new-york

Bill Schwarz

John Gibson

Unlike Haim Steinbach or Jeff Koons, near contemporaries whose work can be seen as part of a tradition of readymades, Bill Schwarz focuses his critical attention not so much on the commodity’s newness but on its obsolescence. In this show, he distributed 12 farm-implement readymades—large-scale machines on the verge of disappearing from the scene of production—throughout the gallery. Although little has a deeper place in the American imagination than farming, the muteness peculiar to the readymade object made it difficult at first to gauge the critical force behind Schwarz’s collection of implements. Ultimately, however, his conflation of the romantic utility of farming and the no-comment status of the readymade is the source of the show’s achievement: a pointing up of the objects’ marginality that paradoxically restored to them a formal, and social, power.

Take, for instance, the rusted

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