Joseph Kosuth

American, born 1945

Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) [Nothing in Italian]

© Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) [Nothing in Italian], 1967

Artwork Details


dictionary entry and ink mounted on cardboard


support: 5 5/16 x 4 3/8 inches (13.49 x 11.11 cm)

Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum


The Panza Collection and by exchange: George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, Albert H. Tracy Fund and Bequest of John Mortimer Schiff, 2015

Accession ID


For Joseph Kosuth, the work of art is the idea behind it—the physical manifestation of the idea is of secondary importance. The ideas most interesting to Kosuth are often terms that relate to art itself, ranging from “image” to “red” and “value.” These two works are from a set of six panels that each feature the dictionary definition of the word “nothing” in a different language. Here, the dramatic variation between the Danish, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish panels may prompt consideration of how different cultures wrestle with the difficult task of defining nothingness, a concept that is revealed to be socially constructed rather than universal. They also provocatively suggest the logical trap into which language so often falls. For example, if “nothing” is defined, does “nothing” actually become something? 

Label from The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, May 26–October 28, 2018