Until very recently I hated conceptualism. Till I came across a piece written by Eric Wayne, an artist and art critic who wrote an article called “Why People Hate Contemporary/Conceptual Art”. It shifted my perception of conceptualism into a higher gear.

In conceptualism, the idea or concept behind the work became more important than the actual technical skill or aesthetic. Conceptualists use whichever materials and forms that are most appropriate to get their ideas across.

Eric still sees conceptualism as an art form, but by reading his analysis of the phenomenon I came to differ with him on the subject. Conceptualism and art relate to each other as philosophy with cosmology. While the first one ponders the question of HOW we should think, the second one proposes a vision concerning WHAT we should think about.

Why am I one of the few people saying this?

To quote Eric: “Part of the reason is it’s not welcome news in the art world, as it threatens the importance we place on revolutionary art acts within a given narrative of the progression of art history. People’s livelihoods depend on this belief NOT being countered. Additionally, critics benefit from an environment in which conceptualism is agreed upon as superseding traditional visual art. The tools of the critic are ideas, and the core of conceptualism consists of ideas. It became a game of ideas negotiated by critics, which gives them a purpose and power. Critics and theory are needed just to assess the art. Contemporary art criticism is in part a belief system, and an institutionalized one at that, which panders to the proverbial 1%, who are the only ones who can buy a Koons’ Balloon Dog. The buyers reciprocally have an influence on what is sold, and thus what is taken seriously”.

Conceptualism is like a religion confirmed Damien Hirst while proclaiming himself to its high priest when he launched himself into the NFT market.

The painting “Art, Conceptualism, and Universe” (Acrylic on canvas 24´ x 36′) has the Oedipidal relation between conceptualism and art as a subject. Anouchka Grose, a British-Australian Lacanian psychoanalyst and writer, summarized the Oedipus complex as following “You have to stop trying to be everything for your primary carer and get on with being something for the rest of the world”.

Just as the first philosophers started as cosmologists, the first conceptualists were artists. Just as philosophers are not anymore pretending to be cosmologists, conceptualists must stop pretending they´re artists. Only then there will be peace between artists and conceptualists.

What subject interests people more and how much they want to pay for it are personal decisions. Just don´t sell the public a book about philosophy while telling them it’s one about cosmology. Producing art is not the same as presenting an idea of art.

14 thoughts on “Art, Conceptualism, and the Universe.

    1. She wasn’t disagreeing with your argument, just took apparently some issue with the wording of it. I suppose that, like many artists, she became a little anti-establishment because the establishment ignores or dislikes her art. Succesful artists are less inclined to harbor such feelings, although there are examples of succesfull artists who’re anti-estblishment. The most prominent example that comes to mind being Banksy.


      1. She’s someone who once attacked my art on my blog. Because I work digitally, she insisted that “the machine did it”, meaning my art was made by a machine. This is like arguing that if you write a novel in Word, it was written by the machine. Anyway, she still has a grudge and that’s why she tried to smear me in her comment, and this is years later. Several people were attacking me at the same time for working digitally, which provoked me to rebut them all in a defense of digital art: https://artofericwayne.com/2018/06/19/runaway-rant-end-art-competitiveness/

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      2. An art work shouldn’t be judged by the tools the artist used or the amount of effort he put into his creation, but upon the result that is obtained. I know that many visual artists and critics are priding themselves to be proudly reactionary, liberal, and progressive but are on the other side averse of the use of modern technology as a tool to create art because they feel it blurs the boundary between man and machine. I know it to be a fact that most young artists who produce so called “artisanal” paintings start from a digitally created canvas to come to what appears a handmade painting. But the subject is surrounded by taboos, an ironic observation given the fact that most artists like to fight taboos.

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  1. In my own defense let me add that I wasn’t attacking digital art. I often like it and have no idea how it’s done. I was only asking questions trying to start a conversation because I thought Eric was a genius but he got all bent out of shape. He is very sensitive. I don’t hate anyone or any particular type of art.

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    1. That settles it then, The aversion that some galleries have for digital art probably roots into the fact that it can easily be reproduced and is thus not that exclusive. They cater to the happy few that can afford their prices.


      1. Maybe digital art makes more money for some galleries or less. I don’t know. Some artists are cashing in on digital.
        Once I asked Eric to critique my art. I offered to pay him but he said no, he might give me a bad review. I haven’t heard a real critique since I was a kid and they were harsh. But I’m not afraid of a bad critique and I’d have published it even if he blasted my art to hell. I’m not afraid of people that hate my type of art.
        Also, I never said the machine did the art. I asked him if he was testing the limits of the program and he said it has no limits and got so mad at me.
        No one else has ever called me a hater.


      2. Let´s just decompress and not further feed the polemic. It’s not the first time that artistic egos clash, but it’s time to let it go and turn towards more productive thoughts and atitudes.

        Liked by 1 person

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