[ARTS 315] Conceptual Art: New Strategies for Meaning – Jon Anderson

[ARTS 315] Conceptual Art: New Strategies for Meaning – Jon Anderson


[upbeat music]>>What we’re gonna do
today is try to define it, clearly. That’s a fool’s errand, [laughs] because it’s not clear. Not because it’s inherently convoluted but because there are
multiple things going on. We mean multiple different things when we’re talking about Postmodern, because it’s an inherently ambiguous term. It’s after modern, it’s beyond modern. And there are so many different ways to position yourself beyond
modernity, and beyond modernism. So it’s a difficult
thing to get a hold of, and it tends to mean different things in different disciplines, as does modern modernity in politics means something a bit different than modernity in economics, or in art or in literature, or in philosophy. We got different time
periods and different things we’re talking about. However, there does seem
to be a sort of core or a constellation of ideas. That’s probably a better
way of understanding it. A constellation of ideas, and values, and positions that we
generally call modern, generally call postmodern. And we’re gonna try to
make sense of that today. Particularly this afternoon. I’ll leave you in suspense for it and we’ll get to it this afternoon, and this morning we’re gonna
put a few pieces in place that I think will help us to define postmodern art and help
us to understand it. Good, any questions thus far? [laughing] Okay, we’ll dive in then. So just to reboot our
train of thought a bit, we started this class with Pollock, after a brief rehearsal of modernism, early century modernism. We started the class with Pollock, and we’ve already discovered an ambiguity in Pollock, a lot of ambiguities, probably, but an ambiguity into what Pollock means. How do we interpret Pollock’s work? One of the ways that it was interpreted, by people like Clement Greenberg was that this is formalist painting. This is painting being
stripped of its associations. It’s subservience to literature, stripped of its illusionism, stripped of all of that stuff, and getting down to a tough philosophical formalist painting, and I think out of that comes post-painterly abstraction, and then minimalism, minimalist painting, where it’s a continued
investigation of formalism. How does form mean? How do we create internally consistent and internally self
referential meaningful forms? Okay, so we looked at Frank Stella, we looked at Ellsworth Kelly and this insistence on formal
structure, formal meaning. And eventually, that does push, it does push towards sculpture. Because these, even the
paintings with Kelly, and Stella are so much
emphasizing the objectness of the painting that they
become objects in the room. They become sculptures in a way, although they don’t
like the term sculpture, because that’s too laden with tradition and things like that, so presences. A present objects and so on and so forth. Okay so we tracked that train of thought, and I do think you have to
run that through Pollock in one way or another, but of course that’s not the
only way to interpret this and it’s not the only
way we’ve interpreted it in this class. There would be other
people like Rosenberg, Harold Rosenberg, for instance, who would see in this not, would see in this, not
formalism, pure formal painting, but would see activity,
the activity of the artist. He would see the artwork referencing all kinds of things
outside of the painting, specifically the life of the artist, the decision making process, the whole imagery of the artist entering the void of the canvas and grappling with it over time, and so this thing isn’t a
self contained object at all, and isn’t just a pure optical experience without reference, but is referencing all sorts of things, referencing the conventions of painting, the whole dialogue of Cubism
and all that business, and that train of thought is going to lead more through Rauschenberg and some of the artists that we’ve been talking
about more recently, where Rauschenberg also pushes towards the pure picture plain early on, but instead of getting a
pure optical experience that’s self contained, rather he gets a projection screen. What Leo Steinberg called
a receptor surface, a highly receptive surface that receives the world around it, receives, points to, and makes room for all of the cultural discourse
and cultural interactions that are going on in front of it and around it. And of course that leads him to that same three panel receptor surface, starts to accumulate the stuff of life, the stuff of the studio, the stuff that goes into helping us understand art and make sense of art and make sense of painting. It doesn’t become self contained at all. And so work like Rauschenberg’s, perhaps goes through Pollock in a way, but it ends up turning towards cultural conventions and becoming really self conscious about the
stuff of cultural exchange, rather than isolated
pure formal experiences, and we certainly talked about, quite a bit about John Cage, so we won’t go into him too much, but there’s something really important happening here in the work for a variety of reasons. What does Cage’s composition
point you towards? What does it point you towards? I’ll let you answer that? He opens up silence and rest as the musical composition, and so what do you end up experiencing?>>Student: The structure
of the performance. Yeah. Everything around you, the
structure of the performance, and your expectations for
what a performance should be, the expectations for how
it should be organized, what should happen, the whole, expectations about the structure of the performance hall, what the audience is supposed to do and so on and so forth. He makes room for that
and lets all of that in and turns your attention
towards those things, and so one has to ask with Cage and with much of the work
we’re gonna look at today. Where is the art? Is it in what he wrote on the paper? Or is it even in what was done on on the piano? Done on stage? Where is the artwork? It doesn’t seem like it’s
in an object anymore. You can’t really point to an object and say that’s the artwork. Yeah.>>Student: I was just gonna say it’s just about the idea.>>Yeah.>>Student: The ideas involved.>>Yeah, yeah, that’s right. There’s a concept that the artist sets into motion and uses the structure
of the performance hall and the structure of
performance in general, uses that to initiate an experience on the part of the audience, and the artwork is in the
reflection on that experience. Is the idea or the experience. The contemplation of what does this mean? What did he do to us? [laughing] The artwork is there, and I think it’s also important to notice what Cage’s strategy is. It’s a strategy of interruption. For as much as it’s about, as much as the work
itself is about silence and rest, his strategy is to interrupt our expectations. What we expect to happen, he strategically interrupts them and
that is what causes us, throws us into a crisis
where we have to figure the thing out. What is this? What is he doing? So it’s a strategy of interruption that turns us towards our expectations and turns us towards trying to make sense of what is difficult
to make sense of, initially. And we see that same thing run through Warhol, a similar kind of strategy, and a similar kind of
philosophy of art, I think, that if Rauschenberg
was treating his canvas as a receptor surface for the studio and the culture around him, and if Cage was treating
the musical composition and the musical performance as a receptor surface, a receptor space for the noises of life
and the expectations that we bring to any situation in life. If he was treating his
work as a receptor space, I think Warhol turned himself
into a receptor surface, as we talked about last week, where specifically he
is the passive consumer who what he receives, the landscape he turns himself towards, the space he turns himself towards is the space of mass
production and consumption of that production, and so what does he do? Where is Warhol’s art? Is Warhol’s art here the painting? If you just are trying to make sense of the image itself, it falls a little flat, doesn’t it? Okay, I’m supposed to think
about Campbell’s soup. What am I supposed to think
about Campbell’s soup? Well, I don’t really know. I don’t have that much to
think about Campbell’s soup. Rather, you really start getting traction with Warhol’s work when you back up a step, and you start asking the question not what did he depict, but what does it mean to do this thing? What is he doing? What is the activity on
the part of the artist on the canvas? And once you start asking that question, you realize, Oh, he is turning himself into a passive machine that just reiterates what has already been mass produced. And once you do that, then, Okay, now I know why he’s
doing Campbell’s soup. But the meaning of the artwork is more in the performance of the
mechanical reproduction rather than it is in the image or even in the optical experience of it. So one reads this not by
