This essay is the result of a reflection putting in perspective the “archeology of the work of art” in Giorgio Agamben. The central theme is the relationship between work, art and historicity starting from the paradigm of the “death of art”. That represents the culminating moment of the metaphysical destiny of art, and therefore also the reference point of a historical archeology which is able to clarify reasons that led to a dissolution of the concrete dimension of the work in contemporary art. On this horizon, the role assumed by the notion of “inoperosity” is specified. It will be shown how, far from celebrating the absence of the work, inoperosity has the task of deactivating the traditional forms of the relationship between work and art. Thus an hypothesis makes its way: that the work of art is nothing less than the manifestation of a power capable of retaining potency in the act of expressing itself. In other words, the work of art is an exemplary case of the self-contemplative state in which the power of human action finds expression.