When these essays first appeared in Artforum in 1976, their impact was immediate. They were discussed, annotated, cited, collected, and translated—the three issues of Artforum in which they appeared have become nearly impossible to obtain. Having Brian O'Doherty's provocative essays available again is a signal event for the art world. This edition also includes "The Gallery as Gesture," a critically important piece published ten years after the others.
O'Doherty was the first to explicitly confront a particular crisis in postwar art as he sought to examine the assumptions on which the modern commercial and museum gallery was based. Concerned with the complex and sophisticated relationship between economics, social context, and aesthetics as represented in the contested space of the art gallery, he raises the question of how artists must construe their work in relation to the gallery space and system.
These essays are essential reading for anyone interested in the history and issues of postwar art in Europe and the United States. Teeming with ideas, relentless in their pursuit of contradiction and paradox, they exhibit both the understanding of the artist (Patrick Ireland) and the precision of the scholar.
Brian O'Doherty, a.k.a. Patrick Ireland, is an artist and writer. His work has been shown in numerous galleries and museums in the United States and Europe. His books include Object and Idea (1967) and American Masters: The Voice and the Myth (1973, 1988).
"These famous essays are as fresh and stimulating today as when they jumped off the pages of Artforum. Those who have not read Brian O'Doherty will relish his poetically phrased, elegantly written, and ironically tempered taunt to so many received notions about twentieth-century mainstream art."—Jan van der Marck, author of Arman