reading into Marilyn Monroe per se, but reading into the mechanical reproduction of her image. It’s an action that we interpret and that we read into. Okay, that’s where we’ve been, and that gives us a running start into where we’re going today. And notice also with Warhol, specifically where is
he turning us towards? He’s turning us towards cultural exchange. Signs, they’re signs, that he is messing with and reproducing, and what we’re gonna get in
postmodern art in general is a turn, is all of these things we’ve been tracking so far from Rauschenberg through Cage and Warhol is an attempt to back up a step and become really self conscious about the conventions and the structures that are shaping my experiences
and my expectations, and what are those structures? They’re social structures, they’re language structures, they’re structures of
signs and relationships between signs, this web of
language and signification as we’ll call it. So they’re gonna become
really self conscious about those things, and really self conscious
about how meaning plays out in within those structures, and they’re gonna make us self conscious about those things by employing that
strategy of interruption. How do you draw attention
to language itself? You start interrupting language. You start interrupting it, in various ways, you start interrupting its flow and its seamlessness, and that draws our attention
to the language itself. Okay and… This will help us to take in this class the postmodern turn as it’s often called. Okay, so we’ll get back
to that this afternoon and try to articulate
exactly what that means. Today, or this morning, I wanna, as I said, put some historical pieces in place because so far in the
timeline of this class, we’ve worked our way up through the 60s. We’re still in the mid-60s, in order to really have the conversation I want to have this afternoon, we need to get into the 70s. So today, this morning, we’re gonna try to see what’s happening in the late 60s and 70s, and specifically, we’re
going to talk about conceptual art. That will be the missing piece that will help us to have our discussion this afternoon, conceptualism. What is conceptualism? It’s a difficult thing, but we’ll see if we can
make some sense of it, and we’ll start with Joseph Kosuth. What do you see here? What is this?>>Student: A chair.>>A chair. Is it one chair? Or is it one and three chairs? Okay, so there’s a chair, and I imagine initially, that’s somewhat underwhelming. This work is visually
fairly underwhelming. Not a whole lot of, there’s not a whole lot to grab onto in a way, there’s not
really much indication of skill being employed here on the part of the artist, at least what we
traditionally mean by that. There’s not a whole lot
of aesthetic beauty. It’s not really all that
attractive to look at. There doesn’t seem to be
much in the way of expression or emotional content. It really does seem
like the work is so cool and distant, removed. It’s not really trying to
pull on your heartstrings and it’s not trying to pull
on your aesthetic pleasures. It seems to be withholding
all of those traditional things that we associate with art, and you gotta pay attention to whenever an artist is doing that. Whenever you feel like
an artwork is withholding a lot from you, Cage was withholding
almost everything from you, then what do they want you to sit on? What do they want you to grab onto? What does the artist
want you to grab on to, if he’s withholding most
of what you associate with art making? It’s probably strategic, and it’s certainly strategic with someone like Kosuth, who’s a really sharp guy and really intentional with his work. So we see a chair here. Do we see one chair,
do we see three chairs? What is this? Describe the whole thing. [student speak away from microphone] Okay, good, so we’ve got an object that
we would say is the chair. We’ve got an image of the same chair, and then we’ve got a
definition in language of chair, and so the question arises here as with much of the work
that we’ve been looking at thus far, where is the art work? Well, no, let’s back
up a step before that. Where is the chair? [laughing] Is the chair only the
object in the middle, and if so, then Kosuth asks, what happens if I do this? Where’s the chair? If it’s only the object in the middle, these are totally different objects. Are they both chair, and if so, the chair is not in the object? Because you’ve got a chair here and you’ve got a chair here and those
are totally different objects, right? So where’s the chair? It might cause it to slide off the object and say then, “Well, I’ve never seen this object before “and I still regard it as chair, “and I’ve never seen the
following object before, “and I still regard it as chair, “so maybe I’m carrying
chair around with me “rather than it actually
residing in the objects.” I recognize that as a
chair and that as a chair, and this is a chair, because the chair is some sort of an idea or a construct in my head. It’s not in the objects. Perhaps, what I’m
carrying around in my head are images of chairs, experiences with chairs, that help me to interpret this and to see it as a chair, so perhaps it’s a collection of images. Perhaps it’s a kind of definition. Do I get at my ability to recognize and identify all of these
things around me as chairs because I’ve got some kind of a definition in my head, I know what chairs are. I know what they’re used for, and so if this thing looks like I could use it for that purpose, then I identify it as a chair. You see what he’s doing though? Is he is putting under pressure, if you give him some time to do it ’cause it’s a slow read, though simple, it’s simple but slow it doesn’t disclose
itself very loudly at all, but if you give some time, what he’s doing is putting under pressure your interpretation of objects. Your interpretation of images, and that pressure on interpretation is going to be common
throughout almost everything that we look at today. How do I interpret this thing? How do I make sense of this, and that begs the question
of where is the meaning? Where is the meaning of a thing? That is crucial to art making and our questions, right? Is where is the meaning? Is the meaning in the form? That would be formalism, or is the meaning somewhere else? Is it in language? Is it in images? Have we just decided together what chairs are? Would a second millennium BC Mesopotamian identify this as a chair? Well, if we bring that person into play, they wouldn’t recognize this object. They might make some sense of it. They would have very different
images in their head, and they wouldn’t be able to
read this English business, and further displaces our security in interpreting the thing. Slows us down so much, where initially we look
at this and oh, chair. Boring. Why is this artwork? But it gradually starts to displace our ability, well, no, it doesn’t displace our ability. We all do look at this chair, and it’s a quick read. What he does is displaces our confidence in why it is, why we regard it as chair so quickly. He calls it into question. Where’s the meaning? Where does the meaning reside? And for him, if he gets you asking
those sort of questions, he’s accomplished everything that art should accomplish. Which we’ll get into here in a bit. This is conceptualism. This is conceptual art, and we’re gonna try to understand that in the next, in the time we have left. I’ll give you a few quotes from Kosuth, but here’s him talking about
this work in particular. “I used common functional objects, “such as a chair and to
the left of the object “would be a full scale photograph of it, “and to the right of the object “would be a photostat of
a definition of the object “from the dictionary. “Everything you saw when
you looked at the object “had to be the same that
you saw in the photograph.” And that is not the case here, but evidently that became, actually this is probably
because it’s exhibited in a museum and they
didn’t follow the rules. [laughing] Anyway… Everything you saw when
you looked at the object had to be same that you
saw in the photograph, so each time the work was exhibited, the new installation necessitated a new photograph. I liked that the work itself was something other than simply what you saw, by changing the location, the object, the photograph, and still
having it remain the same work was very interesting to me. It meant that you could have an artwork, which was that idea of an artwork, and its formal components
weren’t important. Does that make sense? He changes the location, he changes all of the objects, but somehow it’s the same artwork. We still refer to this
as One and Three Chairs from 1965. So where is the artwork? It’s not in the objects and that is going to be crucial to his point. Okay, so here’s Kosuth. I’ll give you two conceptual artists to remember and to get to know. We’ll try to get to
know them this morning, and the first is Kosuth. You can locate Kosuth
as being very important starting in 1965, and he continues to work. He’s still doing major
installations today. Just last year, he had a
