Author(s): Tony Godfrey
Covering the entire 20th century, this text traces the roots of conceptual art to movements such as Dada, explaining its importance in the 1960s and 1970s and showing that it is still alive today.
In 1917 Marcel Duchamp signed the name R. Mutt on a urinal and placed it in a gallery. Even the most strident modernists refused to accept this object as a work of art, however, Duchamp stuck to his guns, claiming that he had chosen the urinal as an art object so it must be art.
Such arguments over the nature of art still continue today.
Tony Godfrey sees the archetypal work of Conceptual Art as a question and a proposition joined together: "What is Art? This could be Art."
This text seeks to demystify the subject by placing the art in its social and political context.
Introduction - what is Conceptual Art?; early modernism - anti-art gestures; the post-war period - alternatives to painting; false, radical and obdurate - realities in the early sixties; who were the brain police? - six types of Conceptual Art; crises of authority - the dominance of Conceptual Art; the end? - the decline or diaspora of Conceptual Art; "Are you Boring or Are you Angry?" - artists using photography; the name on the door - artists using words since 1980; who are the style police? - Conceptual Art Today.