Christopher Williams: Kölnische Dramaturgie

Text by Tom McDonough

A concise introduction to the theatrics and rituals of the art fair

This latest book on the work of Los Angeles-born, Cologne-based photographer Christopher Williams (born 1956) explores the transparent theatricality of the modern art fair, inspired by Art Cologne 1967. Williams’ black-and-white photographs lead the viewer through clinical product shots from his Adapted for Use series paired with images of past art fairs, including the photographer’s own participation in a booth hosted by David Zwirner Gallery. The result is a stoic meditation of the object as commodity and the spaces in which these goods are purchased. This publication includes a feature essay by art historian Tom McDonough, who writes of Williams’ work: “trust in the transparency of the visual field [is] consistently and thoroughly undermined. The static set promised a totalized image and simultaneously withheld it, suspending the audience in an uncomfortable awareness of the lack inscribed in the pro-visual field.”


Publisher: Walther Koenig

Artists: Christopher Williams

Contributors: Tom McDonough

Publication Date: 2024

Binding: Softcover

Dimensions: 8.25 × 9 in

Pages: 50

Reproductions: 45 illustrations

ISBN: 9783753304571

Retail: $38

Status: Not Available

Christopher Williams

In the 1970s, Christopher Williams studied at the California Institute of the Arts under the first wave of West Coast conceptual artists, including John Baldessari and Douglas Huebler, only to become one of his generation’s leading conceptualists. Williams’s work is a critical investigation of the medium of photography and more broadly the vicissitudes of industrial culture, in particular its structures of representation and classification. Using the process of reproduction as a point of entry, the artist manipulates the conventions of advertising, the superficiality of surface, and ultimately the history of Modernism. Deeply political, historical, and sometimes personal, the photographs are meant to evoke a subtle shift in our perception by questioning the communication mechanisms and aesthetic conventions that influence our understanding of reality.

All Christopher Williams books