In a 1979 exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, American conceptual artist Michael Asher, known for his 'site-specific' work that investigates the relationship between a piece of art and its place of display, relocated a 20th-century bronze cast of Jean-Antoine Houdon's famous marble George Washington (1788) from the museum's front steps to an interior gallery. In placing the work in a new context, Asher sought to make the viewer aware of usually invisible institutional practices - the categorization of works of art, methods of display, and the criteria for assigning aesthetic value. This book focuses on Asher's 2005 installation at the Art Institute, for which he again relocated the statue, but to an entirely different effect. With reproductions of archival documents that chart the itinerant life of the bronze statue, installation photographs, a selected bibliography, and exhibition history, this book also features absorbing essays that examine the two installations and that offer a unique glimpse into the evolution of Asher's provocative and challenging artistic process.
James Rondeau is Frances and Thomas Dittmer Curator of Contemporary Art and Whitney Moeller is Research Assistant, Department of Contemporary Art, both at the Art Institute of Chicago. Annie Rorimer is an independent art historian.