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Movements Conceptual Art

Conceptual Art

Started: Mid 1950s

Quotes

"People, buying my stuff, can take it wherever they go and can rebuild it if they choose. If they keep it in their heads, that's fine too. They don't have to buy it to have it - they can just have it by knowing it."
Lawrence Weiner
"In order to gain some insight into the forces that elevate certain products to the level of 'works of art' it is helpful - among other investigations - to look into the economic and political underpinnings of the institutions, individuals and groups who share in the control of power."
Hans Haacke
"When objects are presented within the context of art (and until recently objects always have been used) they are as eligible for aesthetic consideration as are any objects in the world, and an aesthetic consideration of an object existing in the realm of art means that the object's existence or functioning in an art context is irrelevant to the aesthetic judgment."
Joseph Kosuth

KEY ARTISTS

Joseph Beuys Joseph Beuys
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Joseph Beuys Page
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Sol LeWitt Sol LeWitt
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Sol LeWitt Page
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Robert Rauschenberg Robert Rauschenberg
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Robert Rauschenberg Page
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Robert Smithson Robert Smithson
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Robert Smithson Page
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Walter de Maria Walter de Maria
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Damien Hirst Damien Hirst
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Jenny Holzer Jenny Holzer
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Joseph Kosuth Joseph Kosuth
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Joseph Kosuth Page
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Lawrence Weiner Lawrence Weiner
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"Ideas alone can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical."

Synopsis

Conceptual art is a movement that prizes ideas over the formal or visual components of art works. An amalgam of various tendencies rather than a tightly cohesive movement, Conceptualism took myriad forms, such as performances, happenings, and ephemera. From the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s Conceptual artists produced works and writings that completely rejected standard ideas of art. Their chief claim - that the articulation of an artistic idea suffices as a work of art - implied that concerns such as aesthetics, expression, skill and marketability were all irrelevant standards by which art was usually judged. So drastically simplified, it might seem to many people that what passes for Conceptual art is not in fact "art" at all, much as Jackson Pollock's "drip" paintings, or Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes (1964), seemed to contradict what previously had passed for art. But it is important to understand Conceptual art in a succession of avant-garde movements (Cubism, Dada, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, etc.) that succeeded in self-consciously expanding the boundaries of art. Conceptualists put themselves at the extreme end of this avant-garde tradition. In truth, it is irrelevant whether this extremely intellectual kind of art matches one's personal views of what art should be, because the fact remains that Conceptual artists successfully redefine the concept of a work of art to the extent that their efforts are widely accepted as art by collectors, gallerists, and museum curators.

Key Ideas

Conceptual artists link their work to a tradition of Marcel Duchamp, whose Readymades had rattled the very definition of the work of art. Like Duchamp before them, they abandoned beauty, rarity, and skill as measures of art.
Conceptual artists recognize that all art is essentially conceptual. In order to emphasize this, many Conceptual artists reduced the material presence of the work to an absolute minimum - a tendency that some have referred to as the "dematerialization" of art.
Conceptual artists were influenced by the brutal simplicity of Minimalism, but they rejected Minimalism's embrace of the conventions of sculpture and painting as mainstays of artistic production. For Conceptual artists, art need not look like a traditional work of art, or even take any physical form at all.
The analysis of art that was pursued by many Conceptual artists encouraged them to believe that if the artist began the artwork, the museum or gallery and the audience in some way completed it. This category of Conceptual art is known as 'institutional critique,' which can be understood as part of an even greater shift away from emphasizing the object-based work of art to pointedly expressing cultural values of society at large.
Much Conceptual art is self-conscious or self-referential. Like Duchamp and other modernists, they created art that is about art, and pushed its limits by using minimal materials and even text.

