Adolf Krischanitz, Barhocker (1986)

With its dark, stained and somewhat splayed feet this stool looks solid enough. But it was still not clear that sitting there was permitted. It was, after all, part of an exhibition.

It had its own plaque on the wall and, indeed, I was reading the very details relating to this piece, when I turned and saw what first I took to be an astonishing sculpture.

Barhocker appeared to feature a hyper-realist old man with finely rendered grey hairs. It took a second to realise, this was in fact my gallery going companion.

My father accompanied me on a recent trip to Vienna. But he wasn’t much interested in the meta-discourse on white cube spaces at the city’s famous Secession gallery.

Instead he wanted to take the weight off his feet. And never mind the reference to Joseph Kosuth who is infamous for putting chairs into galleries.

“You can’t sit on the art!” I almost shouted, pointing out that particular chair was an idea rather than a piece of furniture.

Its designer is an Austrian architect who presumably made severeal Barhocker pieces to go with his rennovation of this world famous institution in 1986.

This stool would have been the perfect place to gaze at the newly restored columns in the Hauptraum. They were once again clad in chrome steel and brass.

Because in 1991, they were painted over for a show curated by Kosuth, whose best known work was a chair accompanied by a photo and a dictionary definition.

His was not the only conceptual piece from the 1960s to involve a chair. Had this been a reference to George Brecht’s Chair Events, sitting there would have been just dandy.

But that’s a lot of back story to explain to a weary relative why an inviting seat in a contemporary art show is probably a perverse conceit. It does sound foolish.

DIE FÜNFTE SÄULE was a group show at Secession between September 9 – November 20, 2011. See gallery website for more details.

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