The Conceptual Connection Between Art And Aesthetics

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Joseph Kosuth claims his art is purely conceptual. What does this mean? Is he saying the work only exists as a conception, an idea? Can we therefore assume visual judgements have no relevance to his works – or in that case the work of other Conceptual artists? Is he also saying that when the work is ’made’ (by this I mean displayed to his laid out instructions) it has no visual base to educate and tell the concept or idea he wishes to be measured? Does he require his art work be considered to have no aesthetic reflection and therefore not be deliberated visually by the viewer? Should the artist have an acknowledgment of this when it is shown as an artwork in an art space? In ‘Art after Philosophy’ (1969) Kosuth said ‘It is necessary to…show more content…
To do this I will consider established modernist aesthetic theory and its relevance in the desire of the conceptual artists to condemn and disengage from it. Immanuel Kant interpreted aesthetics as ‘a field giving priority to form over function’. Beauty, he said, ‘was independent of any particular figure with which it was attached’. ‘A horse might be beautiful apart from whether it raced well’. I will say at this point I will not further examine Kant’s Reflective Judgments but will anchor them in alliance to Greenberg’s taste and aesthetic values. My focus after considering theories of the changing aesthetic and challenging philosophies of art in the 1960’s will be to specifically reflect on Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs and his claims of its anti-aesthetics. Where we were. Conceptual art is in part a reaction against formulism. The revolt against the reduction and refinement of a medium towards an aesthetic defined outcome. In Art and Philosophy, Kosuth dismissed formalism, modernism and Greenberg as a ‘critic of taste’. Kosuth stressed that because aesthetics is disconnected from function or use it is connected to taste. And Kosuth said Greenberg’s taste was tied to the fifties and therefore not only out of date but out of time. Greenberg said that modern art should follow a process of ‘progressive reduction and refinement toward the goal of defining the absolutely essential’. That painting, should be defined as a painting and nothing
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