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.
After reading Fineberg’s article about Minimal art and the various artists that contributed to this movement, I found a few aspects of Frank Stella’s work and description of his work extremely intriguing. Something that especially stood out to me was when Stella asked Carl Andre to write his artist’s statement. As stated, “Art excludes the unnecessary. Frank Stella has found it necessary to paint stripes.” With this said, I find Andre’s comment interesting because I have never thought of art in this way. Obviously, one only includes the things they want and even though Stella produces very simple and geometic/linear shapes in his works, it is only what he wanted to include and therefore the viewer should view it that way as well. This concept I feel is more meaningful than concepts in for example Andy Warhol’s art which was discussed in class. In addition to this, Andre states “…Stella’s painting is not symbolic,” meaning that even though the stripes were placed on the flag for a purpose, they are extremely neutral and that in itself tells the viewer a lot about Stella as an artist. Compared to the various other artists mentioned in the article, I specifically liked Stella because of the idea of that “only what can be seen there is there” and thus, forced me to view the flag only as a flag due to this lack of expression but still displaying a meaningful purpose.
What stood out to me the most in the Fineberg reading was how these minimalist artists pushed the definition of what art was by making art more than just a pretty painting on a canvas. They explored space and light as art, incorporated everyday objects or household goods and even played with illusions. Sol Le Witt was interesting because he used systemic logic in his art work which, in the ‘traditional’ art world, would not typically be accepted because it is not considered a romantic or expressionistic approach.
In contrast to the pop art that we studied last class, I think that minimalist art holds more depth and meaning to the work because instead of focusing on the aesthetics of the art and its literal presence, it focuses on the more abstract concepts surrounding the work like for example, the experience, the inspiration or even the thought process behind the effect the work would have on the viewer.
In the beginning of the reading, minimalist art was described as blank, neutral, mechanical impersonality in comparison to abstract expressionism. However, although minimalist art is less romantic in its appearance, I think that it holds more meaning and message than perhaps that of abstract expressionism as well as redefining what art was and is today.
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