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Art Movement in Focus : What is Conceptual Art

What is Conceptual Art

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history, through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at What is Conceptual Art.

Defining Conceptualism

Conceptual Art developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Hitherto, the practice of creating was all about aesthetics. The French Academy had set its own standards of what was visually appealing, and the Modernists, in protest, had set their own. However, both the Academy and the artists who protested it had one common belief. That art is a visual language and must therefore look a certain way. The Conceptualists were the first group of artists to challenge this notion. They simply disagreed with the belief that art is about aesthetics at all.

If not Aesthetics, then What?

Conceptual Art promotes the notion that art is an idea. Just an idea. Artists who aligned themselves with this theory felt no need to give any strict tangible form to their creativity. From toying with semantics to declaring pre-existing objects as art, the Conceptualists created waves with their unique style of expression

Conceptual Art arguably covers the full spectrum between the tangible and the intangible. While some conceptualists chose to render their work in physical form, the idea always took precedence. The intention was always greater than the actual creation.

As Sol LeWitt states in ‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art’, Artforum Vol.5, no. 10, Summer 1967 :

“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.”


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