Conceptual Art refers to a diverse range of artistic practice from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, where emphasis was placed on the concept or idea rather than the physical art object. It also refers more generally to a framework for creating and understanding Contemporary Art, which prioritises a consideration of the idea or concept, and the integration of context when encountering the work. The origin and meaning of the term is disputed, as Conceptual Art defies traditional forms of definition and categorisation, and cannot be identified by a uniform style or medium.
Conceptual Art emerged during a period of social, political and cultural upheaval in the 1960s. It was a reaction to the perceived constraints of Modernism and the increasing commodification of the art object. Artists sought the means to think beyond the medium-specific aspects of traditional art forms, such as originality, style, expression, craft, permanence, decoration and display, attributed to Painting and Sculpture. They used Language and Text to directly disseminate ideas, demystify artistic production and negate visuality. Artworks took the form of written statements, declarations, definitions and invitations. As a consequence, this period has been described in terms of the ‘dematerialisation’ of the art object; a notion contested by some artists who argue that all ideas are accompanied by some form of artistic material, whether it is a photograph, sketch, instruction or map. Internationally, Conceptual Art is recognised for its use of both text and ephemeral or everyday materials, such as Found Objects, Readymades, Photography, Video, Performance, Documentation and Film. 1
About the Project
This IMMA programme is a great way to find out more about the concepts and terms used in contemporary art. It includes talks, booklets and web-based resources which you can explore below. The programme is presented in four series, three of which you can explore in the menu above. 2
About the Publisher
Irish Museum Of Modern Art (IMMA) is Ireland’s National Cultural Institution for Modern and Contemporary Art. Their diverse and ambitious programme comprises exhibitions, commissions and projects by leading Irish and international artists, as well as a rich engagement and learning programme which together provides audiences of all ages the opportunity to connect with contemporary art and unlock their creativity. IMMA is home to the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, started in 1990 and now numbering over 3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists. This national resource available through exhibitions at IMMA and other venues nationally and internationally, engagement and learning programmes and digital resources.