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Conceptual Art

Discover how Conceptual artists used language, performance, and instructions to fuel creativity, and sought alternatives to institutional settings.

Language and Art

Explore the role words played in Conceptual art’s emphasis on ideas over visual forms.

I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art

John Baldessari
(American, born 1931)

1971. Lithograph, composition: 22 3/8 x 29 9/16" (56.8 x 75.1 cm); sheet: 22 7/16 x 30 1/16" (57 x 76.4 cm)

The print is based on an installation created at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, but not by John Baldessari’s hand. “As there wasn’t enough money for me to travel to Nova Scotia, I proposed that the students voluntarily write ‘I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art’ on the walls of the gallery, like punishment. To my surprise they covered the walls.” Those same students made this print, but Baldessari wasn’t at the workshop when the print was made. In both cases, Baldessari gave scant instructions to the students from thousands of miles away, and he was not present to supervise, raising questions of authorship and the role of the artist.

Baldessari points out that language has made-up rules that we all agree to follow. Conventional notions of art may be as ingrained, passed down, and unquestioned as rules of language, but artists like Baldessari aimed to show that they are equally arbitrary, and open to interpretation. Baldesssari described his conceptual works as “what I thought art should be, not what somebody else would think art would be. You know, received wisdom, what you would get in school. And so a lot of my work was about questioning this received wisdom.”

A work of art on paper that usually exists in multiple copies. It is created not by drawing directly on paper, but through a transfer process. The artist begins by creating a composition on another surface, such as metal or wood, and the transfer occurs when that surface is inked and a sheet of paper, placed in contact with it, is run through a printing press. Four common printmaking techniques are woodcut, etching, lithography, and screenprint.

A form of art, developed in the late 1950s, which involves the creation of an enveloping aesthetic or sensory experience in a particular environment, often inviting active engagement or immersion by the spectator.

Did You Know?
Baldessari did not always make art using text. Early in his career, he painted landscapes and abstract compositions. But in 1970, disillusioned with the state of painting and disgusted with his earlier work, he burned many of these pieces, staged a funeral, and began making works that featured text and photographs. I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, his first print, is a window into his thinking at the time and his developing interest in Conceptual art.