New York

Dan Graham

Dia Center for the Arts

The fingerprints, smudges, scratches, reflections, and other side effects of display that accumulate on the surfaces of works of art constitute a life of art that is habitually denied. I remember a particular Rodin male nude, a hulking, seated figure positioned on a landing of a well traveled stairwell of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, parts of whose bronze anatomy glowed with a polished sheen bestowed by thousands of furtive caresses, the sort of reach-out-and-touch response that institutions forbid, but viewers nevertheless indulge. The lesson of the statue’s favored golden finger is that there are always things in the experience of art we are not supposed to notice—some responses to art are appropriate while others are not.

Of course, if the Rodin bronze sculpture were a work by Dan Graham, that polished finger would be its primary subject, pointing toward the behavior of people themselves

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