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Conceptual Art    Period: 1964 - present

If Conceptual art is just that -- conceptual -- can it be described by how it looks? Which is to say, does Conceptual art have an aesthetic? It seems counter-intuitive, if not contradictory, to think about the work of Joseph Kosuth, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, and Mel Bochner, work whose basis seems to be the dematerialization of the art-object -- an art based in ideas rather than forms - as having an aesthetic (other than one of absence). The remains of Conceptual art, the leftover after the event or idea has expired, amounts to a pile of documents: written proposals, photographs, movies, letters, order forms, invoices, audio and video tapes. Doesn't this collection of relics itself have an aesthetic? It bears the "look" of history, of the archive, a conglomerate of clues that never completely add up. Is the look of Conceptual art, then, the look of the archive? Or are we asking the wrong question all together. The new question might be: need art look like anything at all? Can't it just be -- even as immaterial?

 

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