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Modern Artists in Conceptual Art
Below are biographies and analysis of the work of the artists central to the Conceptual Art movement. Read more about the movement on the Conceptual Art Overview page.
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Conceptual artist and activist. His pieces explore many themes, including history, society, human rights, and the freedom of speech. Weiwei's open critique of the Chinese government has caused him many problems with Chinese authorities and challenged the establishment in an epic way.
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.
Joseph Beuys was a German multi- and mixed-media artist best known for incorporating ideas of humanism, social philosophy and politics into his art. Beuys practiced everything from installation and performance art to traditional painting and "social sculpture." He was continually motivated by the belief of universal human creativity.
Marcel Broodthaers was a Belgian poet, filmmaker and conceptual artist who was born in 1924. He worked principally with found objects and collage, which often contained text. His most noted work was an installation, Musée d'Art Moderne, Department of Eagles, which began in his Brussels home.
De Maria, Walter
Walter de Maria is an American sculptor, composer, and multi-media artist. His works have been characterized as Minimalist, Installation, Land art, Neo-Dada, and Conceptualist. De Maria's best known work is The Lightning Field (1977), consisting of 400 lightning rods situated on a field in New Mexico.
Michael Heizer is an American artist who specializes in Land art installations and environments. Heizer's most celebrated pieces rely on the alteration but ultimate preservation of the natural landscape, such as Double Negative (1969), in which Heizer cut a 1500-foot long trench into a mesa in the Nevada desert.
Sol LeWitt was an American artist commonly associated with the Minimalist and Conceptual movements. He rose to prominence in the 1960s with the likes of Rauschenberg, Johns and Stella, and his work was included in the famous 1966 exhibit Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum. LeWitt's art often employed simple geometric forms and archetypal symbols, and he worked in a variety of media but was most interested in the idea behind the artwork.
Yoko Ono is a Japanese-American artist, musician, author, and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to the lendary John Lennon. Ono was highly succcesful iin bringing feminism to the forefront of the art world through her performance and conceptual pieces.
Ad Reinhardt was an American abstract artist whose monochromatic canvases show side-by-side rectangles painted in subtle variations of the same color. Very much part of the New York scene in the 1940s, he nonetheless scorned the label and gestural ethos of Abstract Expressionism.
Ed Ruscha is 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.