-Winter 1967).
O’Doherty, Brian. Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of
the Gallery Space.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
Op losse schroeven: Situaties en cryptostructuren.
Exh. cat. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1969.
Owens, Craig. Beyond Recognition: Representation,
Power, and Culture.
Ed. Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, Lynne Tillman, and Jane
Weinstock. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
Peck, Abe. Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times
of the Underground Press.
New York: Citadel Press, 1991.
Perreault, John. “Art: Whose Art?”
Village Voice, 9 January 1969, p. 17.
Perreault, John. “Disturbances.”
Village Voice, 23 January 1969, pp. 14, 18.
Perreault, John. “A Minimal Future?—Union Made:
Report on a Phenomenon.”
Arts Magazine, 41:5 (March 1967), pp. 26–31.
Picard, Lil. “Protest and Rebellion.”
Arts Magazine, 44:1 (May 1970), pp. 18–24.
Pincus-Witten, Robert. “Theatre of the Conceptual:
Autobiography and Myth.”
Artforum, 12:2 (October 1973), pp. 40–46.
Ratcliff, Carter. “New York Letter: Spring (Part I).”
Art International, 25:4 (20 April 1971), pp. 25–28, 31, 69.
Ratcliff, Carter. “New York Letter: Spring (Part II).”
Art International, 25:5 (20 May 1971), pp. 32–39, 45.
Ratcliff, Carter. “New York Letter: Spring Part III
Art International, 25:6 (20 June 1971), pp. 94–99,
Reitlinger, Gerald. The Economics of Taste. Vol. 3:
The Art Market in the 1960s.
London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970.
1Report on the Activities of the N. E. Thing Co. at the
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and Other
Locations, June 4–July 6.
Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1969.
Exh. cat. Washington: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1969.
Robert Morris: The Mind/Body Problem.
Exh. cat. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,
Rorimer, Anne. New Art in the 60s and 70s:
London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.
Rose, Barbara. “How to Murder an Avant-Garde.”
Artforum, 4:3 (November 1965), p. 35.
Rose, Barbara. “The Politics of Art, Part III.”
Artforum, 7:9 (May 1969), pp. 31–36.
Rose, Barbara. “Why Read Art Criticism?”
New York, 3 March 1969, p. 44.
Rosenberg, Harold. “The American Action Painters.”
Art News (December 1952), pp. 22–23, 48–50.
Rosenberg, Harold. Art on the Edge: Creators and
New York: Macmillan, 1975.
Rosenberg, Harold. “De-Aestheticization.”
New Yorker, 24 January 1970, pp. 62–67.
Rosenberg, Harold. The De-Definition of Art:
Action Art to Pop to Earthworks.
New York: Horizon Press, 1972.
Rublowsky, John. Pop Art.
New York: Basic Books, 1965.
Rush, Richard M. Art as an Investment.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1961.
Sandford, Mariellen R., ed. Happenings and Other Acts.
London: Routledge, 1995.
Sandler, Irving. American Art of the 1960s.
New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
Sayres, Sohnya, Anders Stephanson, et al., eds.
The 60s without Apology.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
Schell, Jonathan. The Time of Illusion.
New York: Knopf, 1976.
Schiller, Herbert I. Culture, Inc.: The Corporate Takeover
of Public Expression.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Schwartz, Theresa. “The Politicalization of the Avant-
Art in America, 59 (November 1971), pp. 96–105.
Schwartz, Theresa. “The Politicalization of the Avant-
Garde: Part II.”
Art in America, 60 (March 1972), pp. 70–79.
Schwartz, Theresa. “The Politicalization of the Avant-
Garde: Part III.”
Art in America, 61 (March 1973), pp. 67–71.
Schwartz, Theresa. “The Politicalization of the Avant-
Garde: Part IV.”
Art in America, 62 (January/February 1974), pp. 80–84.
Schwarz, Dieter, ed. Lawrence Weiner: Books 1968–
Cologne: Walter König; Villeurbanne: Le Nouveau Musée,
Sharp, Willoughby. “An Interview with Dennis
Studio International, 182:983 (November 1971),
Sharp, Willoughby. “Lawrence Weiner at Amsterdam:
Interview with Willoughby Sharp.”
Avalanche, 4 (Spring 1972), pp. 66–73.
Shirey, David L. “Impossible Art—What Is It?”
Art in America, 57:3 (May-June 1969), pp. 32–47.
Siegel, Jeanne, ed. Artwords: Discourse on the 60s
New York: Da Capo Press, 1985.
2 Siegelaub, Seth. “The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer
and Sale Agreement.”
Studio International, 181:932 (April 1971), pp. 142–144.
Siegelaub, Seth. Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas
Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris,
[“The Xerox Book.”] New York: Seth Siegelaub & John
Siegelaub, Seth. 18 Paris IV. 70.
Paris: Seth Siegelaub, 1970.
Siegelaub, Seth. January 5–31, 1969.
New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969.
Siegelaub, Seth. Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris.
Bradford, Mass.: Bradford Junior College, 1969.
Siegelaub, Seth. “July-August 1970.”
Studio International, 180:924 (July-August 1970), pp. 1–
48. Also published as July/August Exhibition Book. London:
Studio International and Seth Siegelaub, 1970.
Siegelaub, Seth. July, August, September 1969.
New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969.
Siegelaub, Seth. March 1–31, 1969.
[“One Month.”] New York: Seth Siegelaub, 1969.
Siegelaub, Seth. “Reply to Benjamin Buchloh on
October, 57 (Summer 1991), pp. 155–157.
Siegelaub, Seth, and Armand Mattelart, eds.
Communication and Class Struggle.
2 vols. New York: International General, 1979.
Smith, Owen. Fluxus: The History of an Attitude.
San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1998.
Smithson, Robert. Robert Smithson:
The Collected Writings.
Ed. Jack Flam. Berkeley: University of California Press,
Smithson, Robert. The Writings of Robert Smithson.
