On Perceiving Conceptual Art

Peter Lamarque

in Work and Object

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577460
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722998 | DOI:
On Perceiving Conceptual Art

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Although ‘conceptual art’ covers many different kinds of works, for at least one paradigmatic kind of conceptual artwork the question of what role perception plays in appreciation is crucial. If the idea is what matters then perhaps there is no need to perceive the works at all in order to understand and appreciate them; their nature and content might be adequately captured, say, in a description. If that is right then it implies they are not really visual works at all, perhaps more like literary works. This chapter shows that comparisons with literature are inadequate in explaining what is distinctive about conceptual art. It also explores the role of the aesthetic in conceptual art. Even if the emphasis is on ideas rather than visual appearance, that is not enough to eliminate the relevance of the aesthetic. Unless experience (broadly construed) plays some role in the appreciation of conceptual art it is hard to see how it could merit the label ‘art’.

Keywords: conceptual art; perception; literature; ideas; experience

Chapter.  5592 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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