Most Important Art

One and Three Chairs (1965)
Artist: Joseph Kosuth
A physical chair sits between a scale photograph of a chair and a printed definition of the word "chair." Emblematic of Conceptual art, One and Three Chairs makes people question what constitutes the "chair" - the physical object, the idea, the photograph, or a combination of all three. Joseph Kosuth once wrote, "The art I call conceptual is such because it is based on an inquiry into the nature of art. Thus, it is...a thinking out of all the implications, of all aspects of the concept 'art.'" One and Three Chairs denies the hierarchical distinction between an object and a representation, just as it implies a conceptual work of art can be object or representation in its various forms. This work harks back to and also extends the kind of inquiry into the presumed priority of object over representation that had been earlier proposed by the Surrealist Rene Magritte in his Treachery of Images (1928-9), with its image of a pipe over the inscription "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" (This is not a pipe).
Wood folding chair, mounted photograph of a chair, and photographic enlargement of a dictionary definition of "chair" - The Museum of Modern Art, New York
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Beginnings

One of the most important precedents for Conceptual art was the work of Dada artist Marcel Duchamp, who in the early twentieth century established the idea of the "Readymade" - the found object that is simply nominated or chosen by the artist to be a work of art, without adaptations to the object beyond a signature. The first and most famous true Readymade was Fountain (1917), which was nothing more than a porcelain urinal, reoriented ninety degrees, placed on a stand and signed and dated under the alias "R. Mutt." Duchamp described his Readymades as "anti-retinal," and dismissed the popular conception that works of art need demonstrate artistic skill. In the 1950s, long after several of his original Readymades had been lost, Duchamp re-issued Fountain and other Readymades for the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. These acts sparked a resurgence of interest in his work, which not only brought the emergence of Neo-Dada led by John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, but also rekindled a widespread interest in idea-based art throughout the contemporary art world.

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Fluxus and Minimalism to Conceptualism

While the late 1950s witnessed modern art's progressive shift from Abstract Expressionism to Neo-Dada and Pop, the late 1960s witnessed a similar shift, only this time from Fluxus and Minimalism to Conceptualism. Fluxus began in the early sixties, and has many affinities with Dada. Embracing "flux", or change, as an essential element of life, Fluxus artists aimed to integrate art and life, using any found objects and sounds, simple activities and situations as stimuli. George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow, and composer John Cage are important Fluxus figures who impacted Conceptual art.

Adding to Conceptual art's diverse genealogy, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris and other Minimalist artists who emerged in the mid-1960s extended modernist abstraction by embracing repetition, formal simplification, and industrial fabrication of their artworks. Judd and others rejected much that was traditional in creating works that occupied space differently, often on a scale too large for a pedestal or home, and usually made of nontraditional artistic materials like bricks or sheets of steel, the production of which was outsourced. A number of burgeoning artists during this time paid close attention to the paradigm shifts inherent in Fluxus and Minimalism, seeing that a so-called work of art was not dependent upon the object/work itself, and that it could therefore exist chiefly as an idea. Most saw their works in direct defiance of the art market, with its promotion of artistic personalities and rare and original "masterpieces."

LeWitt's "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art"

In 1967, Sol LeWitt published "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art" (considered by many to be the movement's manifesto), in which he wrote: "What the work of art looks like isn't too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned." The notion of placing concept before object, and the value of realization over any aesthetic concerns importantly contradicted the theories and writings of formalist art critics like Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. Their work rather focused chiefly on the examination of objects, materials, colors and forms - had helped to define the aesthetic criteria of the preceding generation of artists.

Wiener's "Declaration of Intent"

Conceptual art was taken to the extremes of art as idea by Lawrence Weiner in his 1968 "Declaration of Intent," which declared he would cease the practice of creating physical art, citing no need to build something when the idea behind any work of art should suffice, since the artist's intent remains the same (or should, ideally), regardless of whether the work is in physical form or merely conceptual.

The Formation of the Movement

While conceptualist artists forever remained a disparate, international group harboring a great many ideas about contemporary art, by the late 1960s it was somewhat evident that a loose movement was coalescing. In 1968 a series of Conceptual art exhibitions vigorously promoted the movement in New York, put together by the dealer and curator Seth Siegelaub. In 1969, New York's Museum of Modern Art gathered a number of artists from the movement for an exhibition titled "Information." This event was not to be taken without a grain of salt, since Conceptualism was largely critical of the institutional museum system and its market-driven interests, the system within which they exhibited.