Ed. Nancy Holt. New York: New York University Press,
“Sold Out Art: More Buyers than Ever Sail in to a
Life 55 (20 September 1963), pp. 125–129.
Solomon, Alan. New York: The New Art Scene.
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.
Staniszewski, Mary Anne. “Conceptual Supplement.”
Flash Art, 143 (November-December 1988), pp. 88–117.
Steigerwald, David. The Sixties and the End of
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.
Stemmrich, Gregor. “Minimal Art—Underlying
In Minimal Art and Its Influence on International Art of the
1990s. Exh. cat. Ed. Peter Friese. Bremen: Neues
Museum Weserburg, 1998.
Taylor, Paul, ed. Post-Pop Art.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989.
Toffler, Alvin. The Culture Consumers: A Study of Art
and Affluence in America.
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1964.
Trini, Tommaso. “Intervista con Ian Wilson/ Ian Wilson,
Data, 1:1 (September 1971), pp. 32–34.
Tuchman, Phyllis. “An Interview with Carl Andre.”
Artforum, 8:10 (June 1970), pp. 55–61.
Exh. cat. Buenos Aires: Centro de Arte y Comunicación,
“Vanity Fair: The New York Art Scene.”
Newsweek, 4 January 1965, pp. 54–59.
Varian, Elayne H. “New Dealing.”
Art in America, 8 (January-February 1970), pp. 68–73.
Waldman, Diane. “Holes without History.”
Art News, 70 (May 1971), pp. 45–47, 66–67.
Wall, Jeff. Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel.
Toronto: Art Metropole, 1991.
3When Attitudes Become Form: Works—Concepts—
Live in Your Head.
Exh. cat. Bern: Kunsthalle, 1969.
White, Harrison C., and Cynthia A. White.
Canvases and Careers: Institutional Change
in the French Painting World.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
White, Robin. “Interview with Robert Barry.”
View, 1:2 (May 1978), pp. 2–24.
Whiting, Cécile. A Taste for Pop: Pop Art,
Gender and Consumer Culture.
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Abstract expressionism, 44, 45, 65, 105. See also
New York School
Action art, 11
Advertising. See also Publicity
Andre on, 6
as art, 49, 51–52, 100
in Artforum, 132
and artistic practices, 41, 49, 52, 100, 131,
and artists, 40, 42
in buses, 51
campaign, 42, 130
direct mail, 12, 72
as discourse, 42
as documentation, 131–132
egalitarian aspect of, 199n38
and fragmentation, 133
Kosuth on, 42, 51, 185n72
language of, 41
in newspapers, 42, 49, 100
and patronage, 40
and postmodernization, 171n5
practice of, 41
proliferation of, 2
and promotion of art, 15–16, 24, 118, 131,
relationship to art, 5, 41, 49, 52, 100, 120, 131,
as secondary information, 133
Siegelaub’s use of, 16, 118, 204n33
strategies of, 42, 118, 131
in trains, 51
Advertising Age, 199n38
Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America), 127
Alloway, Lawrence, 103, 105, 163–164
Aluminum series (Stella), 88
American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T),
AMK Corporation, 127
Amount of Bleach Poured on a Rug and Allowed to
Bleach (Weiner), 98, 128
on advertising, 6
on art and matter, 183n60
and arte povera, 178n49
artwork by, 17, 20, 21
as art worker, 22
and Art Workers Coalition, 125, 128, 200n9
and certificate of authenticity, 23, 178n51
and conceptual art, 191n48
correspondence with Siegelaub, 207n18
exhibitions, 16, 27, 187n14, 196n2
Graham on, 20, 22, 191n48, 203n16
Huebler on, 191n48
and idea, 44, 74
influence on Huebler, 74
influence on Kosuth, 34–35, 100
Joint, 20–23, 52, 111, 113, 178n49
Kosuth on, 44
and materials, 22–23, 34, 44, 89, 97, 117, 122,
177n45, 187n14, 198n33
and minimalism, 23, 52
and patronage, 74, 177n43
and place, 20, 187n14
and pop art, 23, 178n48
and practice of art, 23
and presentation of art, 22–23, 111, 203n16
and reception of art, 24
relationship to Graham, 20, 100, 191n48
on replication, 178n52
Scatter Piece, 203n15
at School of Visual Arts, 27
and seriality, 20, 181n30
and temporality, 20, 23, 113
at Windham College symposium, 19
Andre Emmerich Gallery, 44
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 176n31
“Annual Exhibition of Sculpture and Prints” (Whitney
“Archi-traces” (Derrida), 70, 189n30
Areas (Mangold), 88
Art and Artists, 177n42
Art criticism, 41, 120–121
Arte povera, 178n49
Artforum, 9, 47, 49, 131–132, 177n42, 179n4
Art in America, 49, 155
Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement,
164–169, 210n53, 211nn55–57
Artist’s rights, 123
Hot Warm Cool Cold, 208n22
22 Sentences: The French Army, 208n22
Art market, 7–10, 13, 40, 157, 161, 173nn4–5
Art News, 11
Art patrons. See Patrons
Arts Magazine, 27, 57, 177n42, 183n60
Art Workers Coalition (AWC), 125, 128, 160–161,
172n11, 200n7, 201nn9–10
ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and
Asher, Michael, 207n18
Ashton, Dore, 60, 62, 63, 186n2
