Notable examples of Conceptual Art

Notable examples of Conceptual Art 

Robert RauschenbergPortrait of Iris Clert1961

Jacek Tylicki, Stone sculpture, “Give If You Can – Take If You Have To”. Palolem Island, India, 2008

Maurizio BologniniProgrammed Machines, Nice, France, 1992-97: hundreds of computers are programmed to generate an inexhaustible flux of random images which nobody would see

 Barbara Kruger installation detail at Melbourne

Notable examples

  • 1953 : Robert Rauschenberg creates Erased De Kooning Drawing, a drawing by Willem de Kooning which Rauschenberg erased. It raised many questions about the fundamental nature of art, challenging the viewer to consider whether erasing another artist’s work could be a creative act, as well as whether the work was only “art” because the famous Rauschenberg had done it.
  • 1956 : Isidore Isou introduces the concept of infinitesimal art in Introduction à une esthétique imaginaire(Introduction to Imaginary Aesthetics).
  • 1957: Yves KleinAerostatic Sculpture (Paris). This was composed of 1001 blue balloons released into the sky from Galerie Iris Clert to promote his Proposition Monochrome; Blue Epoch exhibition. Klein also exhibited ‘One Minute Fire Painting’ which was a blue panel into which 16 firecrackers were set. For his next major exhibition, The Void in 1958, Klein declared that his paintings were now invisible and to prove it he exhibited an empty room.
  • 1960: Yves Klein‘s action called A Leap Into The Void, in which he attempts to fly by leaping out of a window. He stated: “The painter has only to create one masterpiece, himself, constantly.”
  • 1960: The artist Stanley Brouwn declares that all the shoe shops in Amsterdam constitute an exhibition of his work.
  • 1961: Wolf Vostell Cityrama, in Cologne was the first Happening in Germany.
  • 1961: Piero Manzoni exhibited Artist’s Shit, tins purportedly containing his own feces (although since the work would be destroyed if opened, no one has been able to say for sure). He put the tins on sale for their own weight in gold. He also sold his own breath (enclosed in balloons) as Bodies of Air, and signed people’s bodies, thus declaring them to be living works of art either for all time or for specified periods. (This depended on how much they are prepared to pay). Marcel Broodthaers and Primo Levi are amongst the designated ‘artworks’.
  • 1962: Artist Barrie Bates rebrands himself as Billy Apple, erasing his original identity to continue his exploration of everyday life and commerce as art. By this stage, many of his works are fabricated by third parties.[28]
  • 1962: Christo‘s Iron Curtain work. This consists of a barricade of oil barrels in a narrow Paris street which caused a large traffic jam. The artwork was not the barricade itself but the resulting traffic jam.
  • 1962: Yves Klein presents Immaterial Pictorial Sensitivity in various ceremonies on the banks of the Seine. He offers to sell his own ‘pictorial sensitivity’ (whatever that was, he did not define it) in exchange for gold leaf. In these ceremonies the purchaser gave Klein the gold leaf in return for a certificate. Since Klein’s sensitivity was immaterial, the purchaser was then required to burn the certificate whilst Klein threw half the gold leaf into the Seine. (There were seven purchasers.)
  • 1962: Piero Manzoni created The Base of the World, thereby exhibiting the entire planet as his artwork.
  • 1963: Henry Flynts article Concept Art is published in “An Anthology of Chance Operations“; a collection of artworks and concepts by artists and musicians that was published by Jackson Mac Low and La Monte Young(ed.). “An Anthology of Chance Operations” documented the development of Dick Higgins vision of intermedia art in the context of the ideas of John Cage and became an early Fluxus masterpiece. Flynt’s “concept art” devolved from his idea of “cognitive nihilism” and from his insights about the vulnerabilities of logic and mathematics.
  • 1965: A complex conceptual art piece by John Latham called Still and Chew. He invites art students to protest against the values of Clement Greenberg‘s Art and Culture, much praised and taught at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, where Latham taught part-time. Pages of Greenberg’s book (borrowed from the college library) are chewed by the students, dissolved in acid and the resulting solution returned to the library bottled and labelled. Latham was then fired from his part-time position.
  • 1965: with Show V, immaterial sculpture the Dutch artist Marinus Boezem introduced Conceptual Art in the Netherlands. In the show various air doors are placed where people can walk through them. People have the sensory experience of warmth, air.Three invisible air doors, which arise as currents of cold and warm are blown into the room, are indicated in the space with bundles of arrows and lines. The articulation of the space which arises is the result of invisible processes which influence the conduct of persons in that space, and who are included in the system as co-performers.
  • Joseph Kosuth dates the concept of One and Three Chairs in the year 1965. The presentation of the work consists of a chair, its photo and a blow up of a definition of the word “chair”. Kosuth has chosen the definition from a dictionary. Four versions with different definitions are known.
  • 1966: N.E. Thing Co. Ltd. (Iain and Ingrid Baxter of Vancouver) exhibited Bagged Place the contents of a four room apartment wrapped in plastic bags. The same year they registered as a corporation and subsequently organized their practice along corporate models, one of the first international examples of the “aesthetic of administration.”
  • 1967: Sol LeWitt´s Paragraphs on Conceptual Art were published by the American art journal Artforum. The Paragraphs mark the progression from Minimal to Conceptual Art.
  • 1968: Lawrence Weiner relenquishes the physical making of his work and formulates his “Declaration of Intent,” one of the most important conceptual art statements following LeWitt’s “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.” The declaration, which underscores his subsequent practice reads: “1. The artist may construct the piece. 2. The piece may be fabricated. 3. The piece need not be built. Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.”
