Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is pleased to announce its first exhibition of Art & Language, opening
Saturday, April, 4th. In this début with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris/Salzburg, the well-known artist
collaborative Art & Language, composed today of Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, will present
selected works on paper from the past four decades. On the occasion of this exhibition, a book-length
catalogue with texts by Art & Language and the critic and art historian Barbara Rose will be published,
and a conversation with the artists—moderated by Barbara Rose—will take place at Galerie Ropac
Paris at 11 am on Saturday, April 4th.
Seen by many as the radical bad boys of Conceptualism, Art & Language have from the very
beginning taken a contrarian position within the traditional understanding of conceptual art and
practice. Their art making has encompassed many forms—be it writing lyrics and performing rock and
roll music with The Red Crayola in the 1960s, to constructing arcane indexical works, to writing the
now historical and famous journal Art-Language, to large, sculptural installations that employ portions
of their texts as building blocks. Their anarchic yet historically grounded discourse has simultaneously
energized and stymied audiences since their appearance at Documenta 5 in 1972.
At Documenta 5, Art & Language presented Index, a work that invites the viewer to act as interlocutor
for a complex assemblage of cross-referential texts. In partaking in the act of seeing, the viewer
becomes not only a reader but participant and conversationalist in their writerly practice, engaging in
Art & Languageʼs use of intertextuality in the same manner that a viewer “reads” and draws
connections between iconographic elements. Oneʼs “reading” of their works—whether on the page or
on the wall—is, however, by no means an act that aspires to achieve a certain whole meaning.
To the contrary, Art & Language is very much invested in an ambivalence towards corporate art
institutions and systems that is conditional upon a refusal of whole meaning.
The works presented in “Brouillages/Blurrings” carry with them the progeny of art historical
movements and transatlantic debates in critical theory that have spanned the 20th century and beyond.
Implicit in their process has been a powerful commitment to dismantle the traditional genres that have
been the cornerstones of art historical and critical enquiry since the Renaissance. In this exhibition, Art
& Language present their particular view of art historical practice—here presented as a questioning
strategy for further understanding—the raison dʼêtre of art making at this historical moment. Why and
how does an artist make work in the late 20th and now in the 21st century? This exhibition displays the
wide, panoramic, reverential view Art & Language takes of their predecessors—be it through nods to
Pointillism in the snow-covered table and chairs of There were Sighs Trapped by Liars (I), or direct
engagement with images of the European canon, such as Study for Gustave Courbetʼs Origine du
Monde; that Courbetʼs piece was a point of departure is interesting given its own rich image-text
history—having been owned at one point by Jacques Lacan and having inspired texts by Christine
Orban and Bernard Teyssèdre as well as a larger critical dialogue surrounding its provocative subject.
There is a layering upon the back of this history that occurs, as much on the page as between written
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. In 1970 Ian Burn and Mel Ramsden merged their separate
collaboration with Art & Language. The journal Art-Language was first published in May 1969 and a
second journal The Fox was published in New York in 1975-6. From 1976 the genealogical thread of
Art & Languageʼs artistic work was taken solely into the hands of Baldwin and Ramsden, with the
theoretical and critical collaboration of these two with Charles Harrison. Their recent writings have
appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry and Radical Philosophy. Art & Language have appeared
in many international exhibitions including further Documenta exhibitions in 1982 and 1997. They have
also had several retrospectives in recent years at the Jeu de Paume, Paris (1993), P.S.1
Contemporary Art Center, New York (1999), Musée d'Art Moderne, Lille (2002) and the Centro de Arte
Contemporaneo, Malaga (2004).
For further information regarding the exhibition, please contact Jill Silverman Van Coenegrachts
(email@example.com) or Dr. Arne Ehmann (+43 662 881393; firstname.lastname@example.org).
To obtain visual elements, please contact Zahra KH-Alam (email@example.com).