An introduction to Conceptual Art

Today I have begun a new project after choosing to specialise into the area of Fine Art. For the next two weeks I will be investigating Conceptual art and using my research and ideas gathered along the way to create Conceptual art of my own.

I have borrowed some books from the library to improve my knowledge of Conceptual art. These books include:
‘Conceptual Art’, Ursula Meyer
‘Conceptual Art in Britain’, Edited by Andrew Wilson
‘The Impossible Document’, Edited by John Roberts

Here are some initial notes which I have made from ‘Conceptual Art’ by Ursula Meyer:
TERRY ATKINSON – introduction
The visual form is governed by the form of the conventional signs of written language – the content of the artist’s idea is expressed through the semantic qualities of the written language. Conceptual art can include both art criticism and art theory. The intention of the conceptual artist is what determines if an artwork can be classified as ‘conceptual art’ or not. The making of art and making of a certain kind of art theory are often the same procedure.

Conceptual Art, Research
Initially, artists created work and critics evaluated it. Conceptual art challenges this traditional idea of art, combining both the creation and evaluation. Conceptual artists take over the role of the critic, proposing their own ideas and concepts.

‘Because of the implied duality of perception and conception in earlier art, a middleman (critic) appeared useful. This [conceptual] art both annexes the functions of the critic and makes the middleman unnecessary.’ – Joseph Kosuth

Often artists define the intentions of their work as part of their art. There is no further need for critical interpretation of idea and intention already clearly stated.

Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ can be seen as a notable turning point in art, not conforming with traditional aesthetics. Duchamp considered his ready-mades as a satirical gesture toward the elitist establishment, being surprised when people came to admire it and comment on its aesthetics. Duchamp has commented that ‘the choice of these Ready-mades was never dictated by any aesthetic delectation.’

Art as idea
Art as knowledge
– two different routes of conceptual art.

Some artists use meaningless everyday occurrences as basis for their conceptions, e.g. On Kawara’s work = continuous documentation of everyday life – I Got Up, printed on postcards, informing us of the time he got up each day.

On Kawara – ‘I Got Up’

Conceptual art, film, less interested in film as film – less focus on editing, more raw. The artist can be seen to replace the traditional object of art – artist and art-object merge.


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