One and Three Chairs
(American, born 1945)
1965. Wood folding chair, mounted photograph of a chair, and mounted photographic enlargement of the dictionary definition of "chair", Chair 32 3/8 x 14 7/8 x 20 7/8" (82 x 37.8 x 53 cm), photographic panel 36 x 24 1/8" (91.5 x 61.1 cm), text panel 24 x 24 1/8" (61 x 61.3 cm)
In One and Three Chairs, Joseph Kosuth represents one chair three ways: as a manufactured chair, as a photograph, and as a copy of a dictionary entry for the word “chair.” The installation is thus composed of an object, an image, and words.
Kosuth didn’t make the chair, take the photograph, or write the definition; he selected and assembled them together. But is this art? And which representation of the chair is most “accurate”? These open-ended questions are exactly what Kosuth wanted us to think about when he said that “art is making meaning.” By assembling these three alternative representations, Kosuth turns a simple wooden chair into an object of debate and even consternation, a platform for exploring new meanings.
The visual portrayal of someone or something.
A form of art, developed in the late 1950s, which involves the creation of an enveloping aesthetic or sensory experience in a particular environment, often inviting active engagement or immersion by the spectator.