Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art?

I have never been a fan of conceptual art. It is something that I never understood, this is apparent to a lot of people. However, after watching this documentary from the BBC (first aired on BBC Four in September last year) it has started to change my opinion on it. Presenter James Fox takes both the viewer and himself on a journey to figure it out, which was probably the best way to do the program as he asked the same questions I wondered about. The program was almost ‘dumbed down’ for the viewers but I think this worked to its advantages as it was explained in simple terms for uneducated.

The opening sequence shows one piece that stuck in my mind, which was Work No. 88 (A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball) created by Martin Creed in 1995. To which Fox ponders its validity as a piece of art and then ends with ‘Maybe we’re all missing something.’

Obviously as a fine art student I have heard of Marcel Duchamp and his infamous Fountain however I never really understood why it was considered a piece of work. This was until this documentary and the short clip of an interview with Duchamp explaining his work. Duchamp wanted to have fun with the work, he wanted to ‘take the mick’ out of the art world. Similarly to Piero Manzoni, who liked to use bodily substances with his work as even more of a mockery of the art world.

Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art? has taught me a lot about the ideas behind Conceptualism and the reasons why it was created. It has made me appreciate Conceptual Art, as I now have a better understanding of it. I quite enjoy the idea of questioning art and having a laugh with it.

This Program also influenced me to talk about Conceptual Art in my presentation last November and my essay due in May.



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