Conceptual art and artistic skill

Concepts involved in the art takes precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns

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Conceptual art, sometimes simply called conceptualism, is art in which the concepts or ideas involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns.

Some works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions. In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work.

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Conceptual art and artistic skill

An important difference between conceptual art and more “traditional” forms of art-making goes to the question of artistic skill.

Although it is often the case that skill in the handling of traditional media plays little role in conceptual art, it is difficult to argue that no skill is required to make conceptual works, or that skill is always absent from them.

It is thus not so much an absence of skill or hostility toward tradition that defines conceptual art as an evident disregard for conventional, modern notions of authorial presence and individual artistic expression.

Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body. Wassily Kandinsky

The critique of formalism and of the commodification of art

  • Conceptual art emerged as a movement during the 1960s – in part as a reaction against formalism as then articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg.
  • The task of painting, for example, was to define precisely what kind of object a painting truly is: what makes it a painting and nothing else.
  • Some have argued that conceptual art continued this “dematerialization” of art by removing the need for objects altogether, while others, including many of the artists themselves, saw conceptual art as a radical break with kind of formalist Modernism.

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