Ruth Barker

The Philosophy of Art after 'Art After Philosophy'



A discussion of Joseph Kosuth’s definition of art as a proposition within the world, with reference to the 1969 text ‘Art After Philosophy’.


a) “What is the function of art, or the nature of art?”

Joseph Kosuth, Art After Philosophy, 1969

 b) “A work of art is a kind of proposition presented within the context of art as comments on art… A work of art is a tautology in that it is a presentation of the artist’s intention… that a particular work of art is art, which means, is a definition of art. Thus, that it is art is true a priori.”

Kosuth, ibid.[1]


For an artist to question the nature and function of fine art and fine art practice as Kosuth does in quote a) is to enter into a philosophical engagement where the accuracy and specificity of language is paramount. To translate this into text, as Kosuth did in 1969 with Art After Philosophy, and which I will attempt to do here in response to the question posed, first of all requires a clear demarcation of ground and a working definition of the terms that will be used. Clearly, to define such terms is also to reveal them for discussion, and so I will open this essay by exploring Art After Philosophy’s specific terminology together with its implications and the light which this sheds on Kosuth’s hypothesis. I will then use this terminology to make clear the shape of the argument which Kosuth excogitates within his text, while the second part of this essay will comprise a contextual account of the original work exploring it’s place within the art world of the time and asking a number of questions as to the wider social/historical context in which it was written. I will then conclude by considering the cultural significance of the ideas which have been raised.

Within the essay, I will use inverted commas to suggest that a given term (e.g. ‘art’) is being used by Kosuth in a way that is particular to his argument or understanding. To take the following statement as an example of this: Kosuth states that:


“To look upon a cubist ‘masterwork’ now as art is nonsensical.” [2]


When he uses the term “art” in this case, Kosuth is clearly not intending the reader to interpret it with recourse to the accepted dictionary definition as it occurs in the English language[3], but instead writes with reference to his own definitions and ideals, which this essay intends to discuss.

In addressing the question of Kosuth’s definition of art, the most problematic term is arguably that of ‘art’ itself, which initially appears to struggle through Kosuth’s essay under the weight of a range of different meanings, as illustrated in quote b). However, the fact that Art After Philosophy does not reduce the term to an isolated state effectively means that the word retains its ability to exist as an idea of art as well as within a specific object or example. Indeed, Kosuth cannot define ‘art’ within this body because doing so would invalidate his suggestion (voiced within the quotation) that fine art should attempt only to question the nature of fine art. ‘Art’ in such a state of flux cannot be defined, as it must constantly reinvestigate its assumed definitions. Rather than pin down his vocabulary here then, Kosuth instead frames it by incorporating a series of quotations from a range of critical thinkers into the matter of his essay, and it is this framing which becomes important as we consider his terminology.

To consider this Reinhardt quote from the 1962 essay ‘Art as Art’, which Kosuth uses near the beginning of his own text:


“The one thing to say about art is that it is one thing. Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else. Art is nothing but art. Art is not what is not art.” [4]


However, this statement effectively allows this discussion of the term ‘art’ to consider the difficulties inherent in the attempt to use any given state to understand that same state linguistically. The significance of the mechanics of this is paramount.

As Reinhardt states elsewhere in ‘Art as Art’:


“The one subject of a hundred years of modern art is that awareness of art of itself, of art preoccupied with its own process and means, with its own unique statement, art conscious of its own evolution and history and destiny, toward its own freedom, its own dignity, its own essence, its own reason, its own morality and its own conscience. Art needs no justification with ‘realism’ or ‘naturalism’, ‘regionalism’ or ‘nationalism,’ ‘individualism’ or ‘socialism’ or ‘mysticism’, or with any other ideas.” [5]


Reinhardt describes, and Kosuth follows him in describing, a philosophical ideal wherein a given entity can be both subject and object of itself. ‘Art’ is here conducting a study of ‘art’ itself – implying that art must be able, in abstract terms, to divide itself in order that it may observe itself while at the same time being observed by itself. In 1890, William James in his ‘Principles of Psychology’[6] discussed this phenomena as the process occurring when a person thinks about themselves thinking; claiming that the identity observing and observed (in our case, Art) splits into two distinct states, which he terms the ‘I’ state (the self as ‘knower’) and the ‘me’ state (the self as ‘known’). In terms of Kosuth’s use of the word Art in this way, one significance is that the body of the artist is entirely removed from the equation, allowing the ‘art state’ to exist purely in and of itself. If we are to discuss Kosuth’s hypotheses in any way then this is a vital distinction to make as it forms the crux of his ability to define ‘art’ at all, implying a singular united ‘identity’ for art – a whole which may be split [7].


