Conceptual art, also known as Conceptualism or Idea Art, is an art movement in which the works come in second place to the ideas that both and originate from these works. With unlimited ways to arrange elements to convey ideas beyond beauty as classical artists would prescribe, Conceptual art shows that art, while it may be unintentional or depend on random happenings, is not meaningless. Is conceptual art a true expression of the light within or just a satire of classical art? Could conceptual art be the art form above all? In this article, we will explore these questions and allow you, the reader, to draw out your conclusions.
What is Conceptual Art?
Conceptual art gives priority to ideas and real-time events rather than the works themselves, so in a sense, it could be anything, as long as there is an idea to back it. Having said this, even when the main concept or idea is the machine that creates art and it is generally done so anyone can reconstruct the evocative work of art, conceptual art is often open and welcoming to whatever feelings the spectator might have; making it a substantially descriptivist experience, as opposed to the dominant prescriptivism in other forms of art. Notorious examples of conceptualism are Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing, which consisted in a drawing from another artist erased by Rauschenberg; A Leap into the Void, from Yves Klein; a performance in which said artist jumps out of a window, in an attempt to fly; Piero Manzoni’s Artist’s Shit and Bodies of Air, which consisted in cans supposedly filled with feces and balloons filled with his breath; It is not to be confused with concept art, which is a graphic design term used to define a sketch that helps visualize an idea, to be developed later.
Conceptual Art across History
It is said that conceptual art started in the ’60s, as a reaction against formalism and classic values, however, earlier manifestations of what is known as happenings are said to be performed by Venezuelan Artist Armando Reverón as early as in the ’30s, and French artist Marcel Duchamp paved the way of what would be the characteristic rearranging of familiar objects present in conceptual art with his readymades, the most notorious one being Fountain, a standard urinal turned upside down. Later in the ’60s would appear the first manifestos of conceptualism, and important figures like Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, Piero Manzoni, Robert Rauschenberg, and Yoko Ono would consolidate the movement. Today, conceptual art has evolved to appear in written form as well; based on works like Rauschenberg’s Self Portrait of Iris Clert, which was a piece of paper that roughly said: “This is a self-portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.”
Conceptual Art as a Subversion of Classic Aesthetics
Concept art acquires much of its validity as an art form from movements like surrealism and dadaism, Such movements opposed stringently what was known as classic values in art; with surrealism using new techniques and allowing for more creative leeway and dadaism rejecting anything aesthetically pleasing for default. These manifestations were precursors for what would be known as performances; art expressions in which the process is equally or more important than the product; and happenings, in which such processes take into account every element in the scene, including the spectator. This, in turn, democratizes art: now anyone could make sense of an array of elements to transmit an idea, without having to resort to classical techniques to achieve a reaction in the spectator.
Conceptual Art as the Dominant Form of Escrita Com Luz
Conceptual art holds a unique place in the Escrita Com Luz philosophy: in it, not only awareness of being is reached through art, art is reached through awareness of being in a sempiternal loop, which is only possible to outline through Descartes’ words: Cogito, ergo sum (I think, then I exist). As a direct result of an idea, and not attached to the aesthetic values of formalism, conceptual art is free to explore darker corners of our mind and might be displeasing and unsettling at times, but isn’t the purpose of art to move us, to make us think and feel? No single work of art is devoid of a concept or meaning, even when such meaning or concept may strike in a painfully obvious way or as though as it might come from the spectator’s perception of it.
Therefore, although not every work can be considered purely conceptual, they are conceived from an idea, be it conscious or unconscious, and even if we were to rule out the unconscious setting of art, how a person can perceive and process the piece in front of them gives it richer validity, since art is an intersubjective experience. Denying this truth would be denying our nature as thinking and feeling beings, and our inherent ability to destroy and create both physically and symbolically.