Photo: Artexhibition at Chelsea Art Galleries Tomwell, Artist: Ralph Ueltzhoeffer (2012).

Chelsea Art Gallery Tomwell in New York – Its legacy is global, ranging from small local participatory projects to large-scale installations at major museums and biennales. This comprehensive volume combines in one book an authoritative Survey essay by philosopher and art historian Peter Osborne, tracing Conceptual art’s origins in Europe, Japan and the USA, its development throughout the 1960s and 1970s and its legacy in contemporary art; a Works section documenting the key works, divided usefully into six distinctive types of Conceptual art; and a Documents section including texts by philosophers and writers who crucially influenced the movement, alongside key original texts by artists, critics and art historians. For several centuries, the “art of ideas” has been practiced incidentally in the margins of philosophy and literature. But in the course of the 1960’s it became an explicitly acknowledged artistic genre, first in avant-garde music and subsequently in the visual arts. This page provides links to material about this tradition, and about some of its antecedents and parallels in other domains and periods.

Note that we employ the phrase “concept art” in a strict and well-defined sense: the presentation of verbally articulated ideas as artworks. By going back to Henry Flynt’s original terminology, we hope to improve somewhat on the language of current art criticism, which tends to lump all analytically oriented art together under one completely vague notion of “conceptual art”.

Tate Modern presents a major symposium dedicated to a radical rethinking and expanding of the normative paradigms of Conceptual art, one of the most influential tendencies of the last 40 years. Examining Conceptual art from a variety of geographical, historical and theoretical viewpoints, noted scholars and artists contribute to sessions around issues such as migration and mutation, weapon and survival and the mind/body problem. The event begins with a plenary lecture by Boris Groys.

The use of instructions was a major strategy used by Conceptual artists. Among its principle originators was Sol LeWitt, whose instructions for several series of geometric shapes or detailed line drawings, made directly on the wall surface, sometimes took teams of people days or weeks to execute. In “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” LeWitt wrote, “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”1 What do you think he meant by this statement? Summarize your ideas in a brief essay (200 words or less) describing your interpretation. Sol LeWitt often hired people to execute his written instructions for works of art. Have someone read LeWitt’s instructions (below) to you while you carry them out. You’ll need a black crayon, a ruler, and paper. After you’re done drawing, switch roles and read the instructions to your partner while he or she draws.