“In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all planning and decisions are made beforehand. The execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” Sol Le Witt – via – Originally quoted from ” Paragraphs on Conceptual Art ” Sol Lewitt – Artforum (June, 1967).
The quote above sums up quite well, LeWitt’s notion of conceptual art. However, I disagree that the execution is a perfunctory affair. Given that the “work” is considered the “idea” and the piece of art merely the result is fine, but I believe that one has to “make” the idea into physical form in order to complete the process. It is in the making that the physical world exerts it’s will and the work “becomes” independent of the mind. It is transformed. And the “thing” made is the artifact, a record of the idea, in all it’s physical being – for as long as it may exist in a physical state. Curiously, it seems that the object remains the thing of value around which one buys or sells or exchanges for something else of value. Think of it this way: generally, one usually doesn’t purchase a sheet of musical notation, rather the consumer purchases the sound results of that notation… Even if you do purchase the notation – it is mostly likely so that you can (re)make the music yourself…
It seems that it is the form, a form which constitutes “physical being” which is shifting so rapidly – sometimes only existing in a virtual presence.
a young artist in art school used to worship the paintings of cezanne. he looked and studied all the books he could find on cezanne and copied all of the reproductions of cezanne’s work he found in the books. he visited a museum and for the first time saw a real cezanne painting. he hated it. it was nothing like the cezanne’s he had studied in the books. from that time on, he made all of this paintings the sizes of paintings reproduced in books and he painted them in black and white. he also printed captions and explanations on the paintings as in books. often he just used words. and one day he realized that very few people went to art galleries and museums but many people looked at books and magazines as he did and they got them through the mail as he did. moral: it’s difficult to put a painting in a mailbox.– the best way to do art – john baldessari – via (courteous of the echoing chamber – tumblr)
Perhaps Baldessari had it right – it is something to think about… I also think with time and saturation especially of the virtual experience online – there will be a demand and recognition to return to the physical object as the most rewarding experience….
Even with “make an un-straight line” and the notion that “objects are perishable and ideas need not be” – I wonder why it is that as objects become scarce they tend to increase in value….
Shed with blue lines… by John Pfahl – series from Altered Landscapes
“There’s a great quote by Rauschenberg, who said: “If you’re in front of a good work of art, and you don’t change your mind about something, you’re a fool.” And so it’s similar, that if art just underscores that which we already know, then it’s not doing anything for you. It should present something new, some new frontiers for you, or open up some new ideas of thought, even if it’s a dumb reaction and you say, “I could have done that.” Just acknowledging the fact that you didn’t do it shows, at least, that you’re open to that kind of thinking.”
John Baldesari:National City – interview conducted by Hugh Davies and Andra Hales, Nov. 14, 1995 –
I often question if my “art” antennae is tuned in enough to receive a signal. It’s frustrating when I find myself trying to convince myself that “this or that” must be something worth looking at, or alternatively, something worth trying to make – as if there might be a “standard” for appreciation… or the ability to decipher a “communique” in art. This is especially apparent to me when I don’t appreciate a “sanctioned” work – what does that mean – am I really a fool?
The book, John Baldesari:National City is a good example – having looked it over, I appreciate the conceptual works – a challenge to conventions – the effort of the artist to convey a kind of information about how one might encounter art, judge it by conventions and “get something” from it. But after that, I’m done with it. National City seems to be too laborious and focused on “getting it” – after which I don’t think it’s something I’d want to or need to come back to. In short, it doesn’t seem to stick with me. So I ask myself what’s missing?
I think I’m realizing this partly in contrast to looking at the recently discovered (for me anyway) work by John Pfahl – specifically in his series of Altered landscapes. I think I appreciate this sort of work by Pfahl more because it evokes a mystery that I can’t quite understand. The best ones embrace an odd characteristic of photographs that transform spatial conditions which look very different “in real life” onto flat planes which is interesting to me – that is part of the mystery for me. This coupled with the obvious added touch onto (or into?) the photograph seems just the right thing to do…
Just learned of the passing of Sol LeWitt: perhaps, not unlike his view on conceptual art:
“He also liked the inherent impermanence of Conceptual art, maybe because it dovetailed with his lack of pretense: having started to make wall drawings for exhibitions in the 1960s, he embraced the fact that these could be painted over after the shows. (Walls, unlike canvases or pieces of paper, kept the drawings two-dimensional, he also thought.) He wasn’t making precious one-of-a-kind objects for posterity, he said. Objects are perishable. But ideas need not be. ”
from NYT -story 9 April 2007 – Kimmelman.
LeWitt – has managed to extend what matters beyond his physical presence…
And this from Portland Art + News….
a bit from local artist J. Hayward whose life was changed while working on a
“Many young artists were changed. This drawing was to be made of “unstraight” lines. As a highschooler, I felt I needed a little more direction and asked the artist to clarify what kind of “unstraight” line he had in mind. Was he thinking wildly frenetic or just plane wobbly? ”
The perfect characteristics of a narrator – to let the story be it’s own narration and to find out what the story will say…