Artist Collectives Emerge

In 1967, a collective of British artists formed the group Art & Language while teaching art in Coventry, England. Through a series of published journals the group showed an outspoken distaste for entanglement of modern art and the marketplace. Over the next several years many would join the group, whose rotating membership would reach approximately 50 artists before its dwindling in the late 1970s.

Other artist collectives were similarly political in their focus. The Canadian group General Idea had a small membership of three artists, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, and AA Bronson, who embraced ephemeral works and installations. Active from 1967 to 1994, in the 1980s their works addressed the pharmaceutical industry and the AIDS crisis. In South America, artists found Conceptualism an effective pathway to creativity and political opposition. Conceptualism was particularly appealing there as it was not an imported style per se, but rather a means of expression with no single frame of reference, whether cultural, aesthetic, or ideological. Artist collectives provided anonymity, and thus protection from prosecution by oppressive authorities, and the opportunity to make strong social statements. The Chilean group CADA (Art Action Collective) and the Peruvian group Parenthesis exemplified this trend.

Concepts and Styles

Conceptual art was conceived as a movement that extended traditional boundaries, and hence it can be difficult to distinguish self-conscious Conceptualism from the various other developments in art of the 1960s. Conceptualism could take the form of tendencies such as happenings, performance art, installation, body art, and earth art. The principle that united these developments was the rejection of traditional ways of judging works of art, the opposition to art being a commodity, and the belief in the essentially conceptual nature of all works of art. Because it circumvented aesthetics, it is difficult to define conceptual art on stylistic grounds other than a delivery that seems objective and unemotional. While a conceptual work may possess no particular style, one could say that this everyday appearance and this diversity of expression are characteristics of the movement.

Art as Idea

Among the first to pursue the notion of idea-based art to its logical conclusion was Joseph Kosuth, who evolved a highly analytical model premised on the notion that art must continually question its own purpose. Advocating his ideas most famously in a three-part essay entitled "Art after Philosophy" (1969), Kosuth argued that it was necessary to abandon traditional media in order to pursue this self-criticism. He questioned the notion that art necessarily needed to be manifested in a visual form - indeed, whether it needed to be manifested in any physical form at all. Many, like Lawrence Weiner, similarly stated the need to relinquish the practice of creating physical works of art. By striving to minimize the materiality of art, artists strove to remove aesthetic criteria and the commodity status out of the artistic equation. The "dematerialization of art object," as the art critic Lucy Lippard described the tendency in the chronicle of Conceptualism (Six Years: the Dematerialization of the Art Object), thus had a subtle political undercurrent. Conceptual art ideas often evoked dispersal (instead of formation), and voiding (instead of creation), and many of the Conceptual artistic ideas were open-ended propositions that lacked foregone conclusions. For instance, Lawrence Weiner's "Statements" of 1968 include "A field created by structured simultaneous TNT explosions" and "One standard dye marker thrown into the sea," and epitomize the open-ended and hence anti-authoritarian stance of the movement. As Wiener explained in his "Declaration of Intent" (1968-9), "Art that imposes conditions - human or otherwise - on the receiver for its appreciation in my eyes constitutes aesthetic fascism."

Language as Art

Although the use of text in art was nothing new by the 1960s - text appears alongside other visual elements in Cubist paintings, for example - artists such as Lawrence Weiner, Joseph Kosuth, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari adopted text as the chief element of a visual work of art. Unlike their predecessors, this generation had pursued college degrees, which in part accounts for their intellectualism and the influence of recent studies in linguistics. The language used was meant to signify itself and an artistic idea. Text-based art would often use abstract formulations, often in the form of abrupt commands, ambiguous statements, or just a single word to create associations for the viewer. While first-wave conceptualists like Weiner and Baldessari remain active today, they inspired younger artists from Jenny Holzer to Tracey Emin to continue the practice of language-based art and to push the boundaries of art and its definitions.

