When these essays first appeared in Artforum in 1976, their impact was immediate. They were discussed, annotated, cited, collected, and translated–the three issues of Artforum in which they appeared have become nearly impossible to obtain. Having Brian O’Doherty’s provocative essays available again is a signal event for the art world. This edition also includes “The Gallery as Gesture,” a critically important piece published ten years after the others.
O’Doherty was the first to explicitly confront a particular crisis in postwar art as he sought to examine the assumptions on which the modern commercial and museum gallery was based. Concerned with the complex and sophisticated relationship between economics, social context, and aesthetics as represented in the contested space of the art gallery, he raises the question of how artists must construe their work in relation to the gallery space and system.
These essays are essential reading for anyone interested in the history and issues of postwar art in Europe and the United States. Teeming with ideas, relentless in their pursuit of contradiction and paradox, they exhibit both the understanding of the artist (Patrick Ireland) and the precision of the scholar. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.