The collapse of Art & Language in 1976 was not exactly a happy event, but
it was not a tragic end. Nearly all who had been involved with the collec-
tive continued to deploy its animating theoretical and practical concerns
through other artistic and intellectual activities that were as dispersed in
their impacts on art, art history, politics, and pedagogy as were the places
to which people relocated to pursue them. In this respect, the comedic
“‘. . . And Now for Something Completely Different . . .’” is an appropriate
title for the last work that the collective’s New York section sent out into
the world before disappearing. Its vanishing act is less an ending than an-
other transition in the series of reconfigurations that saw Art & Language
move quickly from its earliest work, which involved linguistically interro-
gating conventions about visual art, through a series of indexing projects
focused on knowledge and its acquisition to the more politically conscious
and explicitly Marxist work it was doing when it suffered the crisis that
jettisoned most of its membership. This process, which also involved many
smaller transformations, opened the collective’s constituency from a group
of four art teachers and art students at a single college in Coventry to an
international and eventually transnational cooperative involving dozens of
artists and critics working simultaneously on three continents to develop a
worldly politics out of conceptual art’s internationality. However, after the
breakdown of that dynamism, the work Art & Language had done to that
point would have “to be lived with,” as Charles Harrison wrote, “as forms
of history.”1
With this trajectory in mind, dispersing as Art & Language did in early
1977 can be regarded somewhat paradoxically as a further expansion of the
collective’s sociality that transcended its identity altogether and opened its
Conclusion
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