Center of discussion in this paper is conceptual art as a major art style following the decline of Modernism in the 1960s. Conceptual art is an exciting echelon that has produced artists that have amplified the very essence of what art is conceived to be. Its intention is to create art that will philosophically question and generate discussions based on ideas. The piece itself opens up debate, controversy and analysis. Unlike visual art, this type of art ‘idea’ may only survive afterwards through text, photography or sketches. It’s revolutionary, exciting, challenging, confusing and not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, all contrary notions to the way art has classically been judged. Its presentation is at times impersonal, modular and sometimes serial. Nothing within conceptual art is exempt from political, social, or economic critiques. It uses and challenges the shape and complacency of the art world. Still, conceptual art is still evolving it’s a term and art form that has many definitions, expanding the reference of art. This essay takes a broad account of the nature of conceptual art, arguing that conceptual artists challenge existing conventions of art production and display. To the uninitiated, conceptual art may not seem to be art at all, just a group of objects. Consider Marcel Broodthaers sculptural work that consists of poetry books cast in plaster. This work is an idea that depends upon an arrangement or combination of events set in progress by the artist and is allowed to find it’s own resolution.
an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made before hand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art4 In examining the nature of conceptual art, it’s necessary to situate it within its historical context. In the 1950s, conceptual art emerged, inspired by artists from earlier periods such as Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). Duchamp was linked with Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism but he avoided making affiliations and chose art by using humour and his individual attitude to push his artistic boundaries. The legacy that Duchamp gifted us was to expand our minds to allow art to be about ideas. Duchamp raised questions about the beauty of art, the skill of the artist and even the need for the artist to make the work themselves. He questioned art’s purpose in today’s world. Duchamp moved to New York in 1915 and for eight years (1915-1923) he spent time working on 23 pieces which he called “Ready-mades”.5 They were ordinary items that became art by taking them from their normal environment, arranged in such a manner that the object changed it’s perspective and titled; it was an instrument in trying to change the mindset. The combination of objects and the juxtaposition of them against one another was a kind of rebellion to push existing art barriers and to stand out of step with convention. Marcel Duchamps took a mass produced postcard of Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa and drew on it in pencil a graffiti type moustache and beard and re-title it L.H.O.O.Q. The crudeness was meant to shock, the French sentence,6 ‘Elle a chaud au cul’, which loosely translated to English means “She has a hot arse”. 7As with many of his ready-mades Duchamp did twelve other versions in