Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art
Words to Be Looked At:
Language in 1960s Art
by Liz Kotz
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In Words to Be Looked At, art historian Liz Kotz takes on the monumental task of chronicling the use of language in 1960s Conceptual art. She charts its development from John Cage’s scored representations of time and chanced sound through various incarnations, including John Ashbery’s “poetics of collage,” Vito Acconci’s action poems, Joseph Kosuth’s equivalencies of text and object, and Lawrence Weiner’s literal writings on the wall. The trail culminates in Andy Warhol’s 1968 a: a novel, a purported day-in-the-life account transcribed directly from tape to page, complete with every dumb observation, garbled bit of gossip, er, and ahem.
Kotz’s thesis is elegant: a progression of signification and sampling that, by the time of Warhol’s antinovel, becomes an aesthetics of pure indexing—the formal collection
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