major museum installation, so he’s still very active. So you don’t just confine him to ’65, but that’s where you can date the beginning of his real importance as far as we’re concerned. Which is young, he’s a young guy when he comes on the scene. So here’s Kosuth and we’ll hear a little bit from Kosuth, and this is coming from one of the essays that I gave you in your
optional reading for today, ’cause it’s challenging reading. It’s an essay called Art After Philosophy and I suppose gives you an idea of just from the title where he’s going. Art replaces philosophy. Philosophy becomes convoluted, and art replaces it in a way, pushes beyond it and
takes over its functions. In a way, art becomes a better philosophy is what he’ll argue. It’s a better way of doing philosophy because it’s not just tied up in writing and language but is working out philosophy with regards to objects themselves, the objects that we interact
with on a daily basis. And he says this, “The value of particular
artists after Duchamp “can be weighed according to how much “they questioned the nature of art.” And that tells you where he’s going. Duchamp is his forefather. His hero, if you will. He thinks Duchamp initiated
the most important discussions in art, and what the discussion that he initiates is this questioning of art. What is it, how does it work? And he goes on. “The event that made conceivable the realization that it was possible to speak another language,
to make sense in another way and still make sense in art was Marcel Duchamp’s first unassisted ready made, this change,”
and the change is “one from appearance to conception.” That you have to read
the artwork of Duchamp and of Kosuth, not in terms of what they look like, how they appear, but
how they’re conceived. The conception of the work. The ideas, the concepts
that initiate the work and set it into motion, that’s what you have to
read, not the appearance, and it’s Duchamp’s first
unassisted ready mades. This change was the
beginning of modern art. That’s questionable how
he’s using that word, and the beginning of conceptual art. So what is conceptual art? Well, we’ll go back to Duchamp briefly. We’ve talked about Duchamp a bit already, so we won’t perseverate on him, but what’s Duchamp doing? He’s exhibiting an object that interrupts our expectations in almost every way or
complicates their expectations of what the museum and what the gallery is supposed to do. What exhibition is supposed to be about. He interrupts it. He interrupts it by withholding
the artist’s craftsmanship. He didn’t make this. He interrupts it by the
way it conveys meaning. There’s no narrative here. The only narratives that
you can associate with it are peeing on it or into it. It’s not really, it’s
such a low crude narrative that it undermines and
interrupts our expectations. Is it beautiful? All of our associations
with peeing in the thing probably disrupt its ability
to be beautiful to us. He interrupts all of these things but essentially argues that it is artwork because he signs it, and he exhibits it, and after all, aren’t those the same, isn’t that what is happening
to all of these things, but a painting that is covered and kept in a closet for years and years, is that artwork, is it
operating as artwork, or does it only become artwork when it is exhibited within this formal
structure of the museum or the gallery and it is contemplated? Would you read into its narrative? We appreciate its beauty, we
appreciate its craftsmanship. Is that where the artwork is? And if so, then Duchamp is saying, how far can I push that? Duchamp’s question is
really, how far can I push our traditional definitions of art, and still have it be art? Is it the exhibition of the thing, the presentation of the thing, the renaming of the thing, the presenting it for the
sake of contemplation. Is that what makes it art? And if he gets you asking those questions, then he would say, well yes, that’s art. Because art is not defined
by what the thing is. But art is defined by what it’s doing. If an object is art-ing, it is art. Just as, if an object is used to hammer, whether we typically associate it with the form of a hammer, or not, it becomes, functionally, a hammer. So what is art-ing” For Duchamp, art-ing
is drawing an audience into contemplation and
questioning of meaning, meaningfulness of the thing. And he’s gonna assert that point by withholding almost everything else you normally associate with art, and giving you only that. [laughs] Only an artist presenting a thing for contemplation and reflection. Does that, do you track with that? Is that going down okay? [laughs] I don’t know if it should. But, maybe so, maybe so. And, at any rate, that
point about redefining artwork to an operation that happens between an object and a person, has huge implications, huge. The art is in the meaningfulness of the thing, is what it means. It’s not in the thing. The meaningfulness of the thing. So, what shapes the
meaningfulness of the thing? Well, all sorts of things. Language, values. But they’re all cultural,
to a great extent. If you just set this
thing up on the sidewalk, it will interrupt people, but it probably won’t be contemplated. It sort of requires, just like cages work, it requires the institution
and the cultural framework of the museum, and of the gallery, in order to function, in order to get us to stop
and reflect on the thing. About Duchamp, Kosuth says this, “Duchamp put art at the
service of the mind, “the non-retinal beauty of gray matter.” [laughs] What’s gray matter? Brains. Non-retinal beauty, is what
Kosuth says Duchamp is after. And Kosuth will follow suit. And so Kosuth identifies,
specifically, the, What does he call it? What’s the phrase? The unassisted ready-made. The object that hasn’t
been altered at all, but just represented. And because it’s represented, and titled in the name of an artist, It takes on different meaning. It starts art-ing, if you will. And so what would be an example of his unassisted ready-made? Well, the fountain is awfully close. He does sign it. Is that unassisted? I don’t know. But one of his works that’s definitely unassisted ready-made, is this one called In Advance of the Broken Arm. And it is a snow shovel. [laughs] And he presents it as an artwork, in a museum, in a gallery. And in doing so,
interrupts our expectations for what we should find in a gallery. And by titling it, it starts to spin off into all sorts of other associations, that we have with this
thing, with this form. And it starts to pick up meaning, and generate meaning in ways that it hadn’t before, supposedly. And that’s what Kosuth is going
to be very impressed with. Representing an object for
the sake of contemplation. Not aesthetic contemplation, but conceptual,
philosophical contemplation. Questioning what it is and how it means. And how meaning means. [laughs] It becomes very, sort
of, meta, very quickly. So, according to Kosuth, “All art, after Duchamp,” and these are his parentheses, not mine. “All art, after Duchamp,
is conceptual in nature.” Questioning the nature of art leads you to the conclusion
that all art is conceptual, because art only exists conceptually. The art is in the meaning of the thing. It’s not in the thing. So it exists conceptually
and only conceptually. And that’s going to go
a step further, I think. What is conceptual space? How are meanings held conceptually? Well, “the art I call conceptual “is based on the understanding “of the linguistic nature
of all art propositions.” He’s basically gonna say, the way that art works, is linguistically. It has always worked linguistically. It’s a kind of language
that carries meaning in the ways that language carries meaning. That the sounds coming out of my head, we’ve decided mean certain things, and so those conventions
allow us to communicate and allow the sounds out of my head to be meaningful to you. And those meanings, or those conventions
that determine language, also, are where the meaning resides, the way that we exchange
thoughts, exchange concepts. Okay, that’s really heavy sledding so far. Any questions, or comments,
problems up to that point? Is it not so heavy sledding? I should go faster? [laughs] I think it’s not so bad, once you get some of this background, it’s like, oh, okay, the artwork is in
the meaning, not in the object. We’ll try to sort out what
implications that has as we go. Yeah?>>Student: When he
talks about linguistics, is he saying that languages culturally? ‘Cause there’s this thing
that’s in philosophy, that said that art replaces philosophy. Is he saying that because, like what about philosophy
can’t be trusted–>>Can’t be trusted? Yeah, that’s a hard question. The question is, what about
language can’t be trusted? Specifically in philosophy. Kosuth is really
influenced by a philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein. Have any of you heard of Wittgenstein? He’s diff [laughs] I hesitate to even get
into him, he’s difficult. He’s widely considered to
be the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. I mean, Wittgenstein