Associated Press, 127
Atkinson, Conrad, 4
Atkinson, Terry, 207n22, 208n29, 210n45. See also
22 Sentences: The French Army, 208n22
Avant-Garde, 7–9, 80, 172n11. See also Vanguard
Baldwin, Michael, 207n22, 208n29, 210n45. See
22 Sentences: The French Army, 208n22
Bannard, Walter Darby, 196n2
artwork by, 17, 23, 56, 83, 103–119, 198n32,
and Art Workers Coalition, 125
88 mc Carrier Wave (FM), 115–116
exhibitions, 16, 17, 47, 102, 103, 106, 107, 111,
115, 118, 156, 161, 163, 183n63, 196n2,
films, 113, 197n24
and fragmentation, 109
Green Line, 103, 105
and idea, 115
Inert Gas Series, 118
Inert Gas Series: Helium, 119
and materials, 114–115, 117, 197n26,
and media fetishization, 156
and minimalism, 107, 114, 117
and negation of visual, 113–115, 117–118, 122
New York to Luxembourg CB Carrier Wave, January
5–31, 1969, 115
One Million Dots, 203n17
Orange Edges, 105–106, 196n7
Outdoor Monofilament Installation, 198n29
and photography, 199n36
and place, 106, 111, 113, 209n30
and practice of art, 55, 89, 98, 100, 103, 105, 107,
117, 118, 122
and presentation of art, 102, 106–107, 109,
114–115, 117–118, 197n18, 203n17, 208n22
publicity photo of, 58
on radiation waves, 198n32
and reception of art, 23, 107, 109, 111, 113–115,
relationship to Cage, 113
and site specificity, 117
1600 kc Carrier Wave (AM), 115–116
and systemic painting, 103, 105
Telepathic Piece, 208n22
and temporality, 113–114, 203n17
Untitled (1967), 110
Untitled (1967–1968), 108
Untitled (1968), 112
at Windham College symposium, 19
0.5 Microcurie Radiation Installation, 198n32
Barthes, Roland, 82, 181n36, 182n38, 193n67,
Battcock, Gregory, 123–125, 127, 129, 200n7
Baudrillard, Jean, 15, 41, 42, 120, 156, 199n39
Baxter, Iain, 156, 207n22, 209n30
Bellamy, Richard, 44, 183n56
Benjamin, Walter, 156, 202n5
Bochner, Mel, 133–134, 181n30, 202n7
Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper
Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art, 133,
Bongartz, Roy, 187n14
Borges, Jorge Luis, 188n22
Boston-New York Exchange Shape (Huebler), 77, 79
Boulez, Pierre, 181n30
Bourdieu, Pierre, 14, 26–27, 176n34
Brecht, Bertolt, 156, 208n26
Brown, Gordon, 28, 57
Brown, Trisha, 92
Buchloh, Benjamin H. D., 80, 178n51
Bunting, John R., 176n31
Buren, Daniel, 5, 209n30, 210n45
Burgin, Victor, 4
Business Committee for the Arts, 176n31
Butler, Eugenia, 32
Cage, John, 77, 113, 192n53
Cain, Michael, 200n9
Capitalism, 2, 7, 100, 154, 157, 171n5, 172n11,
Card File (Morris), 204n26
Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph
Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Lawrence Weiner,
202n4. See also “The Xerox Book”
Carrier waves, 114–115
Castelli, Leo, 175n21. See also Leo Castelli Gallery
Castoro, Rosemarie, 4
Certificate of authenticity, 73, 120, 178n51
Chamberlain, John, 186n2
Chandler, John, 188n23
Christo, 22, 23, 65
Lower Manhattan Packed Buildings, 187n15
Clerk, Pierre, 174n18, 175n25
Collectors. See also Patrons
and art milieu, 121
and art production, 173n4
and businessmen, 12, 40
and capitalism, 7
and certificate of ownership, 4, 73
critique of, 11
and documentation, 4, 73
and idea, 1
and image, 8, 10
increase in numbers of, 11
and investment potential, 7, 40
6 Barry, Robert (cont.)
new type of, 8, 173n4
and privacy, 168
relationship to artists, 2, 9, 89, 106, 168
relationship to artwork, 8, 40, 89
relationship to dealers, 10, 121
rights of, 168
Siegelaub on, 9
and value of art, 9, 40
art as, 4, 22, 100, 169
form, 15, 22
objects, 32, 178n48
sign machine, 175n27
supplier of, 7
and advanced capitalism, 2
Andre’s art as, 191n48
as art movement, 124, 170, 199–200n44, 208n29
and aura, 169, 181n37
and certificates, 178n51, 191n46
commercial packaging of, 5
and commodity status of art, 4
and context specificity, 20
criticism of, 120, 172n11
and cultural system, 169
definition of, 35, 40, 56, 73, 131
and drug culture, 183n58
and economic aspect, 1
emergence, 3, 4, 5, 172n11
exhibitions, 2–3, 124, 129
Flavin’s art as, 191n48
history of, 4, 172nn9,11
of individual artists, 51, 80, 82, 92, 93, 96, 98,
100, 115, 122
for magazines and newspapers, 184n66
marketing of, 133
media determinism of, 205n41
and method of production, 154
and minimalism, 199–200n44
and negation of expression, 172n11
participatory nature of, 80, 98
political economy of, 4
public conception of, 128
reception of, 80, 98, 128
and serial music, 181n30
and site specificity, 20
and text, 181n36
theory of, 77
Consumer culture, 2
Consumer society, 84
Context-specific art, 20, 117
Copy machine, 135, 204n28. See also Photocopy;
Cornell, Joseph, 186n2
and advertising, 15
and association with art, 13–14, 176n31
as collectors, 13
and cultural capital, 15, 176n34
funds of, 13
