Joseph Kosuth - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sprüth Magers Lee, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 1967, North, South, East, West belongs to the series entitled Art as Idea as Idea, in which Kosuth replaced both image and object with language. Illustrated in clear white letters on a black background, North, South, East, West presents exactly what we are seeing, thus denying other interpretations of these works. By pulling out dictionary definitions and making them bigger, he turns the words 'north', 'south', 'east' and 'west' into objects, which invite us to inquire in what ways their meaning changes. Incorporating a verbal approach to his art practice, Kosuth began to explore the connection between language and art in order to investigate the socio-political and economic circumstances through which art was displayed, and question the means by which casual objects become elevated to a high art status and cultural significance.

    In this de-materialistic approach, Kosuth sees the dictionary definition as the actual object of art. The enlarged Photostat merely functions as a tool of exhibition; as Kosuth stated, art should communicate “definitions of art”, not the “behaviour of physical, or even mental objects” (Joseph Kosuth, “Art after Philosophy”, Art After Philosophy and After: Collected Writings, 1966-1990, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991, p.166).


North, East, South, West (From Art as Idea as Idea)

offset print on vinyl, in four parts
each: 120 x 120 cm (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in.)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £158,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm