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Artist Dan Graham – Round Peg Defies a World of Square Boxes

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Filed under: Art Pranks

A Round Peg
by Randy Kennedy
The New York Times
June 25, 2009

28716019-200Here’s a good art-world quiz question, one that could stump many an astute insider: What do Sol LeWitt, Sonic Youth, Dean Martin, Mel Brooks, Merle Haggard, Hudson River School painting and midcentury New Jersey tract housing have in common?

The answer, Dan Graham “” a Zelig of so many creative circles over the past four decades it is dizzying to keep track “” sat recently sipping an iced tea and eavesdropping on conversations at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where a retrospective of his work opened Thursday, finally adding him to the ranks of conceptual art”™s thorny 1960s pioneers to receive a full-blown American career survey. (The show, organized with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, began there and travels to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis after it closes in New York on Oct. 11.)

Among his conceptual peers, those who set out to wrest art from the realm of objects and move it more fully into one of ideas, Mr. Graham, 67, is someone whose work does not come easily to mind even for an informed artgoing public. In part this is because his restless intellect has never allowed him to settle into anything resembling a signature style or to be easily categorized. (Most attempts at categorization are parried by Mr. Graham himself with a professorial annoyance and fencer”™s agility, and he dislikes being called a conceptual artist and says he is not a professional one in any sense, calling art his “passionate hobby.”) (more…)