ideology of, 13
interests of, 16
and laissez-faire economics, 13
as patrons, 13–15, 16, 176n32
practice of, 15
and public relations, 13–14
social conscience, 176n31
and sponsorship, 2, 176n31
“Cultural capital” (Bourdieu), 15, 176n34
Cunningham, Merce, 92
Dance Diagrams, 80
Darboven, Hanne, 4
De Antonio, Emile, 175n21
of artwork, 73–74, 96
of art world, 4
of communications, 209n33
of modern life, 157
De Kooning, Willem, 175n21, 186n2
De Maria, Walter, 18
Mile Long Drawing, 65
Derrida, Jacques, 70, 195n21
De Stijl, 29
Detumescence (Graham), 190n43
Dibbets, Jan, 207n22, 209n30, 210n45
Dirks, Raymond, 190n41
Distribution, 3, 5, 15, 49, 73, 74, 83, 121, 183n63
Documenta, 125, 200n6
Document (Statement of Aesthetic Withdrawal)
Do It Yourself (Warhol), 80
“Douglas Huebler: November 1968,” 72, 74–76, 130,
Duchamp, Marcel, 30, 34
Duration Piece #2 (Huebler), 77
Duration Piece #8 (Huebler), 208n22
“Duration Pieces” (Huebler), 77, 80
Dwan Gallery, 40, 93
Eastman, Michael, 174n18
Egalitarianism, 68, 96–98, 121, 163, 168, 199n38
18 Happenings in Six Parts (Kaprow), 68, 80
88 mc Carrier Wave (FM) (Barry), 115–116
“Eight Young Artists,” 102, 196n2
Electromagnetic fields, 115
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus, 154, 156–157, 204n28,
205n41, 206n11, 208n27
Evergreen Review, 181n36
Every Building on Sunset Strip (Ruscha), 190n44
“Exhibition of the void,” 114
and advertising, 131
catalogue-exhibitions, 95, 100, 203n18
catalogues, 28, 57, 72–75, 80, 98, 120, 154–155,
157, 159, 173n13, 183n63, 192nn51–52,
204nn32–33, 207nn17,18,22, 209n31
and ephemerality of artwork, 92
format of, 135
and fragmentation, 96
of groups, 16
and mass media, 11
newspapers reporting on, 7
organization of, 11–12
practices and strategies, 3, 5, 10, 12, 121, 130,
148, 183n63, 209n37, 210n47
production of, 11
publicity, 7, 11, 16
and space, 24, 39, 52, 66, 184n63
and temporality, 135
transformation of, 12
and value of art, 211n56
Fascism, 92, 96
Feigen Gallery, 187n15
Ferus Gallery, 32
Figurative (Graham), 190n43
Financial Times, 160
Fiore, Quentin, 47, 86, 88, 130, 133, 135, 194n17
First Investigations (Kosuth), 32, 51
First Pennsylvania Corporation, 176n31
Fischer, Konrad, 161, 210n45
Flag (Johns), 84–85
Bochner on, 181n30
and certificate of authenticity, 23, 74, 178n51
correspondence with Siegelaub, 207n18
exhibition of artwork by, 52, 177n42, 178n48,
and exhibition space, 52
Graham on, 177n42, 191n48
Huebler on, 191n48
and materials, 34, 89, 97, 100, 122
and minimalism, 34–35, 52, 97
and patronage, 74
and reception of art, 34, 100
and site specificity, 190n44
Ford Foundation, 176n31
Forti, Simone, 92
Ford Motor Company, 127
Fragmentation, 49, 52, 70, 96, 109, 121, 131,
and conceptual art, 40
conventions, 18, 64–65
the environment (outdoors), 63–65
and experience, 64
extending art beyond, 63–65, 120, 197n18
by language, 183n54
and reception of art, 120
and secondary information, 117
Siegelaub on, 64
Frampton, Hollis, 113
Frank, Thomas, 15
Fried, Lawrence, 43
Fried, Michael, 70, 71, 107, 189nn29,34, 194n13,
Friedman, Milton, 13
Gallery 669, 32, 33
General Motors Corporation, 127
Ginnever, Chuck, 177n38
Globalization, 154, 159
“Global village” (McLuhan), 159
Glueck, Grace, 191n51
Goldman, Robert, 175n27
Goossen, Eugene, 102, 105–106, 196n7
on Andre, 22–23
and art as commodity, 22, 52, 100
on Christo, 187n15
and context specificity, 20
as critic, 20, 22, 191n48, 203n16
on Flavin, 191n48, 203n16
Homes for America, 190n43
influence of Lozano on, 184n67
and minimalism, 23
as moderator, 177n42
and Museum of Normal Art, 183n56
and place, 20, 177n44
and pop art, 20, 23
and practice of art, 73–74
and publicity, 73
Schema (March 1966), 190n43
at School of Visual Arts, 27
Side Effect/Common Drug, 190n43
and site reception of art, 73
and specificity, 20, 74, 190n44
and temporality, 23
at Windham College symposium, 19
Greenberg, Clement, 34
Green Gallery, 44
Green Line (Barry), 103, 105
Greer, Manuel, 184n63
Grinstein, Stanley, 118
Guggenheim, Solomon R., Museum, 103
Guston, Phillip, 186n2
Haacke, Hans, 190n44
Halprin, Ann, 92
Happenings, 10, 11, 68, 80, 89–90, 174n20,
Hardt, Michael, 2, 206n13
Harrison, Charles, 9–10, 55–56, 186n3, 199n44,
Harten, Jürgen, 161, 210n46
Hay, Deborah, 92
Haywood, Robert, 177n41
Heizer, Michael, 18, 65, 187nn13–14
Held, Al, 186n2
Hendin, Arni, 10, 174n20
Hofmann, Hans, 186n2
Hollywood, 1, 12
Homes for America (Graham), 190n43
Hot Warm Cool Cold (Art-Language), 208n22
Hudson River Museum, 102
and abstract expressionism, 65
and art history, 82, 100
artwork by, 60–63, 66–68, 75–81
and Art Workers Coalition, 125
Boston-New York Exchange Shape, 77, 79
and documentation, 60, 66, 69–71, 75, 77,
131–132, 191n46, 204n33
