Conceptual Art is one of those terms thrown about by, very often, those who have no understanding of the term or what it means and represents.
“Modern Art” is fast becoming a wide spread idea that very often leads to peculiar looking pieces with a more deeper meaning behind them.
When explaining conceptual art it is often difficult and I often end it with “I’m not sure though it’s kind of confusing” because of the very vast and opinionated ideas about it.
Conceptual art is by definition “art in which the idea or concept presented by the artist is considered more important than the finished product, if any such exists.” This very often results in a piece that allows huge speculation as to the message of the piece, very often leaving you with an exhausted brain and a sense of philosophy.
This piece is actually untitled but for the ease of both of us lets just agree to call it “America”. Glenn Ligon’s piece from 2006 is a huge neon sign, painted black with some small abrasions on the paint surface towards the wall that allows slight chinks of light to reflect off the back wall.
For me, this piece showed how modern america is now seen in the media and world-wide. America is often associated with the bright signs of Hollywood and Las Vegas but any american will tell you this is all just a front to cover up Americas dark history and current events. I think this piece makes a huge political statement about how very often even the darkest, most corrupt things in human history can still be seen as light and pure when put in a certain perspective.
When first considering this piece I wondered if it wanted to show us how America is the symbol of greatness and patriotism but it is being tarred with the black paint of the media and corruption but is this what the artist wanted?
Did he want us to see that instead it was the complete opposite? Maybe America WAS founded on bad morals and poor choices, perhaps it was a political statement about how the original first white Americans stole their land from someone else, and therefore based their whole country of greatness on a dark history, and that maybe the light we notice is the light we always choose to see. Maybe we only notice the light because we choose to, because darkness makes us uncomfortable, so we choose not to notice it.
Another Untitled piece, this time by Robert Morris in 1967-8 but then remade in 2008 using felt alone.
Morris bought huge rectangular sheets of industrial felt and began to cut them into a series of straight lines.
They are then hung from the wall and every time they are placed somewhere new they hang differently, giving the piece a totally different look each time.
Before reading about the piece I thought the piece was going against the geometric laws and it was a symbol of anarchy, going against these laws that we are so often held by.
It reminded me very much of Roelof Louw’s ‘Pyramid of Oranges’ as this piece also goes against these laws.
The ever changing piece could hint at how as people and societies we are all intertwined together, that the idea of such societies are very clean cut, but due to circumstances, the positions we are put in and held in, these societies very often become tangled and confusing.
The Liverpool Tate’s Festival for Contemporary Art was, to put it simply, amazing. For those of you who got to see it, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you missed it, i highly recommend that if you do happen to see any kind of contemporary art museum, exhibition or festival on that you go along and see.
One of the most famous contemporary art pieces is Tracy Emin’s ‘My Bed’.
‘My Bed’ is what the name states. The artist has presented her bed, in all its embarrassing glory. Empty cigarette packets, worn underwear, Durex boxes, half drunken alcohol, slippers, stained sheets and even a toy dog.
The artist uses this to reveal intimate objects and lifestyle choices.
The bed represents a place where you are most vulnerable, where you sleep can say everything about a person.
A neat, made, clean bed could belong to a person with intense OCD or perhaps a bed like Emin’s it could show a person with massive creativity, a busy lifestyle or someone who is deeply troubled.
However you wish to perceive it, Emin perfectly executed a thought-provoking, controversial piece.
Before going to Liverpool I was not a huge fan of conceptual art. A couple of years ago I visited the Tate Modern in London and found myself wandering and just laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. But I discovered that to really engage with this style you must dive in head first and put all of your effort into analysing a piece and to try and really understand it you must really dig deep.
Hopefully this project will inspire someone else to begin the journey of Contemporary Art, and maybe, person by person we can all learn to understand it just a little bit more.
If you ever happen to find yourself in Liverpool be sure to head down to the docks and take a wander through the Tate, no matter what the exhibition I can ensure you will be enlightened.
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