When Art Took the Words Out of Your Mouth

A picture is worth a thousand words. But what if that picture is filled with words, already?

Artists pursue the optimal way of communicating a message; however for some, that’s actualised by language itself. Having survived a sort of semantic satiation test, the formalism of words in Conceptual art, demonstrates that these pieces are founded upon a different rigour of aesthetics. Now, it is language that has the ultimate significance. Art fucking gets us! So here are only a few times that art literally took the words out of our mouths!

Christopher Wool. If You. 1992.

Thanksgiving has just passed, a time when relatives overstay the invite more often than not. Merlot flowed heavily, and what began with; “I’m thankful for…”, has turned into timed debates about legislation on reproductive rights and immigration policy proposals. We all remember what happened to a ‘house divided’… Wool’s painting certainly struck a cord with someone, as it fetched $24 Million at Christie’s in 2014. This one is for you, hostess with the mostest!


Barbara Kruger. Untitled (I shop therefore I am). 1987.

Just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season!

Appropriated from Descartes’ philosophy, we think Kruger’s critique on consumerism in popular culture is more pertinent than ever before. The artist’s penetrative aesthetic has been ironically appropriated into the logo of streetwear king, Supreme. Her scope of influence prevails in one of W’s most iconic issues, where Kim K is venerated as front page material with the subversive branding of Kruger’s legacy. Which bares the question, “Is it Art?


Mark Titchner. The World Isn’t Working. 2013.

As a Turner Prize nominee, Titchner’s magnificent piece undoubtedly packs a powerful, political punch. It is an appropriation of Saatchi & Saatchi’s advertising campaign, “Labour isn’t Working” for the Conservative party in 1979. However, it's the artist’s reformulation and interpretation in a contemporary context that rings as an espousal of our collective sentiments.

When we’re confronted by the media’s report of our imminent end, Titchner’s work exclaims our modern, rebel yell: “THE WORLD ISN’T WORKING”!


Ed Ruscha. I Can’t Not Do That. 1998.

Well if this isn’t the motto that has spurred every millennial’s bad decision on a night out, kidding. Ruscha’s painting holds much more gravity in its message than opting for that next mix drink.

A considered placement of text on tonal background disenchants viewers with a seeming, negatively-charged censure. And though his placement of text over a cliché, mountainous backdrop might be likened to a motivational poster from your ground school days; intimate examination reveals that Rushca’s message is purely uplifting.


Jenny Holzer. Don’t Allow the Lucid Moment to Dissolve from Without End: New and Selected Poems by Adam Zagajewski. 2007.

Denounce complacency and “let the radiant thought last in stillness”.
Moments of raw clarity are hard to come by, and often their verity is petrifying. However the lucidity of these moments connects us to the present, and gives us direction to our desired future. Embrace these moments to remain humble and confident in your power and in your destiny.

“Don't allow the lucid moment to dissolve
On a hard dry substance
you have to engrave the truth”

- Adam Zagajewski


Alejandro Diaz. Unknown Artists at Unheard of Prices. 2006.

Here at PHOA ,we definitely empathise with Diaz. What remains a conundrum to us, is the ‘unheard of prices’. Owning art should not be a distant investment or unrealised dream; Love Art, Collect Art. Simple.

Which is precisely why, we sell affordable art online and in store. All of our artworks are highly collectable as they’re produced in controlled, limited editions of 30. Nothing should stop you from living your dreams. Don’t allow this lucid moment to dissolve!





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