Anti-commodification and Institutional Critique

If Conceptual art had a central tenet that united all artists under one banner, it was surely their shared discomfort with the institutionalized state of the art world, as arbiter of constituted "good" vs. "bad" art. The artistic gatekeepers had been guided largely by market concerns since the mid-ninetieth century, such that "good" art was marketable, and "bad" art was not. The beneficiaries of this system were a small group of (mostly male and white) artists, and members of an elite social class who sold and collected the work, or who participated in the administration of museums. In the 1960s, there was the sense that if art catered to this world then it will surely not strive to challenge any status quo, or be avant-garde. Conceptual artists and theorists looked closely at modern art practices and trends during the 1960s and early 1970s, seeking forms of radical theory or aesthetics, but found largely a continuation of abstract, post-abstract and minimalist motifs. "What can you expect to challenge in the real world," wrote Burn in the pages of Artforum in 1975, "with 'colour', 'edge', 'process', systems, modules, etc. as your arguments? Can you be any more than a manipulated puppet if these are your 'professional' arguments?"

The late 1960s witnessed the emergence of a form of Conceptualism that has come to be known as institutional critique, practiced by artists such as Hans Haacke, Michael Asher, Daniel Buren, and Marcel Broodthaers. Institutional critique continued the tradition of idea-based art, but usually in the form of installations that implicitly questioned the assumed function of the museum--i.e. preservation and exhibition of masterpieces - by providing a view to its greater role within society at large (eg. as arbiter of taste, as investor, as tax shelter, and gatekeeper to artistic success). The museum is not a neutral hall for the exhibition of works and education of the public. Rather, it is invested in promoting certain artists, in selecting "important" works of art, and in shaping the economic reality that benefits its trustees and the established art world. The inherent complexity of institutional critique is that it was often staged within the very institutions that artists were critiquing, as with Hans Haacke's MoMA Poll (1970). At times, the success of a particular work relied on the participation of viewers, thus demonstrating that the work, like the "art world" includes viewers as well as artists and the institutions that host them. Thus it is important to note that rather than simply negating or rejecting the institution, these artists often implicated themselves, and sought to bring awareness to complex fabric of social and institutional relations.

Challenges to Authorship

When Marcel Duchamp nominated a urinal as a work of art and reissued later editions of his Readymades, he delivered clear blows to the West's collective notion of artistic creativity. In keeping with this model, Sol LeWitt's "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art" advocated the idea that the work need not necessarily be fully 'authored' by the artist. "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." This idea of an automated or machine-like execution of the art-idea is symptomatic of Conceptualism at large. For instance, in Vito Acconci's Following Piece (1969), the artist subjected his vision to an outside force: the random movements of strangers that he followed on the street until they disappeared into private space. The parameters of the work (the goal, the documentation method) were decided in advance by Acconci, but the resulting path traversed and subjects (the exact people, number of photographs, specific locations, etc.) occured based on the decisions made by randomly selected individuals and were thus exempt from Acconci's agency.

This denial of the artist as "master" and sole creator of the work also translates to many posthumous works with which the artist's name is associated, but where he/she is not the fabricator. LeWitt in particular, who passed away in 2007, was survived by a number of unrealized sketches for sculptural and other works of art, which to this day are often created anew by teams of fabricators and assistants, thus allowing brand new LeWitt works to be made even while the artist is dead. Such fabrication in the name of the artist echoes prior modern art practices, particularly in sculpture (the estate of Auguste Rodin is a well-known example of posthumous artistic production). While authorship is, strictly speaking, a component of LeWitt's posthumously issued works, the practice flies in the face of traditional notions of craft and mastery.

