Joseph Kosuth – One and three chairs (1965)


 Chair, silla, cadeira, sedia, chaise, stol…


Different signs for the same meaning: a seat with a back, and often arms, usually for one person […]. Next to this meaning, we see the object that makes it concrete: a chair. To the left side of the chair, we find its photograph, as a representation of the object.

These are the three elements that make up One and three chairs, a work created by the artist Joseph Kosuth in 1965, fundamental to understand the Conceptual Art postulates. Kosuth relates the linguistic aspects to the objectual and the representational ones, decoding the system of the discourse. He explores different representation forms of the same concept: chair.  

The work requires a reflective work of the spectator: the exhibited object is not the fundamental thing because the artist exhibits, in equal conditions, his own photographic representation and a dictionary definition. It incites us to pay attention to an object of daily use, which in this case, is useless. When the chair was moved from its daily use to the sacralized space of the museum, it assumed a new meaning as a piece of art. 

It is only then that we understand that the object acquires its meaning through our use of it. In the same way that art can be configured in the space of mediation that exists between the object-work and the spectators.

Author: Renata Ribeiro dos Santos

Photo: Gautier Poupeau