Duration Piece #2, 77
Duration Piece #8, 208n22
“Duration Pieces,” 77, 80
exhibitions, 47, 63, 72, 74, 130, 156, 161, 163,
183n63, 187n9, 189–190n37, 192n51, 204n33,
and fragmentation, 70, 82, 96, 131
on framing, 63–65, 197n18
and happenings, 68
and idea, 191n46
and language, 68, 70–73, 193n65
and materials, 61, 66, 68–69, 71, 73, 75, 77, 97,
and minimalism, 62, 77
and negation of visual, 60, 62
and patronage, 74
and photography, 188n25, 193n65
and place, 68, 69–71, 77, 209n30
and pop art, 131
and practice of art, 68, 71–72, 77, 89, 98, 130, 133
and presentation of art, 61, 63–64, 66, 77, 98, 100,
102, 115, 122, 131, 133, 156, 209n30
and publicity, 57, 131, 175n25
publicity photo of, 58
and reception of art, 62, 66, 72, 74–75, 80, 82–83,
88, 92, 97, 100
relationship to Cage, 77, 192n53
relationship to Siegelaub, 63, 75, 102, 187n9,
and Robbe-Grillet, 66, 188n19
Rochester Trip, 67–68
and secondary information, 69–70, 115
and serialization, 71, 188n23
Siegelaub on, 175n25, 189–190n37, 192n51
and site of exhibition, 69–70, 122
Site Sculpture Project. Windham College Pentagram,
and site specificity, 69–70, 72, 74
and temporality, 71, 77, 80, 82, 208n22
texts by, 68, 80
Truro Series 3-66, 61
Variable Piece #1, 80
“Variable Pieces,” 80–81
Hultén, Pontus, 125
Humanism, 28, 82
Huot, Robert, 113, 196n2, 210n45
Iarusso, Alfred Michael, 174n18
Image. Art Programs for Industry, Inc., 12–13, 14, 16
Inert Gas Series (Barry), 118
Inert Gas Series: Helium (Barry), 119
Informatization, 2, 3
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), 8
International General, 172n6
Iris Clert Gallery, 114
Jameson, Fredric, 66
“January 5–31, 1969,” 47, 49, 50, 58, 98, 115,
116, 123, 129, 160, 163
Jewish Museum (New York), 62
Johanson, Patricia, 196n2
John Daniels Gallery, 20
Johns, Jasper, 89, 93, 175n21
Flag series, 84, 86
Painted Bronze, 175n21
Joint (Andre), 20–23, 52, 111, 113, 178n49
“Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris,” 154–155
Judd, Donald, 18, 27, 29, 34, 35, 41, 52, 86, 106,
122, 178n48, 180nn19,22
Judson Dance Theater, 92
“July, August, September 1969,” 158, 209nn31,33
July, August, September 1969, 159
Junker, Howard, 44, 187n13
Kaltenbach, Stephen, 207n22, 209n38, 210n45
Kaprow, Allan, 2, 11, 26, 92, 164, 175n23, 177n41
18 Happenings in Six Parts, 68, 80
Kawara, On, 30, 180n16, 207n18
Kelly, Ellsworth, 186n2
Kelly, Mary, 4
Kertess, Klaus, 183n56
Klein, Yves, 114, 178n51
Kline, Franz, 186n2
Knight, John, 4
König, Kasper, 183n56
Kosuth, Joseph. See also Rose, Arthur R.
and advertising, 30, 40, 41–42, 49, 52, 96, 184n67
artwork by, 30–33, 43, 44, 48, 50, 204n26,
and Art Workers Coalition, 125, 200n9
and conceptual art, 35, 40, 51
and context specificity, 34
correspondence with Siegelaub, 207n18
as critic, 26–28, 41, 47, 49, 51, 57, 179n4
and de Stijl, 29
and documentation, 34
and drug culture, 44
exhibitions, 28–29, 32, 47, 156, 161, 179n12,
183n63, 207n22, 208n22, 210n45
First Investigations, 32, 51
and fragmentation, 49, 52
and history of art, 26, 182n40
and idea, 35, 40, 86, 182n44
influence of Andre on, 34–45
0 Huebler, Douglas (cont.)
influence of Flavin on, 34–35
influence of Judd on, 34
influence of LeWitt on, 51
influence of Robbe-Grillet on, 28
influence on Huebler, 100
and language, 30, 45, 180n21, 183n54
and Lannis Gallery, 27–28, 30, 179n9, 180n20
and mass media, 27
and materials, 29, 34, 47, 180n21, 204n26
and minimalism, 30, 34–35, 52
and Museum of Normal Art, 29–30, 44, 180n20,
and negation of visual, 49, 128
and nouveau roman, 28
and ownership of art, 195n29
photostats, 30, 32, 40–42, 47, 49, 51, 180n22
and pop art, 27, 30, 32, 34
and practice of art, 29, 32, 34, 41–42, 49, 51, 53,
98, 182n44, 184n67
and presentation of art, 42, 47, 49, 51, 102,
and primary information, 122
pseudonym, 26, 41, 49, 57, 177n41, 180n23
and publicity, 26–28, 41–42, 52, 179n9
publicity photo of, 43, 58
and reception of art, 128, 156, 201n14
relationship to Kozlov, 4, 27–29, 179n9
relationship to Siegelaub, 26, 42, 44, 47, 52–53,
56, 102, 161, 163
relationship to Warhol, 27, 30, 32, 86, 180n23
at School of Visual Arts, 27
Second Investigation, 47, 49–52, 100, 128,
and seriality, 30, 35, 49
and temporality, 51
Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967), 31, 47, 48
Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1968), 33
and value of art, 96
VIII. Eventuality (Art as Idea as Idea), 208n22
Kruger, Barbara, 4
Kunsthalle (Bern), 187n15
Ladies’ Home Journal, 174n8
Laissez-faire economics, 13
Land art, 65
“Language II,” 93
Lannan, J. Patrick, 208n29
Lannis Gallery, 27–28, 30, 179n9. See also Museum
of Normal Art
Laura Knott Gallery, 16–18, 22, 107, 109, 111, 154,
Leider, Philip, 184n67
Leo Castelli Gallery, 44
