Compared to other neo-avant-garde movements that emerged during the 1960s, conceptual art is conspicuous by virtue of the lack of serious discussion by art historians and critics over the last two decades. This gap in the reception is particularly ironic given the tremendous influence conceptual art has had on subsequent artistic developments, on the critical discussion surrounding the concept of postmodernism, and on the recognition and use, more generally, of various forms of theory by artists, curators, critics, and historians.
Alexander Alberro, and Blake Stimson, eds. Conceptual art: a critical anthology. MIT Press, 2000: preface.
Well sure, my sculptures are floor pieces. Each one, like any area on the surface of the earth,, supports a column of air that weighs – what is it? – 14.7 pounds per square inch. So in a sense, that might represent a column. It’s not an idea, it’s a sense of something you know, a demarked place. Somehow I think I always thought of it going that way, rather than an idea of a narrowing triangle going to the center of the earth... I have nothing to do with conceptual art. I’m not interested in ideas. If I were interested in ideas, I’d be in a field where what we think in is ideas... I don’t really know what an idea is. One thing for me is that if I can frame something in language, I would never make art out of it. I make art out of things which cannot be framed in any other way. (December 1969, talking with the audience)
Let us consider two important factors, the two poles of the creation of art: the artist on one hand, and on the other the spectator who later becomes the posterity; to all appearances the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.
Marcel Duchamp, 'The Creative Act', 1957, Duchamp’s lecture in Houston, April 1957, in Art News, 56. no. 4, Summer 1957, p. 28 –29.
Concept art is first of all an art of which the material is concepts, as the material of e.g. music is sound. Since concepts are closely bound up with language, concept art is a kind of art of which the material is language.
Henry Flynt, "Essay: Concept Art." (1961) In: La Monte Young (ed.) An Anthology, 1963.
Great art – or good art – is when you look at it, experience it and it stays in your mind. I don't think conceptual art and traditional art are all that different. There's boring conceptual art and there's boring traditional art. Great art is if you can't stop thinking about it, then it becomes a memory.
The main qualifications to the lesser position of painting is that advances in art are certainly not always formal ones.
Donald Judd (1963), as quoted in: Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson (1999) Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. p. 193.
The main virtue of geometric shapes is that they aren't organic, as all art otherwise is. A form that's neither geometric or organic would be a great discovery.
Donald Judd (1967), quoted in: Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson (1999) Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. p. 204.
I don't know if I'm making myself clear, but if I were to accept this business of conceptual art I would have no reason to exist.
Jannis Kounellis Quoted in Kristine Stiles & Peter Howard Selz: Theories and documents of contemporary art (1996) P.671.
The general ignorance of the visual arts, especially their theoretical bases, deplorable even in the so-called intellectual world; the artist’s well-founded despair of ever reaching the mythical “masses” with “advanced art”; the resulting ghetto mentality predominant in the narrow and incestuous art world itself, with its resentful reliance on a very small group of dealers, curators, critics, editors, and collectors who are all too frequently and often unknowingly bound by invisible apron strings to the “real world’s” power structure—all of these factors may make it unlikely that conceptual art will be any better equipped to affect the world any differently than, or even as much as, its less ephemeral counterparts.
Conceptual Art in the broadest sense was a kind of laboratory for innovations in the rest of the century. An unconscious international energy emerged from the raw materials of friendship, art history, interdisciplinary readings and a fervor to change the world and the ways artists related to it.
We are still spellbound by a tradition that arranged psychological faculties hierarchically, relegating ‘sensuousness’ — that is, perception — to a lower position in comparison to higher, reflective functions of reason and understanding. The most advanced versions of ‘conceptual art’ still follow this tradition. By refusing to base themselves in sensuously perceptible distinctions between works of art and other objects, these works seek to avoid reducing art to the realm of sense perception.
Niklas Luhmann, Eva M. Knodt (trans.) (2000) Art As a Social System Stanford University Press, p. 5.
Conceptual Art is a sounding instrument between printed words, luminous writings, and letters scrawled in a hasty nervous instinctive calligraphy.
Mario Merz Quoted in Kristine Stiles & Peter Howard Selz: Theories and documents of contemporary art (1996), p. 671.
By adopting language as their exclusive medium, Weiner, Barry, Wilson, Kosuth and Art & Language were able to sweep aside the vestiges of authorial presence manifested by formal invention and the handling of materials
Anne Rorimer, New Art in the Sixties and Seventies, Thames & Hudson, 2001. p. 76
Not only were the minds of artists formed by the university; in the same mold were formed those of the art historians, the critics, the curators, and the collectors by whom their work was evaluated. With the rise of Conceptual art, the classroom announced its final triumph over the studio.
Harold RosenbergArt & Other Serious Matters, (1985) pp. 247-248, "American Drawing"
After a few months in my parents' basement, I took an apartment near the state university, where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things are dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations.
Conceptual art, more than all previous types of art, questions the fundamental nature of art. Unhappily, the question is strictly limited to the exclusive domain of fine art. There is still potential of it enabling an examination of all that surrounds art, but in reality, conceptual artists are dedicated only to exploring avant-garde aesthetic problems.
Seth Siegelaub in Siegelaub and Michel Claura, “L’art conceptual” (1973); translated and cited in: Blake Stimson, "The promise of conceptual art." Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (1999).
If we are the best, it is only fair that they imitate us.
Frank Stella In: Alexander Alberro, Blake Stimson (1999) Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. p. 227.
I do not mind objects, but I do not care to make them.
In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work . . . all planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.
In conceptual art the idea or the concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. This kind of art is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive; it is involved with all types of mental processes and it is purposeless. It is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman.
Sol LeWitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art", Artlorum, V/10, Summer 1967, p. 80. Cited in: Diane Waldman. Carl Andre. Published 1970 by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. p. 7.
Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.