What Is Conceptual Art?

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Conceptual art is simply art based on ideas, and the movement began in the early 20th century when artists began concentrating more on the ideas behind art rather than the purely retinal-focused purposes. Think about art conceptually, focusing less on what is presented and more on what is implied, with information from an art historian, critic and curator in this free video on art.

Part of the Video Series: Modern Art History
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Betty Brown. Conceptual art is an avant-garde art form that developed in the middle of the 20th century. Marcel Duchamp said you know, let's get away from purely retinal or eye focused art and instead of thinking about just the way the art looks, let's think about the ideas behind it. And that seed that he planted in the early 20th century came to fruition in the 1960's and 70's with what is called conceptual art, art based on ideas. The best artist I can use to explain this concept is Joseph Kosuth, that's K O S U TH, Joseph, and he did a piece that I find really pertinent to this discussion called One and Three Chairs. So Kosuth takes an actual chair and then he photographs it and presents the photograph and then he takes out of a translator dictionary the definition of chair in both English and French. So you have an actual chair, a photograph of a chair, and a definition of the chair, again in two languages and the two languages and pertinent because Joseph Kosuth's One in Three Chairs is an examination of the idea of the chair and the way we represent it, the way we think about it and the way that representation changes through not just various media, photograph versus text, but also through various languages, visual, auditory, written, English, French. So he puts these all together and asks you to think about the idea of the chair and the representation of the chair and it's a conceptual artwork.

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