but is it art?
August 29, 2017 7:35 AM   Subscribe

at MOMA a few years ago (let's say 12 years?) there was a piece of... "art" displayed. if i recall it was a black cube or a single color nondescript painting (memory suggests cube sculpture but i might be wrong). hung near it was a legal affidavit sworn out by the artist and signed by a judge etc legally defining it as NOT art. i don't remember the language, but the gist was: "i created it, it's not art". who is this artist, and what is the non-art called?
posted by chasles to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think you may be referring to this. (See illustrations 148 and 149 plus relevant text.) It is a two-part work by Robert Morris, in the collection of MoMA, donated by the architect Philip Johnson. In the affidavit, Morris "withdraws from said construction all esthetic quality and content and declares that from the date hereof said construction has no quality and content." The "construction" being the other work, called "Litanies", consisting of lead over wood with a steel ring and keys and a brass lock. It was created in 1963 but could well have been exhibited around 12 years ago.

Here's more information about the items in the MoMA collection database, including the story behind the affadavit:
Each of the twenty–seven keys in Litanies is inscribed with a word from a text by artist Marcel Duchamp (American, born France. 1887–1968), whose emphasis on the ideas presented by a work of art rather than its aesthetic appearance informed much Conceptual art of the 1960s. When Litanies was purchased by architect Philip Johnson, Morris did not receive payment in a timely fashion. He created Document in response. The typed and notarized text serves to negate the "aesthetic quality and content of the original work," which is presented as "Exhibit A" in frontal and profile views. Johnson then purchased Document, thereby accepting the loss of the value of his first acquisition.
posted by beagle at 8:29 AM on August 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: that's it! i have zero recolection of the item "litanies" but "document" is what i remember...

thanks. this has bothered me for years. looking forward to reading more about robert morris.
posted by chasles at 10:38 AM on August 29, 2017

« Older What are you doing to deal with political stress?...   |   Will iPhone security be pointless with facial... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.