Conceptual art 1960 – …

Term applied to work produced from the mid-1960s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas Although Henry Flynt of the fluxus group had designated his performance pieces ‘concept art’ as early as 1961 and Edward Kienholz had begun to devise ‘concept tableaux’ in 1963, the term first achieved public prominence in defining a distinct art form in an article published by Sol LeWitt in 1967 Only loosely definable as a movement, it emerged more or less simultaneously in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia and had repercussions on more conventional spheres of artistic production spawning artists’ books as a separate category and contributing substantially to the acceptance of photographs, musical scores, architectural drawings, and performance art on an equal footing with painting and sculpture Moreover, conceptual art helped spawn the move towards multimedia installations that emerged to such prominence from the 1980s

Conceptual art, sometimes simply called conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns Some works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions This method was fundamental to American artist Sol LeWitt’s definition of Conceptual art, one of the first to appear in print: In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair The idea becomes a machine that makes the art

[pt_view id=”e3bc179rbp”]

Tony Godfrey, author of Conceptual Art (Art & Ideas) (1998), asserts that conceptual art questions the nature of art, a notion that Joseph Kosuth elevated to a definition of art itself in his seminal, early manifesto of conceptual art, “Art after Philosophy” (1969) The notion that art should examine its own nature was already a potent aspect of the influential art critic Clement Greenberg’s vision of Modern art during the 1950s With the emergence of an exclusively language-based art in the 1960s, however, conceptual artists such as Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and the English Art & Language group began a far more radical interrogation of art than was previously possible (see below) One of the first and most important things they questioned was the common assumption that the role of the artist was to create special kinds of material objects

Through its association with the Young British Artists and the Turner Prize during the 1990s, in popular usage, particularly in the UK, “conceptual art” came to denote all contemporary art that does not practice the traditional skills of painting and sculpture It could be said that one of the reasons why the term “conceptual art” has come to be associated with various contemporary practices far removed from its original aims and forms lies in the problem of defining the term itself As the artist Mel Bochner suggested as early as 1970, in explaining why he does not like the epithet “conceptual”, it is not always entirely clear what “concept” refers to, and it runs the risk of being confused with “intention” Thus, in describing or defining a work of art as conceptual it is important not to confuse what is referred to as “conceptual” with an artist’s “intention”

The first wave of the “conceptual art” movement extended from approximately 1967 to 1978 Early “concept” artists like Henry Flynt, Robert Morris, and Ray Johnson influenced the later, widely accepted movement of conceptual art Conceptual artists like Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, and Lawrence Weiner have proven very influential on subsequent artists, and well known contemporary artists such as Mike Kelley or Tracey Emin are sometimes labeled “second- or third-generation” conceptualists, or “post-conceptual” artists

Many of the concerns of the conceptual art movement have been taken up by contemporary artists While they may or may not term themselves “conceptual artists”, ideas such as anti-commodification, social and/or political critique, and ideas/information as medium continue to be aspects of contemporary art, especially among artists working with installation art, performance art, netart and electronic/digital art