Commentary on Conceptual Art: Chapter 5

“The language of politics had become indistinguishable from that of advertising.”

“Conceptual art can be seen as a reaction against the misuse of language and also as a critique of consumer society.”


Conceptual art working in seven areas:

1. serial art (process to the forefront)

2. anti-form sculptures

3. language-based

4. theoretical work

5. monochrome paintings

6. interventions

7. poetic approach to the readymade

“…with serial imagery, the masterpiece concept is abandoned” – critic John Coplans

Working myself with materiality and process, I agree with this statement of the irrelevance of the idea of a masterpiece. Because realistically, masterpiece is merely an idea; to call a work a masterpiece is not only based on a subjective decision, but dilutes an entire life worth of work into a single image. The concept in itself doesn’t seem to even relate to art-making, particularly to a life of art-making, which involves transformation and exploration on an on-going process. It’s not a means to an end.


Sol Lewitt concepts or instructions – “…we can see his work as using music, rather than language, as its paradigm.”

This is interesting, particularly looking at Lewitt’s comments about how ideas are “discovered by intuition.”


Critic Bernice Rose’s claim that at the heart of Conceptual art is “the ambition to return to the roots of experience, to recreate the primary experience of symbolization uncontaminated by the attitudes attached to traditional visual modes, whether representational or abstract…”’


Carl Andre was interested “not in abstract ideas, but in consciousness, an experience of being in the world.”

This involves some sort of manifestation in the physical realm; so it has to take some form whether it be visual, auditory, language, etc. The idea is not complete until it presents itself into existence; until it becomes somehow tangible.


“…another major reason for the tendency to dematerialize was disgust at the art market.”


Lawrence Weiner – “art was not the making of objects as an end in itself, but was about ‘the relationship of human beings to objects and objects to objects in relation to human beings.’”

Going back to that thought about art-making as an activity and practice, of developing ideas and modes of working and creating and constant questioning.

All content sighted is derived from Conceptual Art by Tony Godfrey

By klcloonan

Los Angeles Interdisciplinary Artist

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