What is Conceptual Art?

What is conceptual art? After observing a number of an art object, the most challenging part in understanding about art is ‘how’ we perceive it and what is its ‘value’ to us.  As for the ordinary man, art is ‘nothing’ because ‘they’ perceive it at their own level of knowledge and understanding. Nothing wrong with that, it is just a matter of how they appreciate and value it. Conventionally, a typical art object is seen as any marks or images that are created by a human (artist) on the surface. If we go beyond this, the audience might see it as a documentation of an event just like the advert on the street or sculpture in the museum. So what is the value of art in the ordinary man’s eyes? If I put a jar full of water on the pedestal, can I call it an ‘art’? Yes, sure I can, if I write a simple manifesto, conceptualizing ideas of ‘time and space’ that is related to the jar and water. Just imagine what will happen to the water in the jar? Perhaps this is very close to ‘conceptual art’.

LeWitt (1967 cited in tate.org) stated that In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most critical 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

Conceptual art is a movement active in the 1960s and 1970s. Marcel Duchamp is often seen as an essential forefather of conceptual art, and his readymade Fountain of 1917 cited as the first conceptual artwork (tate.org, n.d.)

Replica of the 1914 Marcel Duchamp sculpture Bottle Rack, on display at the Art Institute of Chicago
Toohool [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Dealing with conceptual art, the most crucial element we need to be inside our mind is a logic that may be used to camouflage the real intent of the artist, to lull the viewer into the belief that he understands the work, or to infer a paradoxical situation (such as logic vs. illogic) (LeWitt, 1967)

By looking at the artwork, it will trigger curiosity in our mind, hence will enable us to become an analytic and critical person. The art form begins with an idea. The final artwork is actually the outcome of the conceptualization and realization from an artist on some issues. To perceive an artwork you need to understand the ‘artist’s intention’.






LeWitt, S. (n.d.) Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Retrieved from http://emerald.tufts.edu/programs/mma/fah188/sol_lewitt/paragraphs%20on%20conceptual%20art.htm

LeWitt, ‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art’, Artforum Vol.5, no. 10, Summer 1967, pp. 79-83

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