Kosuth clarifies this distinction in Art After Philosophy by the additional use of the term ‘art condition’. This is applied to describe the point at which a work of art is functioning within an ‘art’ context to appropriately question the nature of ‘art’ through conceptual growth. It is the aspect of art, or art-related things (such as ideas, artists, practices etc.), which exists within ‘art’, without relation to things other than, or outside ‘art’.


The isolation of the term ‘art condition’ must form the beginning of an explicit discussion of how (using the terms we have examined), Kosuth defines art as a proposition within the world, as his very identification of the existence of an ‘art condition’ is surely significant. Firstly, by identifying Marcel Duchamp’s Readymade as “giving art its own identity”, Kosuth suggests that this identity necessitates a shift from an art which addressed morphology, to ‘art’ which addresses function solely. It follows that all elements which are secondary to function should be removed, and, as Kosuth asserts that the function of ‘art’ is solely to address and question ‘art,’ this must include many aspects which he claims have previously been assumed or unquestioned[8].  By eliminating such extraneous aspects, Kosuth attains and elevates the ‘art condition’ which he then goes on to examine. The ‘art condition’, he claims, may be considered as a proposition in Kant’s terms, whereby a distinction is made between analytic and synthetic linguistic propositions. An analytic proposition is one where validity is determined internally, while a synthetic proposition, in contrast, may have empirical validity through comparison with external facts, states, or truths. As Kosuth argues:


“Works of art are analytic propositions. That is, if viewed within their context – as art – they provide no information what-so-ever about any matter of fact.”[9]


“ The validity of artistic propositions is not dependant on any empirical, much less any aesthetic, presupposition about the nature of things.”[10]


In the terms of this essay, Kosuth defines ‘art’ as a proposition wholly separate from the world. The world exists, certainly, but the degree of influence which ‘art’ takes from it, or is affected by it, should be minimal or negligible at most.

It is clear, then, how easily any criticisms of Kosuth’s argument may be invalidated if there is an attempt to evaluate it empirically with recourse to information outside of its ‘art condition’[11]. However, in order to address this essay appropriately we must tender a philosophical position outside of Kosuth’s own text in order to discuss the definition we have articulated above. This move could be validated in two ways: by allowing ourselves the exercise of discussing the text as a synthetic proposition; or by suggesting that, as artists, we exist within an ‘art condition’ ourselves and so can weight ourselves against his hypothesis in this manner. For the sake of analysis we will attempt to combine these approaches, firstly discussing Art After Philosophy in relation to the art movements at the time and Kosuth’s peers and contemporaries of the late 1960’s in particular, and secondly to propose a historical and social overview of the changing cultural climate within which art holds a place.


Kosuth constructed Art After Philosophy as an essay into the American intellectual art establishment as well as a way to explore the issues of the “avant-garde idea of ‘art as idea’”[12]. On its publication, the text effectively clarioned Kosuth’s position within the anti- Modernist debate encompassing America at that time, and as Kosuth was not unique in his stance, nor was he unique in voicing his criticism. To establish a brief chronology and peer group wherein this essay can suggest the ‘nature and function’ of Kosuth’s attitudinal background, we should highlight a number of the artists working contemporaneously with Kosuth.


Art After Philosophy’s publication in 1969 coincided with that of Sol LeWitt’s ‘Sentences on Contemporary Art’, a distilled version of 1967’s ‘Paragraphs on Contemporary Art’. ‘Art and Language’ (an English group comprising Terry Atkinson, Michael Baldwin, David Bainbridge and Harold Hurrell) had been formed the year before, in 1968, while Donald Judd wrote ‘Specific Objects’, a call for ‘three dimensional art’ which was “neither painting nor sculpture”[13], late in 1965. Although these artists (Laurence Weiner and Victor Burgin should also be mentioned here) were working towards similar ends at a similar time, it would nevertheless be wrong to perceive them as any kind of homogenous group. Kosuth himself states that:


“I would like to make it clear that I intend to speak for no-one else. I arrived at these conclusions alone, and indeed, it is from this thinking that my art from 1966 (if not before) evolved. Only recently did I realize [sic] after meeting Terry Atkinson that he and Michael Baldwin share similar, though certainly not identical, views to my own.”[14]


