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Parent categories: concept - art
Related: media art - intermedia - installation art - performance art - Dada - Surrealism - Fluxus - modern art - contemporary art
Practitioners: Dan Graham - Damien Hirst - Yoko Ono - Marcel Duchamp - Tracey Emin - Guillaume Bijl - Vito Acconci
Fountain (1917) - Marcel Duchamp
Conceptual art, sometimes called idea art, is art in which the ideas of the artist are more important than the means used to express them.
Conceptual art first came to be made in the 1960s and 1970s. It is generally seen as an expansion of minimalism. Many artists turned to conceptualism because of a belief that creating commercially marketable works was in some way unethical.
Conceptual art often makes use of materials such as photographs, maps, and videos. It is sometimes reduced to a set of instructions documenting how to make a work, but stopping short of actually making it--the idea behind the art is more important than the artefact itself. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_art [Aug 2004]
The work of the French artist Marcel Duchamp from the 1910s and 1920s paved the way for the conceptualists, providing them with examples of prototypically conceptual works (the readymades, for instance) that defied previous categorisations. The most famous example of a readymade is a standard urinal basin, which Duchamp signed "R.Mutt", titled Fountain and attempted to exhibit (it was rejected). In traditional terms this could not be said to be art because it was not made by an artist, it was not made with the intention of being art, and , being a commonplace object, it did not possess the expected visual properties of art.
Because Conceptual Art is so dependent upon the text (or discourse) surrounding it, it is strongly related to numerous other movements of the last century.
In part as a reaction against formalism as it was then articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg, conceptual art emerged as a movement during 1960s. In 1961 the term "concept art" appeared in a Fluxus publication. However it assumed a different meaning when employed by US artist Joseph Kosuth and the English Art and Language group, who discarded the conventional art object in favour an documented critical inquiry into the artist's social, philosophical and psychological status. By the mid-1970s they had produced publications, indexes, performances, texts and paintings to this end. The key point was that the art object was not the goal nor an end in itself. In 1970 Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects, the first dedicated conceptual art exhibition, was mounted at the New York Cultural Center.
Conceptual art also reacted against the commodification of art; it attempted a subversion of the gallery or museum as the location and determiner of art, and the art market as the owner and distributor of art. Laurence Weiner said : "Once you know about a work of mine you own it. There's no way I can climb inside somebody's head and remove it." Many conceptual artists' work can therefore only be known about through documentation which is manifested by it, e.g. photographs, written texts or displayed objects, which are not in themselves the art. It is sometimes (as in the work of Robert Barry, Yoko Ono, and Weiner) reduced to a set of written instructions describing a work, but stopping short of actually making it—emphasising that the idea is more important than the artifact.
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 artists like Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, and Douglas Huebler. Now these in turn have proven very influential on a following group of artists—sometimes labeled "second- or third-generation" conceptualists or "post-conceptual" artists—such as Mike Kelley, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. (However, it should be noted that Emin herself rejects conceptual art in favour of emotional expression.) Today artists like Adrian Piper, Jen Silver, damali ayo and Janine Antoni are a new wave of conceptual artists, addressing socio-cultural issues, such as stereotyping, race, gender and intimacy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_art#History [Mar 2006]
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