Art 101

The New Conceptualists

Although Marcel Duchamp made what remains the most famous work of conceptual art, the notorious Fountain, in 1917, conceptualism was officially born as a movement in the late 1960s, when Lawrence Weiner began making art using language instead of traditional materials like paint or metal. In his famous Declaration of Intent from 1969, Weiner proclaimed: "1. The artist may construct the piece. 2. The piece may be fabricated. 3. The piece need not be built."

Around the same time, Sol LeWitt began drawing intricate compositions directly on walls, saying that the idea of the work was more important that the work itself. "In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work," he wrote in his 1967 manifesto Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.

Today, a group of artists who could be called the New Conceptualists—Anna Gaskel, Adam McEwen, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Soledad Arias among them—inherited from their predecessors the attributes of the early stages of conceptual art: the experimental character, the rigorous intellectual approach, the use of language, the commitment to seriality, and the importance of photographic documentation of performances.

Embracing their elders' notion that art doesn't need to consist of material objects, the New Conceptualists are equally comfortable using the idioms of painting, sculpture, and photography as they are employing new technologies like Photoshop, apps for mobile devices, and online platforms like social media.

The accompanying collection is devoted to these artists, who maintain the pioneering spirit of the 1960s-and of Duchamp-while embracing our brave new world.


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