The Case Against Conceptual Art

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Philosophy Now
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The Case Against Conceptual Art

Post by Philosophy Now » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:48 pm

Trevor Pateman makes the case for the prosecution.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/129/The_Case_Against_Conceptual_Art

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Immanuel Can
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Re: The Case Against Conceptual Art

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:28 pm

Philosophy Now wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:48 pm
Trevor Pateman makes the case for the prosecution.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/129/Th ... eptual_Art
Essentially, the argument is that if "Art" is a concept, not a depiction of reality, then we can have the concept without the art. In fact, what we're enjoying is merely the concept the representation is conveying, and the art itself is at best alienating, at worst redundant.

But most people seem to like Impressionists like Cezanne and Manet because their paintings have pretty colours and pleasing shapes. I've rarely run into someone who likes them purely because of their concepts -- such as that reality is objectively unavailable, that life is transient, that truth is an impression, and so on -- or anybody who has even read their manifesto.

The point is that art is not just a message, even when it's conceptual art; it's a medium, a way of conveying that message that is not overtly propositional or linguistic. Arguments, at their best, convince by rationality; art convinces by observation, by impression, by experiencing the created product and engaging with it personally. That somewhat circumvents the rational processes, and appeals on a more subconscious wavelength.

There's a trade-off there: the concept is presented less rigorously, completely and logically, for sure; but the gain is that it "gets in through a side door," rather than inflaming the critical faculties immediately. And that's somewhat subversive, somewhat propagandistic, and also uniquely effective in softening up the perceiver to receive the concept being advanced.

Sure, it's possible for an observer to miss the concept entirely...and in the case of modern art, people often do. But for those who do understand, even in some small measure, what the artists is "saying," the aesthetic quality of the artistic product conveys the concept in such a way as to circumnavigate the cynical defences.

To quote McLuhan, "the medium is the message." That's never more true than in the case of conceptual art. It's the concept that is being promoted, but the medium that is doing all the heavy lifting there.

So if we dispensed with the art, would we still have the concept? Maybe. But we would only have it as a proposition, as logic, as statement. Art, if it is understood at all, hits us in a different way.

Nick_A
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Re: The Case Against Conceptual Art

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:31 pm

How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we march against an enemy. Nietzsche
It is the sme with conceptual art which is a medium used to justify our silliness.

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