Georgian (Georgia)English (United Kingdom)
Conceptual Art (Theory, Practice, Criticism)

Natia Ebanoidze
George Chubinashvili National Research Centre
for Georgian Art History and Heritage Preservation


“All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually”-stated Joseph Kosuth in his essay “Art after Philosophy” (1969). This idea suggested a completely different interpretation as opposed to modernist conception of art as universal and aesthetically valued phenomenon.
The formation of conceptual art as an important and internally complicated artistic practice in western world, in the late 1960s, was related to the crisis of modernist culture. It was a reaction against visual formalism. Works of art started to be conceived as signs conveying ideas and symbols or representatives of things, as mediums, not the ends in themselves (unlike Ad Reinhardt’s reduction of art to its essential position: “art as art”). Suggesting that art can function as a language (in contrast to Greenbergian modernism where art functions in relation to a particular medium) contrasts with principals of traditional aesthetics. The new approach refused a medium as well as visual formalism and was against the ideas of materiality and autonomy of art. Conceptual artists and its theorists discussed and practiced art in close relation to science and philosophy (J. Kosuth, B. Venet, H. Flynt etc.). The issues like interrelation of art and other cultural forms and the definition of art as a method to investigate its own nature (systems of “internal critic”) gained a great importance.
The questioning of traditionally accepted issues and art in general, resulted in demystification, demythologization and deconstruction processes in the work of several artists (such as: Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Lawrence Weiner, Antoni Muntadas etc.). Their work could only be acceptable and understandable considering the new discourse: changed criterions from appearance to conception and language.
Some critics argue that conceptual art failed to create tangible criteria and firm methodology and consider it “unfinished project”. Nevertheless, the movements connected to conceptual art proved to have had a great importance in the paradigmatic shift on the certain stage in art history.
The article aims at presenting the phenomenon in the historical as well as practical and critical perspectives.

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