Photo-conceptualism

Photo-conceptualism is a persistent trend associated with Conceptualism. Conceptual artists often relied on documentation of their ideas, and photography was a convenient means to this end. Photography could be integrated into the concept or system that the artist devised, just as a diagram or a text could illustrate it. In this sense, the documentation is the work of art, and vice versa, and because of this the usual hierarchical distinction between "work" and "document" - where the former is considered more important than the latter - is undone. In counter distinction to many photographers, Conceptualists were not concerned with photographic quality, whether determined by the print, composition, lighting, or editing. Furthermore, their dryly objective approach resulted in photographs that prevent access to the artist's personality, and which prevent a strong emotional response from the viewer. Edward Ruscha's matter-of-fact photographs of "Every Building on the Sunset Strip," which he methodically produced with a camera strapped to his pickup truck exemplify this artistically anti-expressive approach to creating photo-conceptual works.

Later Developments

Although the model of Conceptual art promoted by Joseph Kosuth and Art & Language might be seen as the epitome of the movement - others explored avenues that were arguably as influential. Conceptual art sidestepped conventions of craftsmanship and style to an extent that it could be said to place renewed emphasis on content, which had been largely banished under critical emphasis on form. Emergent during a period of major social upheaval, Conceptualism's central tenant - that the idea is paramount - found broad application by artists wishing to emphasize diverse social issues. The social issues addressed by international artists such as Hans Haacke, Martha Rosler, Jenny Holzer, Luis Caminzer, Alfredo Jaar, and Ai Weiwei, include labor and gender relations, museum stewardship, and poverty and censorship.

While the movement often emphasized the social construction of the work of art, Conceptualism was not populist and had limited popularity outside of the art world due to its arcane perception. Furthermore, fractures began to develop in the movement by the mid-1970s, leading to the dissolution of the movement. Still, it eventually became inspiration to subsequent post-Conceptual artists, many of whom embraced the material basis of art and the langue of visual culture, such as the so-called Pictures Generation led by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Others continued to sidestep traditional artistic production through Performance art or installations. Thus, many of the concerns, and something of its austere style and tactics endure to this day in the works of a wide variety of artists, including Andrea Fraser, Tino Seghal, Gabriel Orozco, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Glen Ligon, and Damien Hirst.

Original content written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

. [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org website. Available from:
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Useful Resources on Conceptual Art

Books
Videos
More
The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.
Conceptual Art A&I (Art and Ideas)

By Tony Godfrey

Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology

By Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson

Conceptual Art (Themes and Movements)

By Peter Osborne

Conceptual Art (Basic Art S.)

By Daniel Marzona

essays
Art after Philosophy (excerpt)

