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Sean Kelly presents Joseph Kosuth - 'Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology' | Robert Mapplethorpe - Unique

Archive | Information & News

7 Nov 2015 to 19 Dec 2015
Tuesday - Friday 11am - 6pm, Sat 10am until 6pm
Sean Kelly
475 Tenth Ave
New York, NY
NY 10018
New York
North America
T: +1 212.239.1181
F: +1 212.239.2467

'Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology' an Installation by Joseph Kosuth
November 7 through December 19, 2015

Artists in this exhibition: Joseph Kosuth, Robert Mapplethorpe

'Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology' an Installation by Joseph Kosuth
November 7 through December 19, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, November 6, from 6 to 8pm
Sean Kelly is delighted to announce ‘Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology,’ a major installation of neon works over five decades by internationally acclaimed Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. This will be Kosuth’s first exhibition at the gallery since 2011 and his first exhibition in the new space. The opening reception will take place on Friday, November 6, from 6 to 8pm, the artist will be present.

Featuring over forty works dating from 1965 to the present, the installation simultaneously chronicles Kosuth’s fifty-year investigation into the role of language and meaning in art, and his consistent use of neon. The exhibition includes historic early works, featuring one of the most important neons Kosuth ever made, ‘Five Fives (to Donald Judd)’ [blue], (1965), alongside more recent works such as his ‘Camus Illuminated’ series (2013). Installed in a response to the gallery’s specific architectural space, ‘Agnosia, an Illuminated Ontology’ will employ areas never before activated for exhibition purposes, creating an all-encompassing and profound experience for the viewer.

A radical pioneer of conceptual and installation art, Kosuth initiated appropriation strategies, language-based works and the use of neon as a medium – considering it a form of ‘public writing’ without fine art associations – in the 1960s. Kosuth’s ongoing investigations into language and perception, and the appropriated use of literature, philosophy and psychology have characteristically taken the form of works in series, a format that opens up space for play and reflexivity in multiple directions. Key examples from the artist’s most iconic neon series will be on view, including elements from Kosuth’s renowned ‘Freud’ series (1981-1989), in which the artist puts the psychoanalyst’s texts regarding unconscious function-ing meaningfully into play using wall pieces and installations, and from his acclaimed ‘Wittgenstein’ series (1989-1993), which illustrate the fervent influence of the philosopher on Kosuth’s foundation of thinking, and belief that art should ask questions about itself, as a language engaged in the production of meaning.

Joseph Kosuth lives and works in New York and London. He has participated in numerous Documentas and Venice Biennales; his work is collected by major museums throughout the World. In 2001 Kosuth received the Laurea Honoris Causa doctorate in Philosophy and Letters from the University of Bologna and in 2003 the Austrian Republic’s highest honor for accomplishments in science and culture, the Decoration of Honor in Gold. In 2012 Kosuth was inducted into the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Kosuth’s exhibition entitled ‘ni apparence ni illu-sion’, an installation work throughout the twelfth-century walls of the original Louvre Palace, opened at the Musée du Louvre, Paris in 2009, and became a permanent work in 2014. His work on the façade of the Council of State of the Netherlands was unveiled in October 2011 and he is currently preparing a permanent work for the four towers of the façade of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Kosuth has recently been commissioned to create a major site-specific installation for a new cultural center being built to revitalize the former mining town of Kongsberg, Norway and for a new laboratory building being constructed on Novartis' extended Cambridge, Massachusetts campus, designed by architect Toshiko Mori.

Recent solo exhibitions include; ‘(Waiting for ¬–)’ Texts for Nothing Samuel Beckett, in play, at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2010) and – in an extended version – at the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich (2011); ‘Sigmund Freud and The Play on the Burden of Representation’, 21er Haus, Belvedere Museum, in cooperation with the Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, acknowledging the 75th anniversary of the death of Freud; and ‘Amneziya’, his first solo exhibition in Russia, at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. Most recently, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invited Kosuth to curate a special installation of his work alongside a selection of works by Marcel Duchamp from their permanent collection. The installation will be on view in their contemporary galleries beginning this fall for a year.


Robert Mapplethorpe

November 7 through December 19, 2015

Sean Kelly is delighted to present Unique, an exhibition of carefully selected Polaroid photographs taken between 1970 and 1975 by legendary American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The exhibition includes over twenty-five examples of Mapplethorpe's early use of instant photography. An opening reception will take place on Friday, November 6, from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

Featuring self-portraits, figure studies, still lifes, and portraits of his lovers and friends, Unique offers a glimpse at Mapplethorpe's formative years as a photographer and reveals the themes that would inspire him throughout his career. Marked by a spontaneity and creative curiosity, these intimate photographs offer an illuminating contrast to the carefully crafted and controlled studio images for which the artist subsequently became known.

Mapplethorpe once said, photography “was the perfect medium, or so it seemed, for the ‘70s and ‘80s, when everything was fast. If I were to make something that took two weeks to do, I’d lose my enthusiasm. It would become an act of labor and the love would be gone.” The Polaroid process was particularly appealing to Mapplethorpe for its immediacy and accessibility, providing him with the freedom to experiment and test the limits of picture making. These early images offer a window into Mapplethorpe’s creative development and his initial exploration of intimacy, composition, structure and design.

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, New York. He earned a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; where he produced artwork in a variety of media, mainly collage. The shift to photography as Mapplethorpe’s sole means of expression happened gradually during the mid-1970s. He became known for his portraits of artists, architects, socialites, stars of pornographic films, members of the S&M community and an array of other characters, many of whom were personal friends. During the early 1980s, his photographs shifted to emphasize classical formal beauty, concentrating on statuesque male and female nudes, flowers, still lifes and formal portraits. Mapplethorpe died from AIDS on March 9, 1989, in Boston, at 42. Since that time, his work has been the subject of innumerable exhibitions throughout the world, including major museum traveling retrospectives. His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Robert Mapplethorpe: Unique was organized in collaboration with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, which the gallery represents.


For media inquiries, please contact: Christine McMonagle at 212.239.1181 or
For all other inquiries, please contact: Cécile Panzieri at 212.239.1181 or

Sean Kelly Gallery
475 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
(212) 239-1181

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