really shook things up. He’s early 20th century,
he’s doing, early half. He’s doing his most important work in the teens and 20s, gives up philosophy and then goes back to it in the 30s, and I think into the 40s. And gives up philosophy
after writing this book called the Tractatus. That’s what it’s often
referred to as, the Tractatus. And Wittgenstein is basically saying, he’s trying to create a secure, logical language structure,
within which to do philosophy. Where he strips everything down to simple propositions, simple statements. So he excludes complex statements. But as he starts to put pressure on that, saying can I say the
simple proposition of, this is Friday and you all are here for contemporary art trends. He would say, well, that’s
a really loaded proposition, because it’s forcing you to already accept all sorts of things. You know what Friday is. And if we’re gonna track down how we know what Friday is,
we’ve got a long way to go. [laughs] Right, what does Friday mean? Okay, so he’s gonna work on Friday, how does he know what Friday is? And he’s gonna really work on, so what’s contemporary at trends. Well that’s hugely loaded. Defining contemporary, defining
art, and defining trends, and then situating that all
within a university structure, you know what university is
and you know how this fits into all of this and all of that. You know what today is
and so on and so forth, so we need to break that
down and have propositions that explain all of those things, and the further he does
that the more he realizes that somehow our language
is already sort of aloft. It’s already functioning as a network, and we can’t locate how it’s grounded or how it makes sense to us. Does that make some sense? And so he says, ultimately concludes, maybe not ultimately, but he does conclude that philosophy, all the
problems of philosophy are problems with the
language of philosophy. So, we have all sorts of difficulties that we’ve been working
on forever and ever like the problem of external minds and blah blah blah blah blah. All of these, the
internal, external objects, objective subjective, and he would say, all of it is a language problem. We’ve set up the language incorrectly and philosophy is supposed
to work through the language and try to get our
language working problem. So, he gives up philosophy [laughs]. He says, this has sort of… Solved things. He essentially becomes a kind of mystic that he believes it’s held together in ways that can’t be explained. It’s the unexplainable. Language, which is our
vehicle for explanation, can’t be explained, and so
he becomes a kind of mystic, if you will. He eventually goes back to philosophy because he thinks he made
some mistakes along the way. I’m sorry, I’m rambling
Wittgenstein to you off the top of my head! Hopefully I haven’t
made too many mistakes. But Wittgenstein is
really import to Kosuth. If it’s Duchamp in art, it’s
Wittgenstein in philosophy, and with both Wittgenstein and Kosuth, they wouldn’t say that
language is totally unreliable. It’s exceedingly reliable. I mean, language really works
for us for the most part. It breaks down every once and a while and it gets us into
trouble philosophically, but language works. The problem is when you
put so much confidence and certainty in the way
that language is working, as though you master it. Does that make sense? If you are in the place
where you feel like you have mastered meaning and
the functioning of language then most likely you’re… You’re… Coercing people. You’re controlling people. You’re abusing language. You don’t have enough humility
about how language works. Does that make some sense? Sometimes we have the tendency to put it in either or categories. Like either language is
airtight or it’s not, and he’s not saying, I mean, either language is airtight or it’s totally unreliable. He’s not gonna, I mean he’s
certainly not on the end of language is totally
airtight and reliable, but he’s certainly not on the, he’s not a nihilist,
and he doesn’t believe that language is just,
who can know anything, throw up our hands, it’s all vapors. He’s not there, but he’s going to be, maybe the best way to say it is, he’s gonna be extremely hypersensitive to how language is
working, trying to pick up the missteps and the foibles and the ways that we try to
control each other through it. Does that make sense? Does that help a little bit? I mean, Kosuth isn’t
gonna be so interested in control and power. I’m importing this afternoon’s lecture in. Because after Kosuth and
after this train of thought, the next step is well,
then, how do we use language and these signs, and if it’s not control, there’s power in it, there are power relations in language. I’m sorry, let’s leave that
off for a little while. Okay, any other questions? I’m sorry I just downloaded
Wittgenstein on you.>>[Student In Audience]
I had another question.>>Yeah.>>[Student In Audience]
How would Kosuth respond to Greenberg’s [speaks
softly away from microphone].>>Yeah.>>[Student In Audience] Our kinda take on [speaks softly away from microphone]>>Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah, how does Kosuth
respond to Greenberg? He’s not much of a fan of Greenberg.>>[Student In Audience] Okay.>>And has some pretty tough
things to say about Greenberg. Mostly because he just thinks
that formalism is naive. It’s naive, it overlooks the
way that the whole thing, painting, sculpture,
the whole art discourse is so heavily mediated by language and by cultural conventions that talking about the purity of art is nonsense. There’s no purity of art,
there’s no purity in anything, because what is that? If it’s language, what is pure language? Does that make some sense? Maybe I’ve mischaracterized
that a little bit, but he’s pretty rough on Greenbery and doesn’t have much time for formalism because it’s too naive for him. It’s not sensitive enough to
how it’s using its language, maybe that’s how he would say it. Okay. So let’s look at a little
bit more of Kosuth’s work. So, our question is where’s the chair, and then, where’s the art. [laughs] The art is in the question,
where’s the chair. And our contemplation of
how we think through things and how we associate meanings with things, and he’s gonna do this,
you’ll find that he’s got a system and he just
riffs on the same system over and over again. Plays it out for quite a while and then has another system and plays it out for a while and that
is gonna be important, as we’ll see a little later on. That systematizing of the art making. There’s no expression, all
of that language is dead to the conceptualists. Expressions, emotions, beauty, skill, they couldn’t care less
about those things. It’s systematizing concepts. So you’ll find that he
does the same thing. We get One and Three Chairs and we get One and Three Hammers. There’s the hammer. And what you’ll find with him
is that he’s really well read in philosophy and he’s really sharp. And so I think the objects he chooses specifically have references
already built into them from the language of philosophy. So, for instance, he is very
familiar with Heidegger. Martin Heidegger. It seems like every other
example that Heidegger gives is of a hammer [laughs] or using a hammer, at least in Being and Time. That’s his example. Is this Heidegger’s hammer? I mean, Heidegger is really important to this whole conversation. Is this Heidegger’s hammer? Is this Nietzsche’s hammer? Nietzsche at various points talks about using a hammer in relation to the idols. Whether that’s a hammer
that destroys the idols or a tuning hammer to
see if it has resonance and see if it’s hollow or not. Is the hammer a tool? It is a tool. Is language a kind of tool? At any rate. He uses the hammer and
he references, or he uses the snow shovel. What do you think of? Duchamp immediately. So these things aren’t simple
objects that he chooses but already full of
associations even before you start working out
the, or all wrapped up in trying to work out this image thing, image object definition
kind of relationship.>>[Student In Audience] Can
I ask if there’s a reason he only uses three instead of. [speaking away from microphone]>>Oh, that’s a good question. Yeah, that’s right. Why a photograph instead of
a drawing is maybe one way to ask that. I mean, you’re absolutely, why three, and why not a drawing? Yeah, photography is starting to play an interesting role here. We haven’t talked so
much about photography in this class yet other than to use it as the problem [laughs]. It’s the problem that forces painting into its identity crisis at the beginning of the 20th century. But photography is going to
become more and more important from here on out. And it has this conflicted relationship from here on out, which
is why it’s so important. On the one hand, traditionally photography has been the medium of facts. It just coolly records the world in a mechanical way. You put all of the
difficulties of representation into a machine that can do it for you, and it just records the facts as they are. So, you have that
