Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology



Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology
These two compilations, one a show catalog, the other an anthology of artists' writings, review one of the most contested movements in 20th-century art. While the editors may quibble over certain key points A such as the founding moment of conceptualism A their works largely complement rather than contradict each other. In Conceptual Art, art history professors Alberro and Stimson present a rich history of the American branch through the writings of Joseph Kosuth, Lucy Lippard, the Art & Language collective, and dozens of others. The editors' selections concentrate on the manifestos and critiques produced during the movement's formative years from 1966 to 1977Ain fact, they seem to regard later artists as impure hangers-onAbut they also have included memoirs and a few retrospective histories. In addition, two introductions trace the movement's history and analyze the true aims of the adherents. Reading these primary texts is essential to understanding such an intellectually grounded movement; one only hopes a more affordable paperback will be issued for students. The catalog to a show that will be moving from New York to Minneapolis and Miami, Global Conceptualism aims to broaden our understanding of conceptual art by showing its varied manifestations in different cultures at different times. The show's organizers are careful to indicate that these manifestations are not necessarily part of a cohesive whole, intimating instead that conceptualism is a logical response to certain political conditions that have reappeared in various places. Reinforcing this basic understanding, the book presents 11 geographically oriented essays. The pieces are always informative, but their parameters vary widely, and the quality of the writing is rather uneven. These are supplemented by 70 pages of plates, a chronology, and brief biographies of the artists. Neither book is for the uninitiated, thanks largely to the complexity of the subject matter, but they are both clear and unique contributions.


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