By Joseph Kosuth
Studio International
October, November, December 1969

Paragraphs on Conceptual Art & Sentences on Conceptual Art

By Sol LeWitt
Artforum
Summer 1967

Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock was the most well-known Abstract Expressionist and the key example of Action Painting. His work ranges from Jungian scenes of primitive rites to the purely abstract "drip paintings" of his later career.
ArtStory: Jackson Pollock
Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was an American Pop artist best known for his prints and paintings of consumer goods, celebrities, and photographed disasters. One of the most famous and influential artists of the 1960s, he pioneered compositions and techniques that emphasized repetition and the mechanization of art.
ArtStory: Andy Warhol
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907-1911, and it continued to be highly influential long after its decline. This classic phase has two stages: 'Analytic', in which forms seem to be 'analyzed' and fragmented; and 'Synthetic', in which pre-existing materials such as newspaper and wood veneer are collaged to the surface of the canvas.
ArtStory: Cubism
Dada
Dada
Dada
Dada was an artistic and literary movement that emerged in 1916. It arose in reaction to World War I, and the nationalism and rationalism that many thought had led to the War. Influenced by several avant-gardes - Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, and Expressionism - its output was wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting and collage. Emerging first in Zurich, it spread to cities including Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York and Cologne.
ArtStory: Dada
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
A tendency among New York painters of the late 1940s and '50s, all of whom were committed to an expressive art of profound emotion and universal themes. The movement embraced the gestural abstraction of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and the color field painting of Mark Rothko and others. It blended elements of Surrealism and abstract art in an effort to create a new style fitted to the postwar mood of anxiety and trauma.
ArtStory: Abstract Expressionism
Pop Art
Pop Art
Pop Art
British artists of the 1950s were the first to make popular culture the dominant subject of their art, and this idea became an international phenomenon in the 1960s. But the Pop art movement is most associated with New York, and artists such as Andy Warhol, who broke with the private concerns of the Abstract Expressionists, and turned to themes which touched on public life and mass society.
ArtStory: Pop Art
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp
The French artist Marcel Duchamp was an instrumental figure in the avant-garde art worlds of Paris and New York. Moving through Dada, Surrealism, readymades, sculpture, and installation, his work involves conceptual play and an implicit attack on bourgeois art sensibilities.
ArtStory: Marcel Duchamp
Minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism emerged as a movement in New York in the 1960s, its leading figures creating objects which blurred the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and were characterized by unitary, geometric forms and industrial materials. Emphasizing cool anonymity over the passionate expression of the previous generation of painters, the Minimalists attempted to avoid metaphorical associations, symbolism, and suggestions of spiritual transcendence.
ArtStory: Minimalism
John Cage
John Cage
John Cage
John Cage was an American composer and conceptual artist who incorporated chance, silence, and environmental effects into his performances. An important art theorist, he influenced choreographers, musicians, and the Fluxus artists of the 1970s.
ArtStory: John Cage
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg, a key figure in early Pop art, admired the textural quality of Abstract Expressionism but scorned its emotional pathos. His famous "Combines" are part sculpture, part painting, and part installation.
ArtStory: Robert Rauschenberg
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns is an American artist who rose to prominence in the late 1950s for his multi-media constructions, dubbed by critics as Neo-Dada. Johns' work, including his world-famous targets and American flags series, were important predecessors to Pop art.
ArtStory: Jasper Johns
Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus was an international network of "intermedia" artists of the 1960s who worked in fields ranging from music to performance to the visual arts. Taking their name from the Latin "to flow," Fluxus artists adopted an often anarchic and satirical approach to conventional forms of art, and their ideas paved the way for Conceptual art.
ArtStory: Fluxus
George Maciunas
George Maciunas
George Maciunas
George Maciunas was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He was a founding member of Fluxus, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers. He is most famous for organizing and performing happenings and for assembling a series of highly influential artists' multiples.
George Maciunas
Allan Kaprow
Allan Kaprow
Allan Kaprow
Allan Kaprow was an American painter, collagist, assemblagist and performance artist. Kaprow was best known for trailblazing the artistic concept "happenings," which were experiential artistic events rather than single works of art.
ArtStory: Allan Kaprow
Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Judd
Donald Judd was an early and influential Minimalist artist who made large-scale geometric objects, often of industrial materials and serially arranged on the floor or wall. He helped found the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, where many key works of Minimalism are installed.
ArtStory: Donald Judd
Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre is an American Minimalist whose prominence rose in the late 1960s with a series of large public artworks and sculpture. His linear sculpture was included in the famed 1966 Primary Structures group exhibition at the Jewish Museum.
ArtStory: Carl Andre
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
