Conceptual Art

Conceptual Art
by Ursula Meyer
E P Dutton & Co. Inc.
New York
SBN 0-525-47271-1

This book is referenced in Alex Klein's essay Remembering and Forgetting Conceptual Art from the book Words Without Pictures (Aperture 2009). Klein described the book as a 'classic compendium' and made special mention of the cover design being representational of the look of Conceptual practice... black and white, stripped down, serial, bureaucratic and textual. It is easy to see that this book must have had some influence on the design of Words Without Pictures, of which Klein was the editor.

As I love to do, I searched the book on Amazon to see if I could find a copy and was delighted to find a decent first edition for about four dollars. It is a terrific little book that was part of a unique line of art books published by E P Dutton.  Here is the text from the blurb on the back cover...

The function of the critic and the function of the artist have been traditionally divided; the artist's concern was the production of the work and the critic's was its evaluation and interpretation. During the past several years a group of young artists evolved the idiom of Conceptual Art, which eliminated this division. Conceptual artists take over the role of the critic in terms of framing their own propositions, ideas, and concepts.

An essential aspect of Conceptual Art is its self-reference; often the artists define the intentions of their work as part of their art. Thus, many Conceptual artists advance propositions or investigations. It is in keeping, then, with Conceptual Art that it is best explained through itself, i.e., through the examination of Conceptual Art, rather than through any assumptions outside of itself. In this sense, this book is not a "critical anthology" but a documentation of Conceptual Art and Statements.

Edward Ruscha discusses his perplexing publications

Bernhard and Hilla Becher , The Function