Stephan von Huene

What's wrong with Art?


Artist / Artist group
Stephan von Huene
What's wrong with Art?
installation, computer-based
Material / Technique
wood, metal, organ pipes, organ valves, 3 computer (PC, operating system: MS DOS 5.0, custom software), 3 speakers, 1 slide projector
Dimensions / Duration
dimensions variable
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

Stephan von Huene’s sound sculpture »What’s Wrong With Art?« is part of a work series that employs art criticism jargon and the use of language to tackle the question »What’s wrong with culture?«

The ensemble of sculptures consists of three large wooden constructions, each painted in a classic modernist color—the primary colors red, yellow, and blue—and fitted with organ pipes.

Three different voices, including the artist’s, sound from the sculptures. One voice responds to the opening question of "What’s wrong with art?" with the answer "Art is always right." Questions and statements are repeated in a refrain, followed by terms such as 'intertextuality,' 'meta level,' and 'disempowering,' ideas often used excessively in art historical texts. The organ pipes repeat the rhythm of the word sequences in a three-verse arrangement, voices and tones overlapping each other. By the third repetition, one can barely understand the words being spoken.

By repeating words so often that they lose their sense and meaning, Huene is not staging an assault on art critics, but making an ironic statement and critical objection. The artist emphasizes language’s power because often, the use of specialist terminology excludes all those who have no access to this type of language—a phenomenon that Huene predominantly observes in the context of art. As he declares, "The enigmatic language of the one is confronted with the doubt and rejection of the other." [1]

[1] Stephan von Huene, »Sound Sculptures: What’s Wrong With Art,« 1997, available online at

Author: Theresa Rößler

About the artist/s