tradition on the one hand, and I think he plays into that here, where it’s a really deadpan,
really deadpan pictures, photos, without any kind
of, if it was a drawing, it would speak so much
of the artist’s hand and interpretation. This is just an image, objective image. But on the other hand,
photography, as we saw with Warhol, is already by this point already loaded up with advertising and
with celebrity culture. Photography is the medium
of eliciting desire from consumers. So photography takes on
this really complex identity that is going to become really important to postmodern art actually. So we’ll talk more about photography, but I think that at least the first half of what I said is important to
why he uses photography here rather than drawing. He does experiment with
multiples, more than threes, but it’s still the same system. It does, you could
consider what other ways of representing these
objects could he come up with rather than, or in
addition to a photograph, the object and a definition. In this case, he’s got five
objects up there, five things, called One and Five Clock, where he’s got the clock, he’s
got a photograph of a clock, and then he’s got three definitions
rather than just the one and those definitions
are, if you can’t see it, the first is the definition of time. Which is, uh, a difficult
definition to pull off. The second one is the definition of clock, and the third one is the
definition of object. So he’s kind of unfolding different ways of understanding this thing
that are all synthesized and combined into this one thing, and here he does incorporate
the passage of time, where the clock is
running but the photograph freezes a time, it freezes one moment, the moment at which the
photograph was taken. Which helps us to
understand time differently than we understand it
in the object itself. He’s gonna take this same strategy and employ it a variety of other ways. What is this object. This supposedly simple, purely
formal, minimalist cube, what is it? It’s a box, it’s a cube, it’s empty, it’s clear, it’s glass. And so he ends up taking
essentially one thing and unfolding it into
multiple interpretations so in a way it becomes multiple objects, multiple interpretations of that object, that minimalist cube. So minimalism becomes. I mean, he’s using the
language of minimalism, and I think he would say that. Minimalism has a language,
the language of geometry and industrially produced
material’s that don’t age and all of those things. He’s using the language of minimalism but complicating it by
pointing out its language and pointing out all the ways
that it gets interpreted. And you could keep going with this, you could keep adding to it. You could have on that
has the dimensions on it. You could have on that has the location that the glass was purchased
it or who fabricated it and on and on and on, the interpretations of this seemingly simple formal object unfold indefinitely. And he’ll do this over and over again. Leaning, clear, glass, square. You might ask why he uses glass here, ’cause he seems to repeat his use of glass starting at this time, and I think it’s a sort
of, he’s sort of punning on the notion of the
transparency of language, that language is just this
thing that we read through. Right, you hear my word tree,
and you don’t get all hung up on the sound but rather
you read through it to the image of a tree or the transparency of representation historically. You see a painted surface and the surface becomes transparent
because you start thinking about a man next to a
chair smiling at you. So I think he kind of puns on that use, the way we talk about
language and representation as transparent, and
shows that it’s maybe not so transparent or if it is,
if it does become transparent, it’s a really complex thing
with lots of definition sort of synthesized into one another. This thing is leaning,
it’s clear, it’s glass, it’s square, it’s words, it’s
material, it’s described, and so on and so forth. And once he starts switching
the language on you, you become even more
conscious of how the language is tied to interpretation of the thing. Some of us are having
meaningful interpretations of these things. Others of us are not. What’s the difference,
well, how you were prepared for this thing. You were prepared to look
at this by learning Spanish or not learning Spanish. So you don’t just encounter
forms naively or purely. You encounter through the grid that you, that has already been prepared in you in one way or another. He also moves on to neon [laughs], which at the time, I mean,
this is not an art object. This is not an art material at all. And he’s perfectly I think,
using all non-art materials, non-fine art materials. Neon lettering is, you
know, that’s associated with bars and things like that, not with fine art. He, and he takes them,
I think, specifically for that reason, and
creates these sentences that light up that are
self-descriptive, right? Self-interpreting, so to speak. Five words in green neon,
and those are all five ways or five words that are
referring to itself, but the reference is through language, so he kind of sets up
something that’s supposed to be self-referential and self-interpreting but of course it’s not self-interpreting and self-referential, right? Because you have to know English in order to make sense of them [laughs]. This wouldn’t be five words in green neon to everyone. But it is to you. So the thing always
points outside of itself and is supported by the
cultural structures around it. Neon electrical light English
glass letters pink eight. And the thing is that they’re not closed. I showed you five words in neon, here we get eight words in neon, and you could just keep
expanding the thing. The meaning of it and
the way we interpret it is never closed. Does that make sense? You could add to this, words. Words isn’t there. You have letters, but
you don’t have words. You could have syllables. You could have, I mean,
you could just keep adding this thing indefinitely. Adding to it somewhat indefinitely. It’s not easily closed. So, it’s never self-referential, and that’s one of the ways
he’s gonna take down formalism as being naive. And he does, he plays
around with definitions quite a bit. Is this an image, what more do you want. Isn’t this an image? There’s actually some
questions in this thing. Is this an image? And don’t we lose something by not having, this can’t do everything
that an image does, but he raises the question anyway, where is the image. Interesting that he uses a definition that has at the center of it
the image of God, imago. Art, what is art, where’s the art. And all of these, he’s gonna refer to and just title as Art as Idea as Idea. So the art as an idea
then becomes his idea, and he puts pressure on
that, how does that work, does that hold water. Okay, you get what he’s
doing, right, to some extent, and once again, the way
we started off today, we’ve got a few things in place that are common elements
of what he’s doing. He’s interrupting our expectations
for what art should be pretty radically. I mean, so much so, I mean,
he makes the most boring art he possibly can, right? And it’s boring not because it’s… Because there’s nothing
to think about in it, but it’s boring because he
withholds almost everything you expect from an artwork,
almost everything [laughs]. Except the questioning of
the art, of the object. He wants to kind of reconstruct artwork so that what you get
with it is questioning and thinking and not all
of those other things that have been traditionally
associated with artmaking, so it’s exceedingly boring
because he’s withholding and interrupting what we expect art to be. And in a way, it’s becoming,
it could be referred to as anti-aesthetic, sort
of anti-beauty, anti-skill, anti-formalism. Certainly anti-formalist. Other artists that we
wanna add to our discussion of conceptualism, John
Baldessari becomes very important at the same time. [laughs] I mean, a lot of these conceptualists for all of the really stuffy language, they’re actually really funny people, and the artwork is often
really funny, it has puns in it and the way they’re
interrupting what you expect is often kind of funny and Baldessari is certainly, has one of
the quickest wits, I think of all the conceptual artists. Who is this one addressed
to, do you think? Clement Greenberg, perhaps? [laughs] Everything is purged from
this painting but art. No ideas have entered into this work. It’s just a pure formal experience. Which, of course, it isn’t, and there’s no way to get
to purging of painting because painting itself is
already laden with ideas and already laden with
cultural associations. There’s no way to purge it. There’s no way to exclude ideas. Baldessari’s going to
become important to us later on, we’ll talk about
him more this afternoon, but to introduce you to
some of his early work. [laughing] I don’t know, I don’t, you know, what is Baldessari doing here? Is he doing the same thing
as Kosuth or in some ways is he disagreeing with Kosuth? Does this do it? Does this really get you to pure beauty? Seems to be something woefully lacking. Maybe you can’t just, maybe
