Paragraphs on Conceptual Art (1967) Sol Lewitt by Elsie Campbell

In his Paragraph’s on Conceptual Art Sol Lewitt explains, in his own view, the definition of conceptual art; he outlines the guidelines in form, purpose, and artistic language that he sees as necessary to the product. Lewis explains conceptual art as art where the idea of concept is the most important aspect in the product. The artist must formulate their conceptual idea before creating the physical art. All planning and decisions regarding communication of the idea are made before hand as to free the work from capricious subjectivity or divergence from intention. Ideally, Lewitt describes, conceptual art is not an exploration in psychology or philosophy or emotion, but rather a singular communication of a concept.

I found it interesting that Lewitt said, “it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art” because it seems to contract the entire point of conceptual art. If the point of conceptual art is to convey one point, wouldn’t it be important for the viewers to be able to understand that? This slight contradiction was interesting especially because he emphasized that successful conceptual art should be extremely simple, which made it seem like it would make conceptual art geared towards direction communication of attention and accessibility to viewers.

I think it is important to note that Sol Lewitt did say at the end of the paragraphs that “these ideas are the result of my work as an artist and are subject to change as my experience changes.” This acknowledges the subjectivity and fluidity of art and also shows Lewitt’s awareness of the limitations on his views.

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