The Dematerialization of the Art Gallery

Seth Siegelaub's One Month

One Month (March 1–31, 1969) was the first exhibition to exist solely in catalog form—a purely conceptual show that did not contain physical works present in a physical space. Rather, the art on display was the intangible artistic gesture. The curator Seth Siegelaub requested "works" from 31 artists, one for each day of the month, to contribute to the exhibition. Artists such as Claes Oldenburg, De Wain Valentine, John Chamberlain, Robert Morris and Lawrence Weiner contributed work while others, like Sol LeWitt and On Kawara, never replied, indicated by a blank page (a gesture perhaps as powerful and mystifying as the other works, or, on the other hand, completely inconsequential).

In Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966-1972, Lucy Lippard defines conceptual art as: "work in which the idea is paramount and the material form is secondary, lightweight, ephemeral, cheap, unpretentious and/or 'dematerialized'". Bound with staples, informal in its printing and presentation and given away for free, One Month challenges traditional notions of the "artist's hand" and the spaces, curation and valuation of art.  This one small, transgressive artistic act in March of 1969 tells of the coming monumental shift the art world would experience and the advent of time-based, performance, land and mail art that proliferated in the 1970s.

Seth Siegelaub had begun to reinvent the role of the "art dealer" as distributor extraordinaire...[his] strategy of bypassing the art world with exhibitions that took place outside of galleries and/or New York and/or were united in publications that were art rather than merely about art dovetailed with my own notions of a dematerialized art that would be free of art-world commodity status. A practical man, unencumbered by addiction to idealogy or esthetics, [he] went right ahead and did what had to be done to create international models for an alternative art network.

Lucy Lippard

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