1967 | CONCEPTUAL ART. The philosophy of art.
curated by Francesca Franco
The term appears for the first time in the Paragraphs on Conceptual Art published by Sol LeWitt in the magazine Artforum in 1967. The following year Lucy Lippard and John Chandler publish the essay The Dematerialisation of Art [Art International, February 1968], which aims at analysing the two main directions which contemporary research follows – art as idea and art as action. In the former case matter is denied because the feeling is turned into a concept. In the latter case matter, transformed into energy and action, is resolved in time. In both cases the result is a de-materialisation of art as object, as physical presence. The essay also records the growing attitude among artists to design works in the studio and to have them made by professional craftsmen, developing in some cases a lack of interest in the physical evolution of the work.
This tendency to favour thinking processes rather than the material aspects of the work is defined at its best in conceptual art around 1968-69, where the idea becomes the fundamental component of the artistic action and makes up the work of art itself, even when it doesn’t take shape physically. A peculiar aspect of conceptual art is the investigation into the nature of art and the syntactic dimension of the language of art, both past and present. Like words, works of art become signs that convey ideas. Hence they are not limited to the object itself, but exist in linguistic definitions or descriptions of objects drawn directly from the dictionary. In this sense conceptual art shows its ties with a clear philosophical background – structuralism of the 1960s and 1970s inspired by the work of Ferdinand de Saussure [1857 – 1913] and by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s logical positivism and analytical philosophy [1889 –1951], which had identified in the analysis of the logical foundations of language the core issue of philosophy. At the same time it is indebted to the research started by René Magritte [1898-1967] with his statement Ceci n’est pas une pipe [this is not a pipe] which appears on the painting La trahison des images [The Betrayal of Images, 1928-29, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California]. In 1968 Michel Foucault dedicates an essay to this painting, highlighting the paradoxical nature of the caption the artist writes on the painting, which aims at contesting the supposed equivalence between the word, the object and its portrayal, producing a short circuit between reality, representation and meaning.
Alongside Yves Klein [1928 –1962] with his research on void and immateriality, the father of conceptual art is Marcel Duchamp [1887 –1968] with works like Paris Air (1919), a glass ampoule containing air, and Boîte en valige [1943, Museum of Modern Art, New York] which gathers all the writings and the studies on the Large Glass. The main figures of conceptual art are: Joseph Kosuth, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Emilio Prini, Vincenzo Agnetti, Giulio Paolini, Alighiero Boetti, Hanne Darboven, Lawrence Weiner, Marcel Broodthaers, Bernard Venet, the British artists collaborating with the magazines Arte-Language and Art-Analytica.
GIULIO PAOLINI- 1995 - 2005
SOL LEWITT10,000 Lines - 2005
SOL LEWITTScribbles - 2012