it’s not just all in your head or at least maybe meaning
doesn’t just exist in ideas. Maybe the idea of pure
form, meaning existing just in the experience
of the form is naive, but it might be naive
in the other direction, to assert that meaning
is just in your head, just in language, and he starts drawing a lot of attention to the conventions of artmaking. What is painting? And he has these, sort of, quotes from the impassioned art professor, it’s what they kind of read like. Do you sense how all the
parts of a good picture are involved with each
other, not just placed side by side. Art is a creation for the
eye and only can be hinted at with words. [laughs] Which is all mediated through words. And so on. Exhibiting paintings, okay. The second conceptual
artist that we’ll focus on here in the the time
that’s left is Sol LeWitt. And LeWitt, um… Wrote, I gave you a very
well-known writing of his as your required reading
for today, one of them. And he wrote this essay called
Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, which curious that he
titles it paragraphs, and he draws so much
attention to, you know, I think if it was just
essay on conceptual art or just conceptual art, you
would just move into it. There’s something about
titling it paragraphs that’s sort of odd, isn’t it. Sort of, well, of course
they’re paragraphs. That’s what we expect to be
written in an art journal. And so he writes his paragraphs
on conceptual art in 1967. They are later distinguished from Sentences on Conceptual
Art that comes two years later and I gave those to you as well. And these are kind of
strange things, aren’t they. It’s a strange writing, yeah. First, you can date
Sol LeWitt around 1970. You could date him with
Kosuth in 65, but he’s really, he kind of comes into his
own more I think around 70. And this essay I wanna talk
through just a little bit because it might give us a few more cues for understanding what conceptual art is, because he’s devoted this
whole, all of these paragraphs to articulating what conceptual art is. And so what is it. He says this. In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. We’ve already heard that in
various ways from Kosuth. When an artist uses a
conceptual form of art, it means that all of the
planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine
that makes the art. What sense do you make of that? What does that mean? And is that any different from Kosuth. I mean sometimes we use the word concept of a concept for a painting or whatever or this work is conceptual,
just to refer to, oh, it has ideas, right? I’m interested in ideas, I like to think. In my artwork. I try to make work that
responds to philosophy and so I’ll call it
conceptual or it has concepts. LeWitt wants to point us in a
slightly different direction. He wants to use that
word more specifically for a method of making art, right? ‘Cause all work has ideas,
all art has concepts. I mean, that painting has
concepts in it and ideas. A painting of the Madonna and
child has lots of wonderful, heavy ideas in it and concepts, but what he’s referring to
here is a mode of making work because the icon of the Madonna and child, the way that its ideas or
its concepts are organized is pictorially and narratively
somewhat, iconographically. LeWitt has a different idea
for how artwork gets organized and he’s gonna call that idea conceptual, and what is conceptual, what
is the conceptual method, what is it? What’s conceptual art do? What’s it look like to make art if you’re a conceptual artist? Not just to have ideas but
to put all of your work and all of the meaning of the work, to have all of that rest on the planning that is made beforehand,
which makes the execution perfunctory, as he says. Irrelevant. Doesn’t matter if the
thing is made or not. If the art exists in the
meaningfulness of the concept, then you can have art without
having an object at all according to LeWitt, right? The art for him is a conception, an idea that is meaningful in one way or another, that is organized in such a way that once you have the idea in place, the artwork just is a
machine, so to speak, that the idea becomes a
machine that makes the art. It is a system, this is a
better way of saying it. The concept is a system
that you put in place, a meaningful system, and it’s the system that makes the artwork, not the artist. The artist conceives the system, and the system makes the artwork. Like a machine. And it doesn’t matter since
the art exists in the concept or in the system. It doesn’t matter if the
work gets made or not. Now what does this mean. I’ll show you some examples
of what LeWitt meant by this. This is called Wall Drawing #3 from 69, and it’s difficult to tell what it is, but what do you notice already, what do you notice about this thing from what you can tell so far? [student speaking away from microphone] Good, good. It’s a wall drawing drawn
directly onto the walls of the institution,
whatever the institution is, which means that it is
sort of forever attached to that place, and it has no existence outside of that place. The surface for his
work is the institution that it’s showing in. Okay, so he’s kind of taking
Duchamp a step further there. It’s not just setting up
an object to contemplate that refers to the institution,
but it becomes adhered to the institution itself [laughs], okay. And as a side note, that
means that if this is ever exhibited again, which
it has been, of course, it actually is being re-exhibited here, this is not the original
instillation of this. If it is ever re-exhibited
it takes a different shape in the new place. It occupies that space differently
than it did originally, which takes Kosuth’s idea that
the art is not in the object but somehow you can have different chairs, two totally different groups of objects and it’s the same work,
because it’s the same organizing system that the
artist has set into place, and that’s gonna be the case here. So what is the organizing system. It is this, it’s a set of instructions is the work. And here are the instructions. A 40 inch band of vertical
lines and both sets of diagonal lines superimposed,
centered top to bottom, between ceiling and floor,
running the length of the wall. That’s the artwork is
this set of instructions. And so if it gets made, it
doesn’t even have to get made by the artist [laughs]
for it to be his artwork. It, because what he makes is the system. He organizes the idea or the concept, and then it, that concept
becomes the system, the machine that makes the art. And so, this thing is going
to vary depending on the wall that you put it on, depending
on all sorts of circumstances because the instructions
don’t, they’re flexible to the space that you put
it in, relative to the space you put it in. Here’s another one called
Walled Drawing #9 A and B, and here’s the artwork here,
and when you by this artwork, you get a certificate that says this. Two part serial drawing. The wall, a rectangle,
is divided vertically or horizontally into two parts. One part with vertical and
horizontal lines superimposed, the other part with diagonal left and diagonal right lines superimposed. First drawn by Sol LeWitt and
others, first instillation, L’Attico gallery in Rome, Italy, May 1969. That’s the certificate,
that’s the artwork. And that’s where the artwork
resides is in the concept, in the idea that can make multiple things. And the thing is that
anytime it’s installed, it has to take on different forms. It inevitably takes on different forms. So in one institution, it looks like this. In another, it ends up looking like this, and this is still within the
bounds of his instructions. Two panels, a wall, a
rectangle is divided vertically or horizontally into two parts. I mean, it doesn’t say anything that, by dividing the way that
actually doesn’t mean, literally changing directions of the wall, and what that does is it foregrounds the interpretive process
that’s involved in the artwork. The thing that comes
out has been interpreted by other people, and… Viewing it then is a
process of interpretation. And there are lots of these. Within an 80 inch square,
10,00 straight lines. Next to it is an 80 inch square with 10,000 not straight lines. Can you imagine what that would be. Whatever your imagining
right now is your way of interpreting his idea, his concept, the system that he, the
organizational system, it’s a compositional system, and all artwork has some sort
of compositional system to it. He creates a compositional system. You have to interpret it, and
whatever you’re interpreting right now is the artwork [laughs], right? You as the interpreter
are doing the artwork, not just him, so that’s
why he says perfunctory, whether this is made or
not, because it’s made, it’s made in you, it’s
made in the interpretation. I saw this at MOCA a few years ago. It’s actually remarkably beautiful the way they interpret it. It was remarkably beautiful. 10,000 straight lines on one
and 10,000 not straight lines on the other, they were like, ah. Forcefields, but organized in