artwork by, 36, 37, 156, 209n30
and conceptual art, 35, 77, 96, 98
correspondence with Siegelaub, 207n18
and decentering role of artist, 38
and documentation, 191n46
and fragmentation, 96
and idea, 35, 38
influence on Kosuth, 51
and materials, 65
and minimalism, 39
and practice of art, 38, 65, 98, 105, 181n37
and presentation of art, 35, 98
and reception of art, 51, 98, 156
at School of Visual Arts, 27
and seriality, 35, 38, 181n30, 188n23, 203n18
L.H.O.O.Q. (Duchamp), 178n51
Lichtenstein, Dorothy, 47
Lichtenstein, Roy, 27, 47, 86, 180n22, 193n5
Life (magazine), 7, 8, 9, 174n8
Lippard, Lucy R., 4, 82, 123–125, 169, 183n56,
184n67, 188n23, 204n33
Litanies (Morris), 178n51
Livesey, Herbert, 174n18
Long, Richard, 65, 209n30
Lower Manhattan Packed Buildings (Christo),
Lowry, Bates, 125, 200n7
Lozano, Lee, 4, 47, 52, 100, 184n67
“The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical
Mallarmé, Stéphane, 195n21
Maloney, Martin, 186n2
Mangold, Robert, 88, 93
Manzoni, Piero, 178n51
“March 1–31, 1969,” 207n16. See also “One Month”
Mass culture, 20, 32, 52, 73, 86
Mass media, 8, 11, 27, 52, 156
Max’s Kansas City, 12, 27, 106
May 19–June19, 1969, 207n22. See also “Simon
McLuhan, Marshall, 49, 86, 88, 130, 133, 135, 154,
194n17, 204n28, 206n11
McShine, Kynaston, 62–63, 187n9
Meyer, Ursula, 198n32, 210n47
Mile Long Drawing (De Maria), 65
Milkowski, Antoni, 196n2
Miller, Dorothy, 175n25
Minimalism, 18, 23, 30, 34–45, 52, 62, 77, 88, 97,
107, 114, 117, 178n49, 179n14, 194nn13,15,
Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company, 127
Morris, Robert, 18, 41, 107, 178n51, 190n43,
191n46, 197n17, 203n17, 206n14
Card File, 204n26
Document (Statement of Aesthetic Withdrawal),
There Are Two Temperatures: One Outside, One In-
Motherwell, Robert, 186n2
Museum for Contemporary Art (Chicago), 177n42
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, New York), 125–128,
175n25, 200n7, 201nn8–9
Museum of Normal Art, 29, 44, 180n20, 183n56. See
also Lannis Gallery
Naifeh, Steven, 175n24
Nauman, Bruce, 207n18
Negri, Antonio, 2, 206n13
N.E. Thing Co., 210n45
Nevelson, Louise, 186n2
Newman, Barnett, 102, 105, 186n2, 196n2
Newsweek, 7, 27–28, 32, 40, 42, 43, 44, 174n8
New York, 160
New York School, 9, 11, 84, 103. See also Abstract
New York Times, 9, 127, 160, 174nn11,20, 175n23,
New York Times Magazine, 175n21, 187n14
New York to Luxembourg CB Carrier Wave, January
5–31, 1969 (Barry), 115
Noland, Kenneth, 105
“Non-Anthropomorphic Art by Four Young Artists,” 28,
“Non-Site” (Smithson), 69, 70, 71
Norvell, Patricia, 155, 160, 195n26, 199n36,
Nouveau roman, 28, 96
O’Connor, Francis, 8
O’Doherty, Brian, 175n23
Ohlson, Douglas, 196n2
Oldenburg, Claes, 27, 188n16
One Hole in the Ground Approximately One Foot by
One Foot / One Gallon Waterbased White Paint
Poured into This Hole (Weiner), 95
One Million Dots (Barry), 203n17
“One Month,” 155, 163. See also “March 1–31,
One Pint Gloss White Lacquer Poured Directly upon the
Floor and Allowed to Dry, 92–93
Oppenheim, Dennis, 18, 187n14, 191n46
Surface Indentations, 65
“Opticality” (Fried), 107
Orange Edges (Barry), 105–106, 196n7
Ortman, George, 186n2
Outdoor Monofilament Installation (Barry), 198n29
Ownership, 1, 4, 40, 73, 74, 82, 120, 153, 155,
159, 164, 169
Painted Bronze (Johns), 175n21
Papson, Stephen, 175n27
Patrons. See also Collectors
and art movements, 53
and certificates of authenticity, 23
and certificates of ownership, 4
and corporations, 13–15, 16
and direct-mail advertising, 72
and distribution of art, 120
of innovative art, 7
new type of, 7, 173n4
prestige of, 7
relationship to art, 4, 89
relationship to artists, 40
role of, 74
and Siegelaub, 190n38
traditional types of, 89, 176n32, 208n29
Paxton, Steve, 92
Perreault, John, 32
Phenomenology, 62, 63, 75, 82, 89, 107, 111, 114
Philip Morris Europe, 2
Photocopy, 135, 157, 164, 204n28. See also Copy
Photostat, 30, 32, 40–42, 47, 49, 51, 180n22
Piene, Otto, 65
Piper, Adrian, 4
Place, 20, 68, 69–71, 77, 106, 111, 113, 177n44,
Pollock, Jackson, 44, 89, 93, 186n2
Pop art, 20, 23, 27, 30, 32, 34, 86, 88, 89, 97, 131,
173n7, 178nn48–49, 182n47, 190n43
Postindustrial economy, 171n5
“Postindustrial ephemeralization” (Perreault),
Powers, John, 40
Price, Kenneth, 186n2
“Primary information” (Siegelaub), 56, 69, 73, 115,
122, 155–156, 159, 163, 169
“Primary Structures,” 63, 187n9
Printing press, 133, 202n6
Projansky, Robert, 164–168
Propeller series (Weiner), 84–86, 88, 93
“Prospect 69,” 161–163
catalogue, 74, 162, 163
Public art, 129
Publicity, 9–12, 16, 20, 41–42, 52, 56, 57, 58, 73,
106, 118, 122, 130–131, 156, 161, 163, 170
Public space, 11, 24, 57, 128
Radiation waves, 198n32
Radio waves, 117
Rainer, Yvonne, 4, 92
