Joseph Kosuth

Musee Champollion

In Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Shirley (1849), we read, “Order forbids details in a picture; she puts them tidily away, but details give charm.” I suspect that very few observers have used the term “charm” with regard to the work of Joseph Kosuth, but Brontë’s detailing of the antipathetic relationship between order and detail, between the general and the particular, seems appropriate as a means of approaching this artist’s continued attempt to strike a balance between language, pictorial effect, and the process of description. Ex Libris, J.F. Champollion (Figeac), 1991, commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture as a permanent installation, is a rare example of a project in which the intentions of both artist and producer seem to coincide. On one level, the piece commemorates the work of the French egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), born in Figeac, who devoted most of

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