Similarly, LeWitt, though espousing similar beliefs to Kosuth’s[15] does so independently, although the ‘Sentences…’ were coincidently first published in the first edition of the Art-Language journal (of which Kosuth was later invited to act as editor). The catalyst that preceded this growing series of vocalisations may certainly be identified as the process by which Modernism, relatively unassailable during the 1950’s, had begun to flounder. The reasons behind this change of state were complex and several, but during the 1960’s at least, Harrison and Wood argue[16] that Modernism’s hugely dominating influence rendered it too inflexible to deal with the critical challenges which were beginning to be voiced. Perhaps also significant were the social changes which were simultaneously occurring: the roots of Modernism may be found in late 1940’s America when distinctions between identifiable types of communicative methods (e.g. a ‘high’ or ‘low’ art) could be made clearly, and when there was also a generalised distinction between ‘European’ and ‘American’ practices and attitudes. These shifts, which continued into 50’s America, seemed to cement many Modernist beliefs, but during the next decade the problematic preconceptions of taste and preference began to be more starkly realised. The current location of Modernist criticism began to seem far from the disinterested objective standpoint it had professed, as Kosuth claims of the critic Clement Greenberg:


“Above all things Clement Greenberg is the critic of taste. Behind every one of his decisions is an aesthetic judgement, with those judgements reflecting his taste. And what does his taste reflect? The period he grew up in as a critic, the period ‘real’ for him: the fifties.”[17]


It was in response to this perception of Modernism’s fallibility, then, that a number of younger artists began to submit alternatives – Kosuth significant among them perhaps because within his own definition of ‘art’, he retains the Modernist idea of a reductivism of art’s interests and a preoccupation with defining and refining the scope of the art object or idea. This approach may ironically be seen as a relic of Greenbergian ideals which posit the narrowing and tightening of art’s span into a honed and specific tool, the difference being the shape, language, and purpose of that tool. Kosuth’s text ‘Art After Philosophy’, and its definition of art as a proposition exclusively distinct from the world, represents a train of thought on the cusp between two discourses. Kosuth is championing the fall of Modernism, he criticises it openly and berates its limitations, but he seems to some degree to be still bound within Modernism’s structures of understanding.


It is important to state, however, that this approach was not the only one pursued as Modernism as a tract began to become unfashionable. A range of other artists with concerns very different to those of LeWitt or Atkinson, were also Kosuth’s contemporaries, and Kosuth’s definition of art as a proposition must be identified as a relational ‘manifesto’ which was placed within a widening discourse. Those suggesting alternative directions for art practice included artists calling for re-evaluation of the worth of the art gallery’s confines, such as Robert Smithson, as well as practicioners like Gordon Matta-Clarke who began to blur boundaries between disciplines. Again, an influential number, Robert Morris and Joseph Beuys notable among them, began to suggest the importance of the viewer’s experience and perception. Clearly, among these examples there exists a necessary degree of both difference and overlap, but what should be reinforced is the variety of responses and claims which were offered by a variety of artists, Kosuth being a figure among them.


This multitude of emerging attitudes toward art making and thinking perhaps indicates a notable criticism of Kosuth’s text in which he intimates a linear and shared view of the function of art. It would be difficult to incorporate Kosuth’s fairly limited definitions of art and art audiences (“the ‘man on the street’ is intolerant of artistic art”[18]) with the sheer breadth of ideas and functions which art practice was beginning to inhabit. Kosuth’s text arguably seems isolationist in this manner, as he unleashes a dogmatic ‘programme’ which prescribes legitimacy for artists apparently universally. This mode of isolation, this expressed desire not to be “flung out of art’s ‘orbit’ into the ‘infinite space’ of the human condition”[19] will now be considered ‘synthetically’ in Kosuth’s terms - looking out at that ‘infinite space’ to ask what matter this strict divide was constructed from.


Art After Philosophy was written in 1969, at a time when America was hung in a moment of considerable political and social imbalance. Kosuth includes an almost poignant description of one aspect of this period within the text itself:


“One can fly all over the world in a matter of hours and days, not months. We have the cinema and color television, as well as the man-made spectacle of the lights of Las Vegas or the sky-scrapers of New York City. The whole world is there to be seen, and the whole world can watch man walk on the moon from their living rooms. Certainly art or objects of painting and sculpture cannot be expected to compete experientially with this?”[20]


However, Kosuth does not explicitly mention the ‘flip side’ of this visually-affluent moment. Certainly the monumental popularity of colour television and the increasing importance of the media in general was delivering spectacle on a daily basis, but it was also delivering images of horror in a way which was very accessible. It could be suggested that at the time Kosuth was writing, ‘the whole world’ (although presumably he only means Western Europe and the United States, here) were being presented with a daily platter of political folly and atrocity which it would have been hard to ignore.