“Raw information” (Huebler), 71
Readymade, 23, 30, 34, 100, 178n51
Reinhardt, Ad, 27, 30, 32, 102–103, 183n54,
Removal series (Weiner), 88–89, 92–93, 95
Rhodes, Silas, 125
Riley, Bridget, 105
Rinaldi, Michael, 179n12, 183n56
Robbe-Grillet, Alain, 28, 66, 71
Rochester Trip (Huebler), 67–68
Rockefeller, John D., III, 176n32
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 176n31
Rockefeller Foundation, 176n31
Rockefeller Panel Report, 14, 176nn31–32
Roget’s Thesaurus, 47, 49, 51, 52, 206n14
Rose, Arthur R., 20, 26, 41, 44, 57, 163, 177n41,
180n23. See also Kosuth, Joseph
Rose, Barbara, 2, 120–121, 123, 160
Rosenberg, Harold, 9
Rosler, Martha, 4
Rossi, Ernest, 179n12
Rubber Ball Thrown at the Sea (Weiner), 208n22
Ruscha, Ed, 190n44, 207n18, 210n45
Some Los Angeles Apartments, 190n44
Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, 190n44
Russell, John, 174n11
Saturday Evening Post, 187n13
Scatter Piece (Andre), 203n15
Scenes (Barry), 113
Schema (March 1966) (Graham), 190n43
Scheme (Graham), 190n43
Schoenberg, Arnold, 181n30
School of Visual Arts (New York), 27, 29, 125, 127
Visual Arts Gallery, 133–134, 202nn7–9
Scull, Ethel, 10, 174n20
Scull, Robert, 10, 174n20
“Secondary information” (Siegelaub), 56, 69, 73, 83,
96, 115, 117, 122, 133, 154–156, 159, 163, 169
Second Investigation (Kosuth), 47, 49–52, 100, 128,
Seriality, 30, 47, 49, 51, 71, 84, 88–89, 92, 96,
105, 118–119, 181n30, 203nn17–18
Verb List, 194n15
Seth Siegelaub and Robert Gaile Oriental Rugs,
Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art, 10, 11, 12, 63, 84,
85, 174n20, 186n2, 196n11
Sharp, Willoughby, 200n7
Shirey, David, 155
Side Effect/Common Drug (Graham), 190n43
Sidney Janis Gallery, 44
Siegelaub, Seth. See also Seth Siegelaub Contempo-
and advertising, 12, 15–16, 24, 72, 149, 204n33
as art dealer, 174n17, 204n33
as artist, 58, 106, 160, 165–167, 209n38
artists represented by, 4, 16, 47, 107, 114, 117,
150, 161, 163, 187n9, 207n18
and Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agree-
ment, 164–169, 210n53
and artist’s rights, 151, 160, 164
and Art Workers Coalition, 125, 128, 160, 161,
and certificate of authenticity, 120, 178n51,
and conceptual art, 3, 5, 55, 56, 128–129, 152,
as consultant, 161
and corporations, 13–14, 136
correspondence with artists, 207n18, 208n29
distribution practices, 3, 5, 74, 120–121, 131,
133, 148–149, 157, 159–160, 164, 205n5,
and economic aspect of art, 1, 5
exhibition catalogues, 56–57, 72–75, 120, 149,
157, 159, 204n33
exhibition practices, 3, 5, 10, 35, 122, 128–129,
130, 131, 209nn31,33,37
exhibitions organized by, 3, 16, 18, 47, 60, 74, 115,
122, 123, 129, 134, 154, 155, 159, 161, 163,
177n38, 186n2, 190n41, 206n14, 207n18,
and exhibition space, 24, 74, 128, 153, 154
and framing, 18, 64–65, 120
and globalization, 154
and group exhibitions, 16, 18
and Image. Art Programs for Industry, Inc., 12–14,
and language, 140, 157
on LeWitt, 186n5
as moderator, 177n42, 201n9
and ownership of art, 4, 73, 120, 164, 168–169
and patrons, 10–11, 12, 13–14, 16, 72, 73, 149,
photograph of, 3
and primary information, 56, 73, 153–155, 159
and promotion of art, 3, 5, 12–15, 24, 42, 55,
56–57, 72, 120–122, 164, 169, 190n38, 204n33,
and publicity, 9, 10–11, 16, 24, 56–57, 106, 122,
130–131, 152, 161, 183nn59,63, 186n8
and public relations, 6, 12, 13–14, 16
relationship to Barry, 106, 196n11
relationship to Huebler, 62–65, 75, 133,
relationship to Kosuth, 26, 42, 47, 52–53
and secondary information, 56, 73, 117, 122,
and Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art, 10–11, 12,
and site specificity, 74
and value of art, 9
Weiner on, 5
and xerography, 134–136, 148, 155, 157,
“Siegelaub idea,” 160, 170
Signature, 4, 47, 86, 169
Sign value, 6, 15, 120, 131, 154, 156, 169, 199n39
“Simon Fraser Exhibition,” 156, 207n22. See also
May19–June 19, 1969
Site Sculpture Project. Windham College Pentagram
Site specificity, 18, 20, 70, 72, 74, 117, 190n44
Six Ten Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven
into Floor at Indicated Terminal Points (Weiner),
1600 kc Carrier Wave (AM) (Barry), 115–116
Smith, David, 186n2
Smith, Tony, 64–65, 196n2
Smithson, Robert, 27, 41, 187n14, 188n31, 209n30
Snow, Michael, 113
Social capital, 26
Solomon, Alan, 2
Some Los Angeles Apartments (Ruscha), 190n44
Sontag, Susan, 182n38
Spencer, Lannis Louis, 27, 179n9, 183n56
Stable Gallery, 196n7
Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf (Weiner), 89–91, 111,
“Statement of Intent” (Weiner), 97–98
Statements (Weiner), 95
Stella, Frank, 93, 106
Aluminum series, 88
Stephen Radich Gallery, 196n10
Stevens, Elisabeth, 103
Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 181n30
Straight, 27, 42
Structuralism, 77, 82
