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Schellekens Dammann, Elisabeth. The aesthetic value of ideas
2007, In Peter Goldie & Elisabeth Schellekens (eds.), Philosophy and Conceptual Art. Oxford University Press.
Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: One of the least controversial aspects of the highly provocative project that was early conceptual art was its wholesale rejection of the modernist paradigm. For artists adhering to the conceptual approach, modernism’s loyalty to the notions of beauty, aesthetic sensation, and pleasing form, represented a commitment to obsolete artistic axioms.’ Art, it was argued, should be purged of expressivist or emotivist aims; it was to ‘[free] itself of aesthetic parameters’ and embrace an altogether different ontological platform. On this line, a conceptual artwork was taken to be ‘a piece: and a piece need not be an aesthetic object, or even an object at all’ (Binkley 1977: 265). In contrast to modernism, then, conceptual art set itself, from its very beginning, a distinctively analytic agenda by proposing to revise the kind of thing an artwork can be in order to qualify as such, and pronouncing aesthetics ‘conceptually irrelevant to art’ (Kosuth 1969). It is in view of this that conceptual art, to use the words of some of its most prominent exponents, can be understood as ‘Modernism’s nervous breakdown’ (Art – Language 1997).

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