two totally different ways. And it’s the organizing system that seems to be the point here. Let me show you one more of his works. And you can’t see this so much, but some of his instructions
are written, text, and some of them are a
combination of written text and parts or pieces that
have to be combined. So if you can’t read that,
here’s what the instructions say. All combinations of two crossing lines, of two lines crossing,
placed at random using arcs from corners and arcs from sides, so those are, arcs from the
corners are the first one, arcs from the sides, the second one, straight lines, third, not
straight lines, the fourth one, and then broken lines. So basically what he gives
you is an alphabet, right? It’s a certain visual grammar
and you’re supposed to put it together using this grammar in all combinations. You’re supposed to come
up with all combinations of this thing on the walls of the gallery, and when that happens it
looks some thing like this. Ah, you can’t really see it all that well, but they basically, he
goes on to later specify, you draw a grid, a three foot grid, and you put two of those
lines in each of those grids until you have all of those combinations, you’ve combined all whatever it is, 16 or 20 of those grammatical pieces into all possible combinations. [laughs] And so there’s a tight,
organizing system to the thing that allows for lots of
variation into how this system looks in the end, what it creates. So, where’s the meaning of this work, how do you interpret this work? How do you make sense of it? Not just by its visual effect, clearly, even though it is all of
the language of minimalism. It allows for lots of variation. It doesn’t say anything
about color, just those lines on a wall in every possible combination, and they create different
patterns, grids appear, waves appear. I found this one guy online
who sort of digitally did a few of these different combinations, but it’s the same ordering structure that underlies the whole
thing with lots of variety in its output. And what this essentially does, I think, is it puts, it thinks about
art as a language system. This is the basic grammar of an artwork that he puts into place, and
he gives you certain rules to follow, grammatical rules to follow, and then you start, whoever exhibits it, starts speaking and making
sense with this language using this grammar. And LeWitt says as much about the grammar. And foregrounds the plan,
the use of the plan in this. Where’s the artwork, it’s in the planning. The plan would design the work. There’s no expressionism here. Some plans would require
millions of variations and some a limited number,
in each cases, however, the artist would select the basic form and rules that would govern
the solution to the problem. That is the conceptual
strategy in a nutshell, that right there. The artist constructs a plan,
basic forms, basic rules that govern the solution to the problem. At this point, it’s really really dry, but we have to understand
this because it will shape the working model for
the next several decades of art-making, and it
will be this strategy, but then turned towards different things. Like politics, identity, turned towards various social situations, emotional situations even. Things will start to become awfully poetic with regards to this. For now, it’s dry, but this
is the conceptually model or the conceptually system
that really sets the course for a lot of artmaking from here on out for the rest of the semester. When an artist uses a
multiple modular method, and that’s what he refers,
that’s what he’s referring to is this strategy you’ve been looking at. He usually chooses a simple
and readily available form, the form itself is of
very limited importance. It’s anti-formalist here. It becomes the grammar for the total work. The reason that this method is important is because it lays out a
new way of making meaning in a work. It lays out new ways of making work. I mean, this is making work sort of like you haven’t seen before. It’s very odd, I mean, it’s very different in contrast to historical artmaking. But along with that
different way of making work is a different way of
making sense of the work. How do you interpret a Sol LeWitt? By stepping back quite
a bit intellectually and not so much being hung up
on how beautiful the forms are how visually interesting they are, though that’s of some interest, but rather you step back,
and you start thinking about the way that grammar,
the different grammatical rules that are always shaping
what we expect art to be and are shaping the ways
that we live our lives. Does that make sense? How do you interpret a Sol LeWitt? By paying attention to the whole operation of grammar and rules in our lives. I think, but that’s a really different way of making sense of artwork. There’s no narrative to read,
there’s no extraordinary visual pleasure to read into or skill. I mean, he displaces the
skill of the artist entirely, having other people do
it for him [laughs]. He displaces the object
that can be bought and sold by collectors and museums. He displaces all of that, so you can’t read into all of that. Instead you read into the
concept that is driving the work, the concept that generates the work. And… Just to round this out, one other artist that you can be aware of, though you don’t have to memorize him, is Lawrence Weiner, and
Lawrence Weiner would take these kind of, he would take this idea of a concept, if concept is the artwork and it doesn’t matter whether
the artwork is made or not, he just takes the concept
and just presents it in language and most
of them never get made. And he just writes them on the walls and you have interesting
encounters with them. A cup of seawater poured upon the floor. I mean, that is kind of a
provocative image, I suppose. Poetic image, I guess. A square removal from
a rug in use [laughs]. I mean, is this enough, is this enough. [laughing] I mean, he seems to call
into question how language is working in the art. As far as the eye can see. That conjures up so many associations. German Romantic painting,
as far as they eye can see. The unexplored wild west extends
as far as the eye can see. Shopping malls extend as
far as the eye can see. And that text written
on that wall is as far as the eye can see, when
you’re standing in this room. [laughs] It sort of plays in so
many different ways. And is that play the artwork,
all of those associations that come to mind, is that the artwork? Is that enough. Rubber ball thrown on the sea. I mean, they become really
poetic in a way, right? And they become open ended in the way that they take on lots of associations. I mean, one thinks of isolation, a rubber bal thrown on the sea. One thinks of a child losing that ball as it goes out into the sea. One thinks of the castaway. I mean, you know, all these
things that gather around these words and is that gathering always what artwork has done, and is it enough to just put a phrase on a wall and have that gathering take place. I don’t know if Weiner is suggesting that or if he is asserting that that’s enough. Is he questioning Kosuth and et cetera, or is he asserting it. Alright, we’ll take one
question and then go to lunch.>>Audience Member: Did they
think about typography at all when they were making these?>>That’s a great question! Typography! I mean, what do you think?’ What do you think about the
type that has been used? What kind of type is it?>>Audience Member: Well,
we learned that when you use all caps it’s typically
really easy to read or something that you want to use–>>Uh, uh huh.>>Audience Member: A large amount? So I almost thing, if they did study it, I almost think it’s
going against the grain of what you were saying
because then that’s kind of a whole other art in itself.>>Yeah, or at least a whole
other group of associations, and he wouldn’t have a problem with that. That you read this, if you
write something in all caps, you’re either yelling or you’re yelling through text message or something or you’re pronouncing something, this is important or your titling
it or something like that. And then the whole typography thing. I mean, I think that is
an interesting question, where does this typeface come from? It references something. It references. It’s not in Courier. It’s not in New Times Roman. It’s a specific type that we associate with perhaps advertising or
posters or something like that. And that grouping and collecting
of associations, I think, is fine and I hadn’t thought
about the typography here before, that’s great.>>Audience Member: I’m
in that class right now.>>[laughs] Yeah, that’s great. I mean, he does experiment. I don’t want to show you any more, but he does experiment
with type a little bit, and he’s got quite a variety
of type that he uses, and that seems to be important to him.>>Announcer: Biola
University offers a variety of Biblically-centered degree programs ranging from business to ministry
to the arts and sciences. Visit biola.edu to find out how Biola could make a difference in your life.

