Thursday, January 5, 2012

Donald Barthelme on Conceptual Art

Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs, 1965

BARTHELME: Conceptual art isn't something I'm overly fond of. It seems to me entirely too easy...
RUAS: Why would you say it's easy?
BARTHELME: Well, because it is easy.
RUAS: To be able to delineate concepts and have people understand the concept?
BARTHELME: Yes. I think as art it is entirely too easy.


BARTHELME: Had I decided to go into the conceptual-art business I could turn out railroad cars full of that stuff every day. My younger brother, who is a writer, Frederick Barthelme, was very interested in conceptual art at one time, and was as a matter of fact in a Museum of Modern Art conceptual art show, and he was friendly with Joseph Kosuth, who was sort of the papa of conceptual art. So I've listened to endless conversations about conceptual art, more than I wanted to hear about it, until my brother--who did it very well--finally stopped doing it and turned to prose on the grounds that there was not enough intellectual excitement in conceptual art. [from an interview with Charles Ruas and Judith Sherman, 1976, reprinted in Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews the Essays and Interviews by Donald Barthelme]

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