Arnon Grunberg

The university of the obvious


"In 1969, we were very free." That’s the first sentence of Peter Schjeldahl’s highly readable review of “1969”, an exhibition at P.S. 1.

The last paragraph of Schjeldahls’ review:

‘“1969” is authentically lugubrious; the only truly depressing aspect of the show is the inclusion of new work by young artists who prove that conceptually driven art, as a phenomenon in and about institutions, has gone essentially nowhere in forty years. Stephanie Syjuco re-creates works by Beuys. Why? (Richard Pettibone’s miniature repainting of a Frank Stella was already jejune in 1969.) Hank Willis Thomas reasonably—but tediously—fills in a missing African-American perspective with pieces reproducing pictures and headlines from Ebony and Jet. Messy installations by a group called the Bruce High Quality Foundation coyly critique museum functions. It seems that we’ll never be permitted to graduate from the university of the obvious.’

I have to admit that the distinction between conceptual art and long-term unemployment is not always clear to me.

A benevolent take on conceptual art would go like this: most art is made for humans, some art is made for pets but conceptual art is made for God.