  • Friedrich Heubach launches the magazine Interfunktionen in Cologne, Germany, a publication that excelled in artists’ projects. It originally showed a Fluxus influence, but later moved toward Conceptual art.
  • 1969: Robert Barry‘s Telepathic Piece at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, of which he said ‘During the exhibition I will try to communicate telepathically a work of art, the nature of which is a series of thoughts that are not applicable to language or image’.
  • The first issue of “Art-Language” is published in May. It is subtitled as “The Journal of conceptual art” and edited by Terry Atkinson, David Bainbridge, Michael Baldwin and Harold Hurrell. The editors are English members of the artists group Art & Language.
  • 1969: Vito Acconci creates “Following Piece,” in which he follows randomly selected members of the public until they disappear into a private space. The piece is presented as photographs.
  • The English journal “Studio International” published Joseph Kosuth´s article “Art after Philosophy” in three parts (October–December). It became the most discussed article on “Conceptual Art”.
  • 1970: Painter John Baldessari exhibits a film in which he sets a series of erudite statements by Sol LeWitt on the subject of conceptual art to popular tunes like ‘Camptown Races’ and ‘Some Enchanted Evening’.
  • 1970: Douglas Huebler exhibits a series of photographs which were taken every two minutes whilst driving along a road for 24 minutes.
  • 1970: Douglas Huebler asks museum visitors to write down ‘one authentic secret’. The resulting 1800 documents are compiled into a book which, by some accounts, makes for very repetitive reading as most secrets are similar.
  • 1971: Hans Haacke‘s ‘Real Time Social System’. This piece of systems art detailed the real estate holdings of the third largest landowners in New York City. The properties were mostly in Harlem and the Lower East Side, were decrepit and poorly maintained, and represented the largest concentration of real estate in those areas under the control of a single group. The captions gave various financial details about the buildings, including recent sales between companies owned or controlled by the same family. The Guggenheim museum cancelled the exhibition, stating that the overt political implications of the work constituted “an alien substance that had entered the art museum organism”. There is no evidence to suggest that the trustees of the Guggenheim were linked financially to the family which was the subject of the work.
  • 1972: Fred Forest buys an area of blank space in the newspaper Le Monde and invites readers to fill it with their own works of art.
  • General Idea launch File magazine in Toronto. The magazine functioned as something of an extended, collaborative artwork.
  • 1973: Jacek Tylicki lays out blank canvases or paper sheets in the natural environment for the nature to create art.
  • 1975-76: Three issues of the journal “The Fox” were published in New York. The editor was Joseph Kosuth. “The Fox” became an important platform for the American members of Art & Language. Karl Beveridge, Ian Burn, Sarah CharlesworthMichael CorrisJoseph Kosuth, Andrew Menard, Mel Ramsden and Terry Smith wrote articles which thematized the context of contemporary art. These articles exemplify the development of an institutional critique within the inner circle of Conceptual Art. The criticism of the art world integrates social, political and economic reasons.
  • 1977: Walter De Maria‘s ‘Vertical Earth Kilometer’ in Kassel, Germany. This was a one kilometer brass rod which was sunk into the earth so that nothing remained visible except a few centimeters. Despite its size, therefore, this work exists mostly in the viewer’s mind.
  • 1977: John Fekner creates hundreds of environmental and conceptual outdoor works consisting of stenciled words, symbols, dates and icons spray painted in New York, Sweden, Canada, England and Germany.
  • 1989: Christopher Williams‘ Angola to Vietnam is first exhibited. The work consists of a series of black-and-white photographs of glass botanical specimens from the Botanical Museum at Harvard University, chosen according to a list of the thirty-six countries in which political disappearances were known to have taken place during the year 1985.
  • 1990: Ashley Bickerton and Ronald Jones included in “Mind Over Matter: Concept and Object” exhibition of ”third generation Conceptual artists” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.[30]
  • 1991: Charles Saatchi funds Damien Hirst and the next year in the Saatchi Gallery exhibits his The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark in formaldehyde in a vitrine.
  • 1992: Maurizio Bolognini starts to “seal” his Programmed Machines: hundreds of computers are programmed and left to run ad infinitum to generate inexhaustible flows of random images which nobody would see.[32]
  • 1993: Matthieu Laurette established his artistic birth certificate by taking part in a French TV game called ‘Tournez manège’ (The Dating Game) where the female presenter asked him who he was, to which he replied: ‘A multimedia artist’. Laurette had sent out invitations to an art audience to view the show on TV from their home, turning his staging of the artist into a performed reality.
  • 1993: Vanessa Beecroft holds her first performance in Milan, Italy, using models to act as a second audience to the display of her diary of food.
  • 1999: Tracey Emin is nominated for the Turner Prize. Part of her exhibit is My Bed, her dishevelled bed, surrounded by detritus such as condoms, blood-stained knickers, bottles and her bedroom slippers.
  • 2001: Martin Creed wins the Turner Prize for The Lights Going On and Off, an empty room in which the lights go on and off.[33]
  • 2004: Andrea Fraser‘s video Untitled, a document of her sexual encounter in a hotel room with a collector (the collector having agreed to help finance the technical costs for enacting and filming the encounter) is exhibited at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery. It is accompanied by her 1993 work Don’t Postpone Joy, or Collecting Can Be Fun, a 27-page transcript of an interview with a collector in which the majority of the text has been deleted.
  • 2005: Simon Starling wins the Turner Prize for Shedboatshed, a wooden shed which he had turned into a boat, floated down the Rhine and turned back into a shed again.[34]

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