Academic journal article Afterimage

Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity

Academic journal article Afterimage

Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity

Article excerpt

Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity

by Alexander Alberro

MIT Press, 2003/288 pp./$35.00 (hb).

Conceptual artist Mel Ramsden called conceptual art, "... modernism's nervous breakdown." After nearly forty years critics and artists are still defining conceptual art, even as it has since been assimilated by succeeding artists. Art historian Alexander Alberro provides the context, influences and legacy of conceptual art through the person of art dealer/curator/consultant Seth Siegelaub, whom he describes as a co-founder of the movement. Several shows Siegelaub arranged are illustrated in abundant detail, including their contents and creations, within the context of trends and influences in the art world.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Conceptual artists closely associated with Siegelaub, among them Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Douglas Huebler, altered the form of art from object to concept, and challenged the prevailing values and strictures, seeking to democratize art and free it from its dependence on the marketplace, paralleling the radical social movements of the 60s. At the same time, paradoxically, these artists cultivated a strong public persona, providing the moneyed elite a reason to buy cutting-edge work.

Siegelaub's work with conceptual artists challenged the relationship between artist and art industry. Siegelaub used advertising and mass media to make the art available universally, freed from the confines of museums and galleries. He explained, "You don't need walls to show ideas." The publicity surrounding a show of conceptual art was defined by Siegelaub as "primary information" about the works. …

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