Studio International, 160, 164–167
Surface Indentations (Oppenheim), 65
“Systemic Painting,” 103, 105
Syverson, Terrence, 196n2
Takis, Vassilakis, 125–126, 200n7
Telepathic Piece (Barry), 208n22
Tele-Sculpture (Takis), 125–126
There Are Two Temperatures: One Outside, One Inside
36� x 36� Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of
Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall (Weiner), 98–99
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 196n7
Time (magazine), 9, 27, 40, 174n8
Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (Kosuth, 1967), 31,
Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (Kosuth, 1968), 33
Topol, Robert, 184n63, 198n29
Truro Series 3-66 (Huebler), 61
Tudor, David, 77
Turf, Stake, and String (Weiner), 93, 95, 194n16
“25,” 63, 186n2
Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (Ruscha), 190n44
Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor
from a Standard Spray Aerosol Can (Weiner), 44, 46,
Tworkov, Jack, 186n2
Ultrasonic sound, 115–117
United Fruit Company, 127
Untitled (Barry, 1967), 110
Untitled (Barry, 1967–1968), 108
Untitled (Barry, 1968), 112
Untitled (Weiner, 1966), 88
Use value, 15, 49, 120, 131, 154
aesthetic, 3, 8
artistic, 5, 40
of artwork, 7, 9, 14, 15, 22, 35, 168
economies of, 5
exchange, of art, 7, 8, 22, 49, 120, 154
investment, of art, 7
market, of art, 22, 168
and materials, 22
prestige, of art, 15
of public relations, 14, 16, 26
relative, of objects, 156
sumptuary, of art, 168
Vanguard, 8–10. See also Avant-garde
Variable Piece #1 (Huebler), 80
“Variable Pieces” (Huebler), 80–81
Varian, Elayne, 160
Venice Biennial, 125, 200n6
Verb List (Serra), 194n15
Vietnam War, 127, 168, 200n12
VIII. Eventuality (Art as Idea as Idea) (Kosuth),
Village Voice, 32, 174n20
Visual Arts Gallery. See School of Visual Arts
Vogue, 160, 174n8
Wagstaff, Samuel, Jr., 64
Warhol, Andy, 22, 23, 27, 29, 30, 32, 35, 52, 77, 80,
86, 120, 122, 124, 180n23
Do It Yourself, 80
Weber, John, 183n56
and advertising, 5, 100
An Amount of Bleach Poured on a Rug and Allowed to
Bleach, 98, 128
and art history, 100
artwork by, 17, 46, 84–95, 97, 98, 209n30
on Barry, 106
catalogue-exhibition of, 95
and chance, 93
and conceptual art, 93, 97, 100, 115
and consumer society, 86
and decentering role of artist, 84, 89, 92, 96–97,
100, 128, 195nn25–26
exhibitions, 16, 47, 89, 93, 95, 156, 161, 163,
183n63, 186n2, 207–208n22, 210n45
and fragmentation, 96
and framing, 197n18
and happenings, 89, 92
influence of Andre on, 89
influence of Flavin on, 89
influence of Warhol on, 86, 88
Kosuth on, 45
and language, 45, 93, 95–96, 98, 195n21
and material, 86, 89, 92, 95, 96, 97, 113
and minimalism, 88, 194n15
and nouveau roman, 96
One Hole in the Ground Approximately One Foot by
One Foot / One Gallon Waterbased White Paint
Poured into This Hole, 95
One Pint Gloss White Lacquer Poured Directly upon
the Floor and Allowed to Dry, 92–93
and patrons, 89
and pop art, 86, 89, 193n5
and practice of art, 45, 88, 89, 92
and presentation of art, 45, 84, 88, 89, 97, 111,
Propeller series, 84–86, 88, 93
publicity photo of, 58
and reception of art, 23–24, 68, 86, 88, 89, 92,
96–98, 111, 194n13
relationship to Graham, 20, 177n42
relationship to Siegelaub, 5, 16, 102, 106, 163,
Removal series, 88–89, 92–93, 95
A Rubber Ball Thrown at the Sea, 208n22
and secondary information, 96
on Siegelaub, 5
Six Ten Penny Common Steel Nails. Nails to Be Driven
into Floor at Indicated Terminal Points, 93–95
Staples, Stakes, Twine, Turf, 89–91, 111, 113,
“Statement of Intent,” 97–98
and temporality, 97
A 36� x 36� Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of
Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall, 98–99
Turf, Stake, and String, 93, 95, 194n16
Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly upon the Floor
from a Standard Spray Aerosol Can, 44, 46, 92–93
Untitled (1966), 88
at Windham College symposium, 19
Wendler, Jack, 6, 13, 16
Westerly Gallery, 104, 196nn3,11
“When Attitudes Become Form,” 2
White, Cynthia, 10
Whitney Museum of American Art, 127, 187n9
Whole Earth Catalogue, 168
Wilcock, John, 174n20
Wilson, Ian, 47, 183n63, 210n45
Windham College exhibition, 16, 18, 20–23, 44, 52,
64, 89, 111–113, 120
symposium, 19, 113, 197n24
Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper
Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art
(Bochner), 133, 202nn7–9
Xerography, 124, 133, 135, 202n8. See also Copy
“Xerox Book,” 133, 155, 157, 202nn4,5,9, 203n16,
Xerox Corporation, 157
“Xerox-degree of culture” (Baudrillard), 120
Yard (Kaprow), 177n41
Yunkers, Adja, 186n2
0.5 Microcurie Radiation Installation (Barry), 198n32
Zox, Larry, 186n2
6 Weiner, Lawrence (cont.)