Conceptual Art Explained

What defines something as being artistic? Can something be discarded and noted as non-artistic? It is best described by a quote from Joseph Kossuth in an essay from 1969 entitled “Art after Philosophy”, which stated “All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually.”

At it’s peak in the 1960′s and 1970′s, Conceptual Art exploded as did the number of artists making their name known for their artistic abilities. As more and more artists came about so did more different and notably “strange” pieces of art. In 1965 there was a talked about piece of Conceptual art created by John Latham created an exhibit entitled “Still and Chew”. It consisted of students sitting and chewing various pages of textbooks and dissolving them in acid.

Many Conceptual Artist’s work is not easily understood without some degree of explanation. In 1964 Yoko Ono released a Conceptual piece in the form of a book of instructions entitled “Grapefruit”; it was widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and in 2000. It is said that within this book there are many listens that resemble a Zen like description of instructions. This expert from Grapefruit shows just that, “Hide and seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies.”

Additionally, a very well know early piece of Conceptual art is that of Marcel Duchamp entitled “Fountain”. The piece was “created” in 1917 and has been noted to have changed the face of art as it was known. In brief, “Fountain” was a urinal. He stated that it was art he created since he had gave it a name, put it in a different context, and caused the person viewing it to have a new thought of the item. Initially “Fountain” left a bad taste in ones mouth, but that soon changed. It became glorified, and in 2004 Duchamp’s Fountain was voted, by 500 British art world professionals, to be the most influential piece of art in the 20th century. That’s pretty impressive for a potty!

A sub-category of Conceptual Art is Found Art, or Readymade as it is more commonly known. Basically this involves using an object that is not typically referred to as art, but the artist may modify it. Basically Readymade can be used to describe any item that has a function that it not art related. Like a chair, table, window pane, etc. In order for an item to be considered Found art the final piece must have the Artist’s input, or at the very least, a thought or idea about the item noted in form of a title. If an artist decides to modify an item in the name of Conceptual art they cannot modify it past the point of recognition. Modification of Conceptual art can be split into three categories:

- Modified Found Object
- Interpreted Found Object
- Adapted Found Object

Let’s not forget another medium and another form of Conceptual art is Concept photography. This creates a photo in which the photographer has a goal to elicit an emotion from the viewer of the photo. Ultimately, the photographer wants the admirer to feel as if they are in the image rather than just an admirer of it. Conceptual Art, art based on ideas, is based off the idea of society needing to focus more on the ideas behind the art rather than the actual item itself. This is an amazing way to create conversation in the home, office, or other place where the piece can be viewed.

Peter Dranitsin is a self taught and self representing artist. He grew up in the family where his mother a professional artist and his father a professional photographer. “As a kid growing up I did took art classes and learned the basic concepts of drawing, painting and sculpture.