Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Genres: Response to History of Conceptual Art

In the previous class we had a fantastic lecture that covered a wide range of artists and their work. The slide show started with Marcel Duchamp and ended in the 70s. I was glad to recognize many of these artists or works from taking Contemporary Art History last year, but I think that this overview gave me a much more complete sense of what Conceptual Art really is and how it came to be.
In many ways I see how irritating Conceptual Art is. Most people can immediately come to the conclusion that "I could do that," or "Well, that's just dumb and doesn't make any sense" or question its purpose or right to be housed in any museum. And while I think these are perfectly valid and common responses to much of Conceptual Art, I think it is equally valid to accept each work as acceptable expressions that can be described as works of art.
Personally, I like Conceptual Art a little more than I am inclined to dislike it. After seeing galleries and galleries of beautiful renditions of landscape, portraits and bowels of fruit, I must admit to a certain questioning hope that there might be something that makes me really think about what the artist is doing and why. There is something truly wonderful about really experiencing something creative in conception and construction. I think that the main purpose for this genre of art is to really push the boundaries of definition and what had been previously understood as art and making these things stretch into something new to work with.
I generally lean towards conceptual works of art that are more of installation or land art. I think this because it makes you question the world around you as being beautiful and interesting. I think in many ways just by being well thought out in concept and created with purpose and success in imparting that concept automatically makes it art.
One of my favorite pieces of Conceptual Art that we saw during class was the 4' 33" by John Cage. The score was preformed by an entire orchestra that is instructed to not play during the piece which lasts four minutes and thirty three seconds. The purpose of this piece is to listen to all of the environmental sounds the audience would hear while it is preformed. It really made me consider surroundings and place not only of those in the recorded audience, but also that of which I was actually in as a student in a classroom and the sounds that were in that space. It was a very interesting work for its meditative quality and the idea of getting an entire orchestra together to do the work was fantastic. While 4'33" is by no means traditional art, I still appreciate it for its concept and creation and therefore can still deem it as being art.

1 comment:

  1. Corinna, I like your thoughts on 4'33". I must say, I was not impressed with it. Although as I think back now, I think it was a terribly clever way of making people listen. Considering his goal was to make people listen, why not have a setting where people come to listen. If you have a willing audience, his work is much more effective. I can imagine sitting in the audience (not knowing that I was about to have a concert of silence) and just thinking "How awkward! I don't want to be the one to break the silence by having to cough or whatever..!" I think it really makes some people seriously uncomfortable and that may be one of the points of it... Oh art.