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AP1: Conceptual Art

Upon reflecting on my work I have found my work to be very conceptual. It is engaged with drawing parallels between object and meaning, and that meaning is shaped by the viewer through devices such as language, titles, the material use and the way the work has been staged.

To understand my works connection to the historical art world and contemporary art now I have researched into conceptualism and artist associated with the movement.

Conceptual art is art for which the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the finished art object. It emerged as an art movement in the 1960s and the term usually refers to art made from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s (Tate, 2022).

It is very insightful to understand how artists can produce work from a very concept driven background - however, this does reduce a certain amount of play within the artwork - it removes the process of testing and experimentation between the idea and resolution of work - the idea has to be completely resolved before the artwork is made.

Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs

Art & Language - Coventry based group - pioneers of conceptual art. Basis of research and ideas = the relationship between art making/art objects and language - the formation of ideas and information. Artworks challenged viewers perceptions of art - its function and its commerciality. One and Three Chairs - key example of work. Presents an object in three states: the original, a photographic documentation and a text based definition of the object. Shows the relationship between different states of being, different processes, different forms of art, from sculpture, to photography to text.

Conceptual art:

Conceptual art is defined as 'one that is not engaged in forms or materials but ideas and meanings on the way in which it questions what art is [which] challenges the traditional status of the art object as unique collectible or saleable (Marzona and Grosenick, 2006, p. 4).

As Conceptual artwork does not have traditional form it requires more of a response from the viewer. Marzona and Grosenick (2006, p. 4) state that 'it could be argued that the conceptual work of art only truly exists in the viewers mental participation'. This forms an interesting dialogue between the viewer and the piece of work - however it could be quite alienating for other viewers who could possibly have a lack of understanding with the work - it could be seen that conceptual art functions within a very academic field - not something easily experienced or accessed by an everyday art viewer.

It is described that conceptual art can comprise of different forms including everyday objects photographs videos and language itself. Within my own work I am very interested in exploring everyday objects and their relationship with language, it could be beneficial to begin considering my own work in relation to historic and contemporary conceptual art.

Conceptual art emerged as a term around 1967 however the earliest example the form of conceptual art is Marcel Duchamp's fountain, this piece takes the found object of a urinal and places it upside down literally flipping the meaning on its head. The piece also functioned as a form of institutional critique attempting to push the boundaries and also being playful in what could be considered a piece of art. Conceptual art can be seen as questioning the value of art and in doing so our culture and society.

Forms of conceptual art can be split into different categories.

1. the readymade, a term invented by Marcel Duchamp, describes The process of taking an object from the outside world and proposing it as art which denies do uniqueness off the art subjects and also questions the important of the artists hand.

2. an intervention, which involves an image text or object which is placed in an unexpected context which draws attention to that contact

3. documentation where the actual work is solely presented and evidenced by notes, charts or photographs

4. words, where the concepts is presented in the form of language

Conceptual art - raises question what is art? attempting to propose options for what art could be. Described that conceptual art is reflexive and that process of the object referring back to the subject is what allows the work to represent a state of continual self critique. P.12

Sol LeWitt - Paragraphs on conceptual art

LeWitt (1967, p. 1) described that “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 planning and decisions are made before hand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” It is an interesting proposition to relate artmaking with the machine process is this become something very mechanical methodical rather than a more organic process. I definitely feel like my own work connects to this idea of the machinelike process, as my work can be very methodical and iterative, I enjoy working in series and creating multiples.


Artforum, 1967. Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. [online] 42(2), p.1. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 October 2021].

Corris, M., 2004. Conceptual art. 1st ed. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Marzona, D. and Grosenick, U., 2006. Conceptual art. 1st ed. Köln: Taschen.


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