 During the same year as Art After Philosophy was written, for example, as well as men landing on the moon, Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th U.S.U.S. citizens were protesting against the continuation of the Vietnam War which was reporting over 100 American combat deaths in a week. The controversial trial of Mitchell and Calley’s involvement in the Mylai Massacre also opened and an awareness of the brutality of the conflict was permeating American society to a significant degree – especially within intellectual and left-wing circles. Outside of the U.S., inflation was becoming a worldwide problem, while Britain was also undeniably involved in violent questions of culture, nationality and conscience as Enoch Powell attempted to ‘repatriate’ Black and Asian residents just as 500 British Army troops were dispatched to Ireland to ‘keep the peace’ after bloody rioting in Belfast. We might legitimately ask whether the brooding question of the Vietnam War might have affected the way that Kosuth, a 24 year-old man living in America, considered the nature and function of art within such a fraught and seemingly instable world, and attempted to define art as a proposition within that world. In 1970, Art Forum printed a number of responses from artists to the question of the kinds of political action which should be taken by artists[21]. Kosuth’s response is not recorded, but Art After Philosophy may be taken as an indication of his desire to remove art from the context of the shock of America’s contemporary socio-political environment, rather than solely as an abstract linguistic proposition. The idea of art as an analytic proposition is arguably abstract, as the suggestion of an ‘art’ functioning entirely without influence from the world is a psychological improbability. The viewer who experiences the work, as well as the artist who makes it, cannot fail to have a history, experiences, memories and beliefs about things other than art. As we cannot ‘un-know’ something once known (knowledge must inevitably change the knower, after all, even at a chemical level within the brain), Kosuth’s proposition must exist as a hypothesis only. A linguistic game; as his ‘art condition’ can never, in effect, be isolated except linguistically. Kosuth himself did come to ameliorate his position. By 1992, a catalogue essay on his 1990 installation ‘The Play of the Unmentionable’ in the Brooklyn Museum, states that:


“Kosuth links his political agenda with his concern for the nature and concept of art thus: we cannot ignore the link between politics and the concept of art precisely because the presentation of the work in the museum or gallery is an ideological position, by the very fact of its institutionalization [sic].

... the catch lies in the play between our own responses to objects as objects, referring to the world of facts beyond them, and our responses to the objects understood (by virtue of denomination or installation) as works of art.”[22]


In conclusion this essay might suggest that perhaps the shift which had occurred by then was not simply that:


“…the early phase [of Kosuth’s work] was the philosophy of Wittgenstein, that of the second phase was radical anthropology, and that of the third phase was the philosophy of Freud.”[23]


But that something other than Joseph Kosuth’s loci of research had shifted, and has shifted, both in the continent of art and in the world in general, a concept which will now be tentatively introduced. Around the time of Art After Philosophy, there existed something of a fetishisation of the idea of ‘art’. An idea, exemplified by Kosuth, of art’s ‘purity’ to some degree – its qualitative difference to that which is ‘not-art’. It could conceivably be argued that this fixation with art’s identifiablity (the idea, intimated by Art After Philosophy, of a ‘whole’ or a consistent identity) coincided with the increase of artists (Kosuth included) who were working in non-traditional art-forms to open the possibilities of what art might and might-not be. It was at this time, as we have already identified through examples such as Smithson and Matta-Clarke, that as well as the conceptual school works described as ‘process-based’, ‘time-based’, ‘site-specific’, ‘public’, ‘interventionist’ etc, etc, began to establish a place within the serious art canon, increasingly encouraging the perennial question of ‘but it is art at all?’ Kosuth’s faith in a rigid identity-structure for art comes at a time when the ‘unity’ of art was in fact being broken down and contemporary art practice was becoming, and has now become, a multiplicity in terms of form and function.

Kosuth talks of ‘the tradition’ in Art After Philosophy. He mentions that:


“If an artist accepts painting or sculpture he is accepting the tradition that goes with it.