Robert Morris is an American artist whose early L-beam and column sculptures were key works in Minimalism. His work also includes felt and fabric pieces, performance, body art, and earthworks, often with an emphasis on process and theatricality.
ArtStory: Robert Morris
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg
Clement Greenberg was one the leading American art critics during the twentieth century. Best known as the ideological counterpart to Harold Rosenberg, Greenberg was a formalist who coined the terms "American-type painting" and 'Post-painterly abstraction.' He was a staunch champion of pure abstraction, including the work of Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still and Hans Hofmann.
ArtStory: Clement Greenberg
Michael Fried
Michael Fried
Michael Fried
Michael Fried is an American art critic and historian who gained acclaim for his ideas on "theatricality" in art. Fried applied this idea to the artistic style Minimalism, which he believed negatively blurred the boundaries between natural art forms and non-art objects.
ArtStory: Michael Fried
Lawrence Weiner
Lawrence Weiner
Lawrence Weiner
Lawrence Weiner is an American conceptual and mixed-media artist. Weiner began his career working with shaped canvas and traditional painting, but soon ventured into far more abstract territory. In his 1968 "Declaration of Intent," Weiner famously proclaimed that an artwork need not actually exist in physical form to be art.
Lawrence Weiner
Happenings
Happenings
Happenings
The term "happening" was coined by artist Allan Kaprow in 1957 to decribe a series of multi-media artworks on display in a single locale. In general, a happening is an art event, often staged or pre-scripted, that requires active participation from an audience to come to full fruition. This relatively new form of artistic media could be called participatory.
ArtStory: Happenings
Performance Art
Performance Art
Performance Art
Performance is a genre in which art is presented "live," usually by the artist but sometimes with collaborators or performers. It has had a role in avant-garde art throughout the twentieth century, playing an important part in anarchic movements such as Futurism and Dada. It particularly flourished in the 1960s, when Performance artists became preoccupied with the body, but it continues to be an important aspect of art practice.
ArtStory: Performance Art
Installation Art
Installation Art
Installation Art
Installation art is a genre of contemporary art-making in which two- and three-dimensional materials are used to transform a particular site. Installations may include sculptural, found, sound-based, and performance elements, and can be permanent or ephemeral.
Installation Art
Body Art
Body Art
Body Art
Body art is art form that uses the human body as its canvas. Tattoos and body piercings are the most common form of body art. Other types include branding, scarification, body shaping, full body tattoo and body painting. Body art can take a more extreme form in bodily mutilation and acts of physical endurance.
Body Art
Land Art
Land Art
Land Art
Land art, or Earth art, a term coined by artist Robert Smithson, refers to artworks from the 1960s and '70s that employed land and other natural elements. It is typical of a time when artists rejected the traditional art object, expanded definitions of sculpture, and sought to move art outside the conventional art world structure of galleries and museums.
ArtStory: Land Art
Lucy Lippard
Lucy Lippard
Lucy Lippard
Lucy Lippard is an American art scholar and curator who has focused on postmodern movements such as conceptual art, feminist theory, and land art.
Lucy Lippard
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth is an American conceptual artist, philosopher and essayist. His most celebrated work is One and Three Chairs (1965), which doubles as a piece of commentary on Plato's Theory of Forms. He is likewise well-known for his 1969 essay "Art after Philosophy," considered a key text of postmodern art writing.
ArtStory: Joseph Kosuth
Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha is a California-based painter, photographer, and printmaker, recognized as one of the leading figures of Pop art and Conceptualism on the West Coast. From his iconic images of gasoline stations to his 'word paintings,' his work is deeply influenced by the graphic arts and deals largely with themes of commercial culture, language, and the mundane.
Ed Ruscha
John Baldessari
John Baldessari
John Baldessari
John Baldessari, born in 1931, is an American conceptual artist. He often combines image and languages in his art. His early works were canvas paintings that were empty except for painted statements derived from contemporary art theory. His juxtaposition of image and text is reminiscent of Rene Magritte's surrealist paintings.
ArtStory: John Baldessari
Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer
Jenny Holzer is an American conceptual and mixed-media artist. Her work is best known for using a variety of text, found objects, propaganda imagery, sound, video and light, all of which she attempts to incorporate into public spaces, thus bringing artistic experience directly into the world.
Jenny Holzer
Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin is a British artist and a member of the famed YBA's (Young British Artists). She is best known for her provocative and sexually-charged works, often in the form of large-scale installation. Most recently she opened the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, along with Jools Holland, and she remains an active art instructor in her native England.
Tracey Emin
Hans Haacke
Hans Haacke
Hans Haacke
Hans Haacke is a German-American conceptual artist and painter based in New York City. Haacke's work, which includes forays into Land art and Installation, is often characterized by its convergence of physical and biological systems; in other words, works of art which rely on natural forces (wind, water, earth) to achieve their effect.
Hans Haacke
Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci is an American performance/installation artist who began performing in the late 1960s. More recently, he has shifted his focus to architecture and landscape design, particularly works that merge indoor and outdoor space.
Vito Acconci