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Updated: Jan 8, 2020

Conceptualism is intermediate between minimalism and realism, the conceptualist view approaches the metaphysical concept of universals from a perspective that denies their presence in particulars outside the mind's perception of them. Conceptual art, sometimes simply called conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns. Some works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions. This method was fundamental to American artist Sol LeWitt's definition of Conceptual art, one of the first to appear in print:

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. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

Tony Godfrey, author of Conceptual Art (Art & Ideas) (1998), asserts that conceptual art questions the nature of art, a notion that Joseph Kosuth elevated to a definition of art itself in his seminal, early manifesto of conceptual art, "Art after Philosophy" (1969).

Through its association with the Young British Artists and the Turner Prize during the 1990s, in popular usage, particularly in the UK, "conceptual art" came to denote all contemporary art that does not practice the traditional skills of painting and sculpture. It could be said that one of the reasons why the term "conceptual art" has come to be associated with various contemporary practices far removed from its original aims and forms lies in the problem of defining the term itself. important not to confuse what is referred to as "conceptual" with an artist's "intention."

A modern form of contemporary art which gives priority to an idea presented by visual means that are themselves secondary to the idea. Conceptual art, while having no intrinsic financial value, can deliver a powerful message, and thus has served as a vehicle for socio-political comment, as well as a broad challenge to the tradition of a 'work of art' being a crafted unique object. Indeed, some conceptual artists consider that art is created by the viewer, not by the artist or the artwork itself.


The ideas behind this form of visual art were explored by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the so-called father of Conceptual Art, although the term was first used by Edward Kienholz (1927-94), in the late 1950s. Duchamp, who became the darling of the radical Dada movement (founded by Tristan Tzara), created numerous challenging works such as his "readymades" series of found objects, of which the most celebrated was Fountain (1917), a standard urinal basin, which Duchamp submitted for inclusion in the annual, exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York. (It was rejected.). Surrealism was another source of early conceptualism. Later proto-type conceptual works included '4-33' - the controversial musical composition by John Cage (1912–1992), the three movements of which contain not a single sound or note of music.

That said, conceptual art was in part a reaction against the tenets of "formalism" as expressed by the trenchant New York art critic Clement Greenberg (1909-94). Formalism considers that the formal qualities of a work - such as line, shape and colour - are self-sufficient for its appreciation, and all other considerations - such as representational, ethical or social aspects - are secondary or redundant.

Conceptual Art is all about "ideas and meanings" rather than "works of art" (paintings, sculptures, other precious objects). It is characterized by its use of text, as well as imagery, along with a variety of ephemeral, typically everyday materials and "found objects". It also typically incorporates photography and video, as well as other contemporary media such as computers, performance art, projections, installation art and sound. One might say it was an artistic revolt against the increasing commodification of art, and/or the creative limitations imposed by modern art taught in traditionalist venues.

Conceptual art emerged as an international art form during a period of social and cultural upheaval in the 1960s and 1970s, which coincided with the era of Pop-Art and the Italian movement Arte Povera. 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.

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.

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. 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. Most saw their works in direct defiance of the art market, with its promotion of artistic personalities and rare and original "masterpieces."

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.

Conceptualism focuses on the idea that the work is the documentation of the idea becomes an expression can be used in any medium. Idea the argument of is this art is the art without language there is no art I leave to the receiver of the piece to decide to implement idea once you know about a work of mine you own it there’s no way I can climb into somebody’s head and remove it. Conceptualism would send instructions to a gallery to follow instructions did the other work is a piece not the piece itself. Documentation becomes minimalist for a conceptual list artist. Any documentation of their Dane, what they eat, what they did, what they late, this causes discussion how is this idea more expensive than this other idea breaks art. The idea or the concept is most important conceptualism uses idea to portray the problem or issue the art the idea or information is start. The construction can be an art piece asking the viewer why sometimes rearranging galleries or museums as a comment to why is one worth more than the other.

The 70s through the 80s New Wave from minimalism but tries to push it forward and it turns it towards awareness of conscience. In the sixties we developed the first computer language. Technology was excelling at a fast pace. There was very many political movements at this time. There were movements from the Cold War, Martin Luther King jr. Became an activist, JFK assassinated and women and gays were fighting for rights.

The 70s through the 80s New Wave from minimalism but tries to push it forward and it turns it towards awareness of conscience. In the sixties we developed the first computer language. Technology was excelling at a fast pace. There was very many political movements at this time. There we re movements from the Cold War, Martin Luther King jr. Became an activist, JFK assassinated and women and gays were fighting for rights.

As an artist it's important to understand conceptualism. All art is made with a concept in mind. Even Data art's concept is to not have a concept. That is a concept. As a fine artist you express yourself or your point of view on a subject. As a graphic designer you are expressing someone else's idea through a concept. Conceptualism is important for others to be able to understand art.

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