Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Conceptual Art and Other Modern Art Movements

What is conceptual art?

Conceptual art had existed in various forms for decades, but solidified into a major movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Inspired greatly by Dada and the art of Marcel Duchamp, conceptual art is concerned with the intellectual process of art. The artist Sol LeWitt’s 1967 article, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” did much to explain the foundations of the movement: an idea alone can be a work of art.

Conceptual art is extremely diverse and a large number of international artists are associated with it. Conceptual art can be anything from written documents to photographs, videos to performances. The work of Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924–1976) is a good example of conceptual art. Broodthaers was a writer, filmmaker, and visual artist. Perhaps his most celebrated piece, Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles (Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles) (1968), was an installation at his home in Brussels that described a completely fictitious museum. Besides the fact that Broodthaer’s created posters, descriptions, and signs— the museum did not exist. The central idea of this piece was to question the authority of the museum as an institution. Conceptual art continues to be a major part of contemporary art today.


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