The 1960s were a time of experimentation and rethinking the social order, of struggles against established power structures and institutions of all kinds, including museums. Artists began to look outside the museum, to public spaces, including streets and university campuses, as sites well suited for artistic intervention. Their practices merged with political movements of the time, including antiwar, civil rights, and feminist movements, to critique underlying power structures in society.
Art that emerged in the late 1960s, emphasizing ideas and theoretical practices rather than the creation of visual forms. In 1967, the artist Sol LeWitt gave the new genre its name in his essay “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” in which he wrote, “The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.”
Questions & Activities
Following and Breaking with Tradition
What, if any, characteristics do Buren’s and Matta-Clark’s work share with more traditional forms of painting and sculpture?
Brainstorm and write down a list of commonalities.
Debating Daniel Buren
Many Conceptual artists challenged the authority of museums, galleries, and other institutional art settings. Daniel Buren stated, “The museum/gallery instantly promotes to ‘art’ status whatever it exhibits with conviction, i.e., habit, thus diverting in advance any attempt to question the foundations of art.”
Do you agree, or disagree? In a one- to two-page essay, argue either for or against Buren’s statement.