local_offerevent_note October 12, 2019

account_box Matthew Anderson


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27 thoughts on “[ARTS 315] Conceptual Art: New Strategies for Meaning – Jon Anderson”

  • What I get from Duchamp is much simpler. He was saying (with his art) to the elites of the art world, "No, it's not only you who determine what constitutes art! Every artist does so as well. Get used to it.".

  • This guy is the cutest art history professor I have ever seen — and he's SO into what he's talking about. I wish I'd have had a teacher like him for contemporary art history classes.

  • I think there's some truth to what you say. But when you see how influential he has been to contempoirary art, it is obvious that he said much more than that. He questioned art itself. His art is still elitist in a way, don't you think?

  • Maybe, but I see it more as a rebellion against what I call the "ArtSpeak" world—the academic art world that pooh-poohs a simple, universal truth: beauty (or Art) is in the eye of the beholder…100%. There are no "standards" or "rules" because those are only the formal opinions of the academics.

  • This is is the clearest, most articulate, most all-encompassing expression of Conceptual Art I have ever heard. Way to go, Jon Anderson! You really know your stuff. I'm impressed.

  • Why is conceptual art so difficult to define?

    What is Jon Anderson’s definition?

    How, after Conceptualism, is “art” defined?

    What now is the function of art?

    What is the strategy (or strategies) used?

    What now is the job and importance of the artist?

    Why does Joseph Kosuth use a photograph rather than a drawing?

    What do Conceptualists (especially Sol Lewitt) think art is, what does it function like (one word answer)?

  • But isn't LeWitt only placing boundaries on what can be made? Is this like saying the limitations are the art? While it may be a description of the fundamentals of any system or organization, is this necessarily art? Do we want to pay that much attention to it given our limited life spans? Is this the deepest mine to dig for meaning?

  • How on earth can anyone sit through 90 minutes of this? I teach Modernism in art history and I am already lost in references to this that and the other thing with no idea what this person is actually talking about.

  • Holy fuck this lecture is so good. What an amazing presentation. He seems so comfortable talking, makes for really good listening

  • I've been searching for so long to find someone trying to dig deep into these "works of art". I finally found it. And it's ridiculous as I thought it'd be.

  • Conseptual art is the art of nada, the Queen is not dead the painter is not stupid.
    What you call art locks man in his oun mind away from GOD and nature and his fellow man, it shuts off reasoning and leaves you in a empty nada state of mind a mental waste land of aesthetic madness.
    The personality is as shallow as the work its self if you can call it art work, anymore then you can call rap music.
    Art is not above a mans understanding then any other fact of life or its not art, its a fraud , its nada.

  • No mentionning of Margritte's painting, The treachery of images made decades before the Kosuth? Strange certainly in a course focussing in the end strongly on the meaning of language vs the object, reality, exc.

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