AN EXPLORATION OF ART AND LANGUAGE ARTISTS SOL LE WITT, TERRY ATKINSON , MICHAEL BALDWIN HOWARD HURRELL AND DAVID BAINBRIDGE AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE FOR ARTISTIC PRACTICES IN CONCEPTUAL ART IN THE 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES :PART3

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This is my final part of my exploration of Art and Language artists . Continuing my consideration of Charles Harrison’s contributions on the subject . ” As objects of supposedly dispassionate contemporaries the chaos and contingency of the everyday -against all occasions of conflict and self interest”.[1].

Taking a critical view of Modernist Theory Harrison comments further ” Because of the tendency observed in Modernist theory towards specialisation and towards the entrenchment of each form of art within its own area of competence”. [2].

Harrison continues to show how Modernist theory had failed to appreciate new developments in Art and continued to wall of developments into their separate categories. Referring once again to Clement Greenberg he comments ” In the eyes of Clement Greenberg or a Michael Fried the aesthetic autonomy and thus the quality of a given work was seen as impaired to the extent that it required acknowledgement of environmental or social consideration”.[3].

” In fact the criticism of both was predicated upon the verdict that the authentic or best high art of the time was abstract”. [4].

Art and Language artists challenged this whole concept of art turning the spectator into a passive individual. ” A second and closely related assumption was that works of Art are things made primarily to be looked at or beheld”. [5].

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Referring to Marcel Duchamp  Harrison shows that Duchamp was the first artist to question the role of Art and to show that Art did not  have to be art constructed or made by particular artists. Conceptual artists like Jasper Johns and Richard Hamilton  would show and reflect much of the ideas of Marcel Duchamp. “The ready mades of Marcel Duchamp for instance were used in the late 1960’s and have been used as an example of a form of art- which whatever its merits or its inadequacies was not addressed to the beholder”[6].

” Fried’s (Michael Fried pupil of Clement Greenberg and follower of his tradition in Modernism) advancement of the idea of an art accessible to eyesight alone”. [7].

Robert Morris a Minimalist and performance artist also took a critical stand. ” That the concerns of sculpture have been   for sometime not only distant but hostile to those of painting”.[8]. ” The sociological space of art was no longer to be identified with the beholders propitious domain”. [9].

Commenting on the role of Art now Harrison states ” During the later 1960’s the pursuit of an art  which was neither painting or sculpture served to rally many who though they wished to practice as artists , could not be seen to submit to regulative definitions of that practice”.[10]. ” Its adherents were united by a commitment to art which was supposedly indistinguishable  from opposition to Imperialism War, Racism and repression”.[11].

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In the latter part of his discussion of Modernism Charles Harrison consider the pivotal role of Mark Rothko the outstanding member of Abstract Expressionism . I consider his role in Modernist art to be more important than Either Jackson Pollock or other Abstract Expressionists. ” Rothko’s work involved the gradual elimination first of those forms which were redolent of organic life. His aim I believe was to keep at bay the possibilities of the translation of painting as a symbol and thus to keep it unfixed only available system of meanings and values”. [12].

” Conceptual art , they wanted art as a history of radical ideas about Art”. [13].

Continuing his discussion of Conceptual art Harrison comments ” For conceptual artists of the first type, painting and sculpture were simply redundant and embarrassing technical categories”. [14].

Concluding his discussion of Rothko’s importance in the Modernist canon Harrison says ” I have suggested that Rothko tuned his paintings so they would stand as negations of certain cultural and Moral world. in so far as Rothko did in fact succeed , his paintings were realistic expressions of some actual moral condition”.[15].

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Roberta Smith in her discussion of Conceptual art and particularly Art and language . “Arts condition is a conceptual state wrote Joseph Kossuth , without language there is no art echoed Lawrence Weiner ( American Conceptual artist) , language gave the conceptualists their distinct radical character”.[16].

Referring to Atkinson and other members of the Art and Language group Smith comments ” In early 1968 ,the English artists Terry Atkinson , david Bainbridge Michael Baldwin and Howard Hurrell  founded the Art and Language Press and proposed their air show , by 1969 they would be publishing their own esoteric magazine Art Language”.[17].

” For some artists particularly Kossuth , Weiner and Barry and the members   of the art and Language group , language achieved a quasi-normal status existing as both material and subject and the work of these artists focussed almost exclusively on the question of defining art”.[18].

This concludes my discussion of Art and Language an important part of Conceptual art which set out to challenge the Modernist canon created by Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. In my next posts I will be considering the importance of Pop Art as a Revolutionary movement in opposition to Abstract Expressionism.

FOOT NOTES

  1. ESSAYS ON ART AND LANGUAGE CHARLES HARRISON PG 31
  2.  DITTO PG 31
  3. DITTO PG.32
  4.  DITTO PG.32
  5. DITTO PG. 33
  6. DITTO PG.33
  7. DITTO PG.33
  8. DITTO PG. 39
  9. DITTO PG.40
  10. DITTO PG.41
  11. DITTO PG.41-42
  12. DITTO PG.230
  13. DITTO  PG.235
  14. DITTO  PG.236
  15. DITTO  PG.240
  16. CONCEPTS OF MODERN ART CONCEPTUAL ART ROBERTA SMITH PG.260
  17. DITTO PG.263
  18. DITTO PG.264.

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3 thoughts on “AN EXPLORATION OF ART AND LANGUAGE ARTISTS SOL LE WITT, TERRY ATKINSON , MICHAEL BALDWIN HOWARD HURRELL AND DAVID BAINBRIDGE AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE FOR ARTISTIC PRACTICES IN CONCEPTUAL ART IN THE 20TH AND 21ST CENTURIES :PART3”

  1. Nicely done! I heard some interviews with Duchamp recently. Really enlightening! I had no I idea he spoke English so well. Nice that you mentioned Jasper Johns as well. I’ve been thinking of him recently. And yes, I guess Rothko really did an interesting thing by not painting people. Anyway, I really enjoyed the pictures you posted as well! Cheers!!! –Paul

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