Teachers Lesson Plans
What traditional notions of art are challenged by the work of Joseph Kosuth and Sol Lewitt?
By using text, Kosuth situates the art experience not in an object, but in the viewer's perception of the word and the definition. He criticizes the traditional view of art being embodied in a physical object. For Kosuth, the notion of masterpiece is obsolete. He also rejected the traditional definition of art as a beautiful object. Works of art are ideas that exist independently of the physical object. The physical object is considered simply the embodiment of the idea. "All my work exists when it is conceived because the execution is irrelevant to the art... the art is for an art context only." It's not the materials that make a work important, Kosuth noted: "It is the thinking. It is impossible to see my work. What is seen is the presentation of the information. The art exists only as an invisible, ethereal idea."
The wall drawings were executed by draftsmen who used Le Witt's detailed written instructions. They contain no distinguishable markings of the artist's hand. They have a manufactured, impersonal look. LeWitt like Kosuth questions the artist's craft and the uniqueness of the art object as a measure of value. Wall Drawing no. 623 also challenges the notion of permanence. Because it is created directly on the wall and cannot be removed, only painted over, it questions the idea of an art object as something precious and meant to be preserved.