Conceptual art was all about free thinking. The belief was that the power of art is behind the thinking not
necessarily the finished article. This evolved into a way of thinking that emphasised the free thinking of art
and to look everywhere and anywhere for ideas. In conceptual art, any idea is a good idea.
Conceptual Art became a major modern art/contemporary art movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
Marcel Duchamp championed this way of artistic thinking way back in 1910. He was a great believer in
understanding that art was about free and creative artistic thought and that the necessary motor skills that
are needed to connect the brain to the hand and then to the paint brush are not needed in order to create
master pieces. This idealism lead to creating master pieces that may not look pretty or experience good
technical work but have a quality and creative thought process, meaning and philosophy behind the finished
article that creates the masterpiece through idea and theory as opposed to visual splendour.
A great example of early conceptual art that conveys the ideas outlined above is Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain'.
The idea that art could take any form shocked the art world and created divisions of highly insulted art
spectators and highly inspired spectators and artists.
The term 'Conceptual art' wasn't coined until the 1950s. The term 'conceptual art' was first used by Edward
An example of conceptual art from the height of the modern art movement is Joseph Kosuth's 'One and Three
Chairs' (1965). The exhibit includes a picture of a chair, an enlarged dictionary definition of the word 'chair' and
a real chair. The picture of the chair is the same size as the real chair. The concept behind the exhibit is the
relationship between language, picture and referent.
Conceptual Art was one of the largest and quickly undertaken movements in the 20th century. Great numbers
of exhibits exist as a consequence of the conceptual art movement.
Other conceptual artists that deserve recognition are Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Burden, Mel Bochner,
Below are the artists that invented and pioneered Conceptual Art. Please click on their names to find out information about each artist:
To find out about the other major pioneering artists that contributed to the Conceptual art movement please click on their names below: