Conceptual art


The conceptual art can be, and actually may seem almost anything. This is mainly because, unlike a painter or sculptor who always thinks of the best way to express his idea through painting or sculptural materials and techniques , a conceptual artist uses whatever material and the most suitable form to convey your idea.


What is conceptual art?

Conceptual art is considered as an artistic creation by means of which a way is sought to externalize the concept of the work while maintaining the aesthetics without there being a specific artistic elaboration.


What does it consist of

The conceptual art movement is probably one of the most radical and controversial types of art in modern and contemporary art . Some artists, experts, and art historians even dismiss it as art. Conceptual art is based on the idea that says that the essence of art is an idea or concept , and that it can exist in different ways and in the absence of an object as its representation. Some conceptual artists believe that art is created by the viewer , not by the artist or the artwork itself.


Conceptual art is also known as information art , software art or idea art and it can also be said that it consists of artistic creation in which the most important thing is the concept of the work. It is an art that seeks to maintain the aesthetic experience without artistic elaboration, the plastic value of objects, information and knowledge based on the conceptual content developed.

Characteristics of concept art

Among the main characteristics of conceptual art we mention the following:

  • Since ideas and concepts are the main feature of art, aesthetics and material concerns play a secondary role in conceptual art.
  • The themes of conceptual art can be dedicated to exploring , witnessing , questioning , criticizing or denouncing the current reality of the social, political or economic environment.
  • It uses irony , satire or controversy in its form of manifestation, seeking reflection and reading of the artistic concept.
  • The material presence of the work is reduced , which is known as dematerialization of art, and this is one of the main characteristics.
  • It was born as a reaction against the principles of formalism .
  • Concept art is a very broad term and includes various artistic practices


The origin of conceptual art lies in the sixties , and it was born as a vindication against the formalism movement . Many experts and historians agree that it was born with Ready-made, that an idea developed by Marcel Duchamp , an idea that managed to create a new technique for different works of art.


Although the term conceptual art was used in the early 1960s , it was not until the late 1960s that conceptual art emerged as a better defined movement . It was through a group of artists originating in the United States that conceptual art achieved greater and greater acceptance . It is believed that began as an opposition to the War in Vietnam , the feminism , for the establishment of the economy of the knowledge , and some other concepts more. The main context that exists about this type of art comes from the United States and Europe mainly after the end of the Second World War.

Types of Concept Art

There are different types of conceptual art among which we can mention:

  • Video-art : through it it was possible to express ideas and concepts with a full artistic sense regardless of the quality of the recording . It was also related to other conceptual media such as installation or performance .
  • Installation: these  were the manifestations that were part of a space through non-traditional means in art, which could be physical , sound , light , or interactive .
  • Performance : it was expressed through the body without resorting to traditional stage manifestations . Some of his genres are Happening, Flashmob, Body Art, Sniggling, etc.
  • Art-object:  it belongs to the group of works that are constructed through modification of objects and materials without the need for traditional media. The works are represented as sculptural pieces , statues or figures .
  • Ready-made : collected and presented any type of non-artistic objects found, turning them into works with an artistic sense .
  • Alternative Graphics and Collage : uses various printed media combined with other materials to give body to the works, through newspaper , magazine or photo clippings forming collages, paintings or even artist’s books
  • Conceptual photography : form a narrative of an idea or concept in the full artistic sense.
  • The fluxus : it is a style related to music , literature and the visual arts . Its peak was in the 1970s and it spread from Mexico , Europe, Japan and the United States.
  • Mail art : mail art or Mail Art , this was also a universal movement of communication and exchange by means of a postcard .


Among the trends that are presented today and that derive from conceptual art, mention should be made of body art in which the artist investigates his body as a means of expressive art; the land art or art of the land that is related to nature and that seeks to express the damage that man causes to the environment; the Yves Klein, who actually was an artist of French origin that has been considered com one of the most important figures in the movement.

Concept art in the world


In this country, conceptual art is also known as idea art . Its main modality is the idea that artists have of giving a place to the work of art and there were many artists who have practiced this type of art, mainly in the sixties .


In Spain, conceptual art appeared at the end of the sixties with different types of manifestations and its main idea was to demonstrate that the work of art was not a physical object made by the artist, but rather concepts and ideas .


Conceptual art in this country seeks to use more criticism and rhetoric and stop using objects as banal icons . He specializes mainly in the use of the ready-made or functional objects, by found objects and by assemblages.


The main representatives of conceptual art were the following:

  • Marcel Duchamp
  • Joseph Kosuth
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Yves klein
  • Piero Manzoni


Some of the most recognized works of conceptual art have been:

  • The Bicycle Wheel , a work that involves an inverted bicycle wheel which is supported on a wooden bench.
  • La Fuente , a male urinal inverted 90º from its original position.
  • Una y tres Sillas , a work in which a folding wooden chair was represented in the middle, a photograph of it on one side, and the definition of the word chair on the other.
  • Aerostatic Sculpture, a work made up of 1,001 blue balloons that were launched into the air from the Parisian gallery Iris Clert.
  • Merda d’artista ( Artist’s shit) is without going any further the title of one of his most controversial works by the artist Piero Manzoni, exhibited in 1961 at the Pescetto Gallery.

Other examples

  • Kooning Drawing Erased
  • The theater is on the street
  • One Step to the Void
  • Iron courtain
  • The Base of the World

Concept art books

Some books that have been written based on conceptual art are the following:

  • Conceptual Art by Daniel Marzona
  • Henry Flynt Concept Art
  • Grapefruit : A Book of Instructions and Drawings by Yoko Ono.


Concept art is important because it is a representation of self-reflection and self- criticism regarding modern art . It has been a method for artists to abandon the traditional media that are generally used to create art, giving way to new , bolder and more voluminous currents.

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