Speaking Through Silence:
Conceptual Art and
Does conceptual art raise a distinctive problem for philosophical aesthetics? Many have thought so. There is thought to be a tension, if not downright contradiction, between the notion of art that seemed viable before the turn to the conceptual, and the works to which that development gave birth. My first task is to attempt to focus this tension. I will not be directly concerned with the question of what defines conceptual art. No doubt the question of what is distinctively problematic about that art cannot be separated entirely from the question of its nature. However, to the extent that the two can be kept apart, it is the former that will concern me.
A useful starting point is the idea that conceptual art is distinctive in not speaking to the senses. Let us, broadly following James Shelley,1 begin to capture this idea with the following principle:
1 James Shelley, 'The Problem of Non-Perceptual Art', British Journal of Aesthetics 43/4 (2003):