conceptual art, art movement that began in the 1960s and stresses the artist's concept rather than the art object itself. Growing out of minimalism, conceptual art turned the artist's thoughts and ideas themselves into the primary artistic medium, appealing to the spectator's intellect instead of emotions. The movement also was in reaction to what many artists considered the overcommercialization of art objects in the moneyed world of art galleries and museums. At times in conceptual art, the tangible work of art is no longer present at all, but consists of a set of instructions, texts, notes, diagrams, or other kinds of documentation. In other cases, an image may be present, but the idea behind it is of greater importance than its execution or physical manifestation.
The term "concept art" first appeared (1961) in a publication by Fluxus, an avant-garde art group, and conceptual art was defined at length (1967) in an article by Sol LeWitt, one of the movement's best-known adherents. Among the other artists associated with the movement are Joseph Kosuth, Bruce Nauman, Robert Morris, and members of Britain's Art and Language movement. The ideas that fueled the conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 70s continued to influence and animate the work of many artists of the late 20th and early 21st cents. See also contemporary art.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.