…the European tradition of a painting-sculpture dichotomy”[24] [emphasis mine].


I would argue that no such singular tradition may any longer be assumed. In Britain alone, consideration must be given to a plurality of traditions, all valid, and all followed within art practice – an Indo-European tradition, for example; an North African tradition, a West Indian tradition, a specific Islamic tradition, and so on. Not simply do we now consider the breadth of art practice in terms of a range of cultural influence, but the traditions of habitually separate discourses are also becoming less easy to distinguish[25]. Advertising now routinely appropriates images originally made as fine art (an image of Damien Hirst’s ‘Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ has recently been used as a book jacket illustration), or simply references fine art - either as a genre or through specific artworks or artists[26].


Perhaps one result of this degree of post-modern layering of experience has been to suggest a definition of art which is far less concrete that that which Art After Philosophy chases, and flexible enough to allow difference to become a strength. Undoubtedly, as practitioners, we also recognise the multiplicity of the possible functions of art whereby the aims and intentions of someone working site-specifically with sound-art would not be expected to necessarily relate to those espoused by a gallery-based text artist, but may not be seen as entering a hierarchy such as that suggested by Kosuth because of this.


Art After Philosophy is no less valuable because Kosuth in time became less extreme in his opinions, nor because we read it now across a temporal cultural divide. Rather the text should perhaps be considered as a historical document, emerging at a particular time in a particular continent and crystallising a particular set of culturally relative beliefs and assumptions. It is no irony that our judgements of Kosuth’s argument are as culturally determined as his own, nor that this summing up is entirely synthetic in nature. Kosuth defines art as ideally being entirely separate from the world, but this proposition seems to flout the contemporary understanding which describes the nature of our perceptions of what that world might be, as fluctuating, as temporally and culturally specific. Attitudes shift just as culture and societal experience changes, and the text of Art After Philosophy is arguably as significant for all the things which it does not say, as for its youthfully didactic content.






Becker, Carol (ed) The Subversive Imagination; artists, society and social responsibility

1994, Routledge


Damsch-Wiehager, Renate (ed) No Thing, No Self, No Form, No Principle (Was Certain)

1992, Edition Cantz


Gonzalez-Torres, F; Kosuth, J; Reinhardt, A; Symptoms of Interference, Conditions of Possibility

1994, Academy


Gross, Richard D. Psychology The Science of Mind and Behaviour (second edition)

1993, Hodder and Stoughton


Harrison, Charles and Wood, Paul (ed) Art in Theory 1900-1990; an anthology of changing ideas.

1992, Blackwell (2001 edition)


Smithson, Robert The Writings of Robert Smithson (edited)

1979, New York University Press


Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy and After; collected writings 1966-1990

1991, MIT Press


Kotik, Charlotta, with Freedberg, David The Play of the Unmentionable

1990, Thames and Hudson


Wittgenstein, Ludwig Philosophical Investigations

1968, Blackwell





Art Forum

26, number 7, March 1988

Kosuth, Joseph, essay; No Exit (p 112 – 115)


Studio International

Number 915 (Volume 178) October 1969

Kosuth, Joseph, essay; Art After Philosophy (p 134 – 137)


Studio International

Number 916 (Volume 178) November 1969

Kosuth, Joseph, essay; Art After Philosophy (p160 – 161)


Studio International

Number 917 (Volume 178) December 1969

Kosuth, Joseph, essay; Art After Philosophy (212-213)



[1] Art After Philosophy was first published in three parts in Studio International, in October, November and December 1969. This essay will refer only to the first section of the original essay, as it is here that Kosuth develops the theoretical side of his argument. For convenience, all page numbers and references will refer to the Art in Theory (Harrison and Wood, 2001 edition) reprinted extract of this text. Quote a) – Kosuth, Joseph, Art After Philosophy p 845. Quote b) – Art After Philosophy p 845-6

[2] ibid p. 845

[3] Definitions of art are complex, an issue which I will return to at some length later in the essay. For now it is perhaps enough to emphasise that Kosuth uses the term in a very narrow range, in contrast to most standardised definitions. The Encarta® World English Dictionary, for example, includes the following:                                                                                                         

1.             the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works, for example, in painting, music, or writing

2.             beautiful or thought-provoking works produced through creative activity

3.             a branch or category of art, especially one of the visual arts)

4.             the skill and technique involved in producing visual representations

5.             the study of a branch of the visual arts

6.             creation by human endeavour rather than by nature

7.             the techniques used by somebody in a particular field, or the use of those techniques

8.             the skill or ability to do something well

9.             the ability to achieve things by deceitful or cunning methods (literary)


AFrom Ad Reinhardt ‘Art as Art’, in Art International IV, no. 10. Reinhardt’s essay was published six years before Kosuth’s, and contains several ideas which Kosuth appears to have gone on to develop in Art After Philosophy. Kosuth’s ‘analytic propositions’ seem closely related to Reinhardt’s ‘art as art’ ideal. 

