Conceptualism is an art in which the idea is always more important than the form of the work: essence, features, history
Conceptualism (from the Latin conceptus – “thought, representation”) is a postmodern trend in art, which proclaims the supremacy of the idea of a work over the form of its artistic expression. Followers of conceptualism are convinced that their paintings, sculptures, installations and performances should evoke not emotions in the viewer, but a desire to intellectually rethink what they see.
Conceptualism is not a commercial art, in it objects for creativity can be any household items, natural materials and even parts of the human environment. A conceptual artist does not seek to create a finished work, but tries to convey his ideas to the viewer, to involve him in some kind of intellectual game.
Conceptualism was formed in world art on the basis of rethinking the ideas of the avant-garde movements of the first half of the twentieth century – Dadaism and minimalism. The work of Marcel Duchamp played a huge role in its origin. As early as the 1910s, the genius artist began to use ready-made things in the form of provocative works of art, invented the innovative “read-maid” technique.
In the 60s of the twentieth century, the ideas of the need to dematerialize art began to actively spread in developed Western countries. Their supporters urge artists to abandon the creation of classical works (paintings or sculptures). The only real meaning is the author’s idea, which can be conveyed to the viewer in different ways.
The name Conceptual Art was first used by the American Henry Flynt in his 1961 philosophical work of the same name. But the real founder of conceptualism is considered to be Joseph Kosuth, who developed Duchamp’s ideas and urged not to limit the creator in the means of expressing his ideas.
As a demonstration of the new art, Kossuth in 1965 offered the public his famous installation One and Three Chairs. The work was a combination of three items: an ordinary wooden chair, its photo and description from an encyclopedic article.
The philosophy of conceptualism, devoid of commercial implications, quickly found a response in the intellectual environment. Innovative ideas quickly gained popularity not only in the United States, but also in Western Europe. In January 1970, the first specialized exhibition of conceptual works was held in New York.
In the following decade, conceptualism reached its peak in popularity in world culture. But in the future, interest in this direction did not completely disappear. In the 21st century, concept art is still in demand by the public.
The main features of conceptualism
Conceptual works of art have distinctive distinctive features. Such works can be identified by the following features: the impact not on the emotional, but on the intellectual perception of the viewer; frequent use of explanatory text to the work; the artist’s conscious refusal of the significance of the form in favor of the importance of the meaning (idea) of the work; creating art objects from any objects available to the author.
According to the conceptualists, the artist has the right to decide for himself what is really a work of art for him and not pay attention to the opinions of other people.
Notable Conceptual Artists
The names of famous conceptual artists are well known to connoisseurs of contemporary art. A separate mention in our article deserves:
- Joseph Kosuth is the founder of modern conceptual art, the author of famous installations. Long-term editor of the magazine “Art-Language”, a recognized theorist of conceptualism.
- Sol LeWitt is a creator of artwork based on simple geometric shapes in monochrome techniques. The author of the fundamental work – the conceptualist manifesto called Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.
- Bruce Nauman is a versatile American artist widely known for his neon signs to demonstrate wordplay. Author of sculptures, installations, media works and spectacular performances.
- Yves Klein is one of the most original French painters and sculptors of the mid-20th century, earning fame for his patented shade of blue.