ART & LANGUAGE

The name Art & Language was first adopted in 1968, to refer to a collaborative practice that had developed over the previous two years between Michael Baldwin and Terry Atkinson, in association with David Bainbridge and Harold Hurrell. Over the next several years it stood for a collaborative practice with a growing and changing membership associated with the journal Art-Language, first published in May 1969, and subsequently with a second journal The Fox, which was published in New York in 1975-6. Joseph Kosuth was invited to act as American editor of Art-Language in 1969. In the following year Mel Ramsden and Ian Burn merged their separate collaboration with Art & Language. Charles Harrison became editor of Art-Language in 1971. By the mid 1970s some 20 people were associated with the name, divided between England and New York. From 1976, however, the genealogical thread of Art & Language’s artistic work was taken solely into the hands of Baldwin and Ramsden, with the theoretical and critical collaboration of these two with Charles Harrison who died in 2009.

Awards

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is pleased to present Sights Trapped by Liars, an exhibition of works by Art & Language.


Art & Language is a pioneering English conceptual art group founded in 1968 that questions the critical assumptions of mainstream modern art practice and criticism. One of the first objectives of the collective was to develop alternative forms of art production and art mediation by pursuing a radical practice across institutions, genres and categories. Their entire history is marked by a wide range of artistic and theoretical formats but also by an exceptionally humorous opposition to the exclusive purity of some conceptual artists. Characterized by a collaborative approach and a rhizomatic structure, each project takes the form of a Gesamtkunstwerk with multiple entryways, often associating texts, sculpture, music etc..


About Sighs Trapped by Liars, Art & Language says: “The term was first used by us in 1996, as the title of various works whose basic modular constituents are small canvasses that depict the pages of open books. The title was applied subsequently to particular works that took the form of ‘furniture’, constructed out of small canvasses depicting pages that show text by Art & Language. The first work to bear the title was shown at Documenta X in 1997.”


In a mise en abyme gesture, the photographs presented in the exhibition feature such furniture displayed in a domestic environment where overpainted isolated figures seem to grieve or contemplate an absence.


In another group of photographs, the sense of absence and distance is enhanced by overpainted white dots that blur the original image.


In 2007, Art & Language collaborated for the fourth time with Red Crayola, a psychedelic experimental rock band from Houston to release an album. Titled Sighs Trapped by Liars the album contains 13 songs written by Art & Language. The visual display of the lyrics exemplifies Art & Language’s interest in concrete poetry.


The lyrics of the song from which the album gets its name has its origin in a sado-masochistic text that has been revisited by Art & Language in the guise of Mrs Malaprop, a satirical character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 comedy-of-manners The Rivals.


One of the funniest aspects of Mrs Malaprop's character is that she often uses an incorrect word to express herself. The popularity of the play led to the creation of the literary term “malapropism”, meaning the practice (whether by intent or by accident) of using an incorrect word that sounds similar to the appropriate word.


Art & Language writes: “Indeed, Mrs. Malaprop has visited more than once. As it is her big night out, she gets to Malaprop her own text. Unlike French and Spanish, for example, English is poor in rhyme, and the vocabulary of low-grade pornography is restricted. Mrs. Malaprop is partly a rhymer. Her homophonic solecisms are thus applied and reapplied to a set of terms whose auditory shadows remain even as they recede. The original terms are ghosts whose meanings have been redirected by the new terms that have colonised them. They make a sort of sense.”


 


The name Art & Language was first adopted in 1968, to refer to a collaborative practice that had developed over the previous two years between Michael Baldwin and Terry Atkinson, in association with David Bainbridge and Harold Hurrell. Over the next several years it stood for a collaborative practice with a growing and changing membership associated with the journal Art-Language, first published in May 1969, and subsequently with a second journal The Fox, which was published in New York in 1975-6. Joseph Kosuth was invited to act as American editor of Art-Language in 1969. In the following year Mel Ramsden and Ian Burn merged their separate collaboration with Art & Language. Charles Harrison became editor of Art-Language in 1971. By the mid 1970s some 20 people were associated with the name, divided between England and New York. From 1976, however, the genealogical thread of Art & Language’s artistic work was taken solely into the hands of Baldwin and Ramsden, with the theoretical and critical collaboration of these two with Charles Harrison who died in 2009.


Solo exhibitions

2018

Sighs Trapped by Liars, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris Marais, France

2017


‘Nobody Spoke’, Kunstsaele, Berlin, Germany


2016


‘Not that is is needed now’, Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke-Zoute, Belgium


2014


‘Nobody Spoke’, Lisson Gallery, London, UK
‘Uncompleted’, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain


‘Made in Zurich: Art & Language Editions 1966–71’, Bernard Jordan Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland


2013


‘Letters to the Red Krayola’, Galerie Kadel Willborn, Dusseldorf, Germany Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium


Garage Cosmos, Brussels, Belgium
‘The Hut Project Painting with Art & Language’, blip blip blip, Leeds, UK


2012


Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland


2011


‘Official Squares Again’, Galerie Grita Insam, Vienna, Austria ‘Portraits and a Dream’, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK


‘Badges’, Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke, Belgium


2010


‘Portraits and a Dream’, Lisson Gallery, London, UK


Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA


2009


Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo, Finland


‘Recent Works’, Espacio Distrito Cu4tro, Madrid, Spain


‘Works on Paper’, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria


2008


‘Brouillages/Blurrings: Works on Paper’, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France


‘Works 1965–1978, 2007–2008’, Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke, Belgium


2007


Distrito Cu4tro, Galeria de Arte, Madrid, Spain



‘Now They Are Surrounded: Reconfigured’, London Metropolitan University, London, UK


2006


‘Il ne reste qu’à chanter’, Galerie de l’Erban, Nantes, France/Château de la Bainerie, Tiercé, France


2005


‘Hard to Say When’, Lisson Gallery, London, UK



‘Now They Are Surrounded’, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany; Guildhall Art Gallery, London, UK


Galerie Grita Insam, Vienna, Austria


2004


Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon, Portugal Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke, Belgium


Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Malaga, Spain


2003


Migros Museum, Zurich, Switzerland



‘What Work Does the Artwork Do?’, London Metropolitan University, London, UK


2002


‘Too Dark to Read: Motifs Rétrospectifs’, Lille Métropole Musée d’art modern d’art contemporain et d’art brut, Villeneuve-d’ascq, France


‘Mother, Father, Monday’, Lisson Gallery, London, UK


2001


’15 Essays’, Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke, Belgium