[5] ibid. As Kosuth claims [Art After Philosophy, p 847.] that “Reinhardt had a very clear idea about the nature of art, and his importance is far from being recognised”, I feel that this is enough to legitimise using his text to contextualise Kosuth’s terminology. Kosuth writes extensively on Reinhardt in Symptoms of Interference, Conditions of Possibility saying, of him that [p 46] “it is a function of my desire to honour an artist who has held my deepest regard from a young age.”

4 James, W. The Principles of Psychology (1890), Described in Gross, Richard, Psychology; The Science of Mind and Behaviour, second edition, p  610 Theories of Self.

[7] Kosuth studied philosophy at the New School for Social Research, New York City, between 1970-1971, an interest which perhaps this text, with its linguistic academic structure, and its explicitly comparative opening paragraph discussing the ‘end of philosophy and the beginning of art’ prefigures. The other significance of this ‘knower/known’ separation is that art is perhaps effectively lent a residue of cognition, and so, consciousness.

[8] Here Kosuth would include (amongst other things) aesthetics/ morphological taste, the expression of the artist, the influence of “the infinite space of the human condition”, decoration or politics.

[9] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 845

[10] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 846

[11] By this we are not implying that Art After Philosophy exists as an art object itself, but rather that the arguments it presents in relation to the nature and function of ‘art’ are superficially at odds with an empirical validation.

[12] So termed by Harrison and Wood in the introduction to the edited version of Art After Philosophy in Art in Theory.

[13] Donald Judd, Specific Objects, 1965 Arts Yearbook.  Although Judd claims that “three dimensional art doesn’t constitute a movement, school or style” [Specific Objects, reprinted in Art In Theory, p 809] what his claim does do is offer an alternative direction to the Modernist model which had gone before it.

[14] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 849 footnote 5.

[15] In the Sentences on Contemporary Art, for example, LeWitt states that “all ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art” (Sol LeWitt, Sentences on Contemporary Art, 1969, Art-Language, Vol.1, No. 1.)  Clearly there is a sympathetic relationship between this opinion and that extolled by Kosuth. To repeat and expand upon quote b): “…saying that a particular work of art is art, which means, is a definition of art. Thus, that it is art is true a priori (which is what Judd means when he says that ‘if someone calls it art, its art’)” Art After Philosophy p 845-6

[16] Harrison and Wood, Art in Theory, 1900-1990 p797.

[17] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 843

[18] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 846

[19] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 847

[20] Kosuth, Joseph ibid

[21] Reprinted in Art in Theory, p 897-901. Smithson’s response [p. 900] may be useful to consider here, as he expresses a conviction that art cannot be kept separate from it’s external context (that outside the ‘art-condition’) because art’s relationship with its maker, who is subsumed by that world, prohibits it: “The artist does not have to will a response to the ‘deepening political crisis in America’. Sooner or later the artist is implicated or devoured by politics without even trying. My ‘position’ is one of sinking into an awareness of global squalor and futility.”

[22] Freedberg, David Joseph Kosuth and the Play of the Unmentionable, catalogue essay from The Play of the Unmentionable p 41-2

[23] Freedberg, David Joseph Kosuth and the Play of the Unmentionable, catalogue essay from The Play of the Unmentionable p 40

[24] Kosuth, Joseph Art After Philosophy p 844

[25] It is of course acknowledged that it is only relatively recently, and only within a set cultural tradition, that schools such as fine-art, graphics, advertising etc. have ever been distinguishable at all.

[26] The car adverts in which people were shown holding placards with hand-written ‘personal’ statements, for example, being a direct nod towards Gillian Wearing’s work. Fine art has also, of course, become adept at using not just the language of advertising but also pop-culture more broadly, and in a much more complexly integrated way than it occurred in the work of an older generation – consider the work of Glasgow artists Beagles and Ramsey, for example, in comparison to Warhol.