Conceptual Art Sample Paper

Defining Modernism in Modernist Painting

 Modernism, according to Clement Greenberg, is the period between the mid-1850s to present-day, that is demonstrated by a self-critical tendency of arts. According to Clement, the first modernist artist was Immanuel Kant. The concepts of modernism involve the integration of suitable discipline methods to criticize the field itself (Greenberg, 1982). Immanuel Kant used this notion in founding the limits of logic. Modernist painting abandons the principle of representation of renaissance and illusionistic space, which is repressed by three-dimensional objects. It also resists the sculptural, which is either expelled or suppressed. 

Modernist Painting Being Medium-Specific

Modernist painting has become more medium-specific since the expression of the arts has its own order. According to Greenberg, Modernism used art to call attention to artists. According to him, modernist artists such as Édouard Manet use dark outline around the body of a woman, where there is the visibility of brush strokes. This hence calls to attention the flatness in the picture plane rather than the illusionistic space (Greenberg, 1982). Greenberg states that, it was the flatness that made the art to be modernist rather than the subject matter, which is a true reflection of what modern art entails. 

Conceptual Art Challenge on Greenberg’s paradigm

Clement Greenberg’s formalism and Lewitt’s conceptualism are different in two fronts. The first difference is their view of basic understanding and appreciation of art. This includes the object’s formal qualities or underlying ideas. The other aspect in which the two differ is on the view of how an art piece should be experienced. Greenberg argues that artworks should be viewed as aesthetically or in a disinterested manner. Conceptualists, on the other hand, argue that the viewing of the art piece should be in a contemplative manner (LeWitt, 1967). The two ideologies are viewed as fundamentally opposing ones. However, both concepts champion for artworks to keep the viewer in control of their critical agency, which is devoid of theatrics. Both react against the conditions of receiverships, where they redefine the role of the spectator. This shows that the key disagreement between the two is not art what should be and do, but the clash of strategy rather than ideology. 

LeWitt on Conceptual Art

By statement, conceptual art is free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman, LeWitt means that this kind of art is not illustrative of theories. Instead, it is instinctual, where it is involved in all the types of mental processes (LeWitt, 1967). This statement reduces art to an idea. By this, he implies that the process one uses in making art is not the objective of the art. According to him, conceptual art is not based on the execution but rather on the concepts. 

Experience on Conceptual Art

 The conceptual art has a tendency of proving intense and extreme reactions in its audiences. Whereas some viewers find it to be refreshing and relevant, others find it to be distasteful, shocking, and one that lacks craftsmanship. It equally receives both love and hate, due to its controversy in challenging and probing about what we tend to do, as given in the domain of art, mostly on the modernist painting. 

Conceptual Art by Adrian Piper

Adrian Piper, who is an American conceptual artist, perceives this type of art as one which addresses how and why those who are involved in more than one discipline can experience professional ostracism, racial passing, otherness, and racism. From her conceptual artwork, it is apparent that the idea behind the work is more critical than the finalized product itself (Piper, 1992.). She conceives conceptual art as one which instead focuses on the parameters of art itself by identifying with what art can do for the political and social world. 

Similarity to LeWitt’s

  Both Adrian and Lewitt are conceptual artists. Lewitt is seen to be the father of conceptual art, who is linked to various movements. On the other hand, Adrian followed suit with conceptual art. They both use art to address societal issues, with no regard the final product, but rather concentering on the message that the art can portray to its relevant audiences (Piper, 1992.). Adan’s conceptual art is similar to Lewitt’s in that it seeks to expand the definition of art, through addressing critical issues in the world. The two conceptual arts have a philosophical quest. 


 A key difference in the viewpoints of the two conceptual artwork is the fact that unlike Le Witt’s art, Piper’s contemporary art demanded no absolute standards other than what she set for herself. Initially, she had been awakened after encountering Lewitt’s conceptual art, which inspired her (Piper, 1992.). She was initially a figurative artist, before getting inspired into conceptual art. She had her unique way of using art to preach about issues such as environmental conservation concerns and gender equality, among many other issues affecting the society.


Greenberg, C. (1982). Modernist painting. Modern art and modernism. A critical anthology, 5(6).

LeWitt, S. (1967). Paragraphs on conceptual art. Artforum,. 5(10), 79-83.

Piper, A. (1992.). A Defense of the’Conceptual’Process in Art. Out of Order. Out of Sight.

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