My theme for tonight’s blog is to explain what “conceptual art” is and what it’s not. The basic definition is that conceptual art is art that uses an artistic concept that may be unfamiliar to the viewer. Conceptual art does not mean to be uninformed or to be uneducated in art. “Conceptual art” is not limited to art that makes a statement. It’s a broad term that can be used for anything that makes an artistic statement about an art movement, an event, or a social or cultural phenomenon.
It’s no exaggeration to say that conceptual art is the most powerful force in art today. Go to any museum in the world today and look around. Do you see Picasso? How about Kandinsky? How about any work by Vermeer? See the difference? Conceptual Art is all over our culture today. Conceptual Art is art that uses any number of artistic concepts to express a very deep and very human human message. It is art that communicates. Conceptual art inspires and it teaches.
When we see a painting or a sculpture in a museum, we are seeing the combined efforts of a dozen different artists and this is what makes art so special. It is not one person’s vision. It is many different people’s visions combined to form a very strong, powerful work of art that represents something very important in our society today. A good example of a conceptual work of art is Banksy. When you look at his work, you’ll know it’s conceptual art because it seems to have nothing to do with any specific subject matter, period, or location. Banksy has one specific target audience – teenagers, the young at heart, the bored, and those who are in need of a good laugh. But Banksy’s real power comes from the fact that he understands the power of the audience in art. He understands that when you take a photograph and frame it, you are fundamentally changing the audience’s perspective. He knows that when you take a painting and hang it on a wall, it is not you, the viewer, who makes the painting what it is.