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The notion that art should examine its own nature was already a potent aspect of the influential art critic Clement Greenberg's vision of Modern art during the 1950s.With the emergence of an exclusively language-based art in the 1960s, however, conceptual artists such as Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and the English Art & Language group began a far more radical interrogation of art than was previously possible (see below).while others, including many of the artists themselves, saw conceptual art as a radical break with Greenberg's kind of formalist Modernism.

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However, it assumed a different meaning when employed by Joseph Kosuth and by the English Art and Language group, who discarded the conventional art object in favour of a documented critical inquiry into the artist's social, philosophical and psychological status.By the mid-1970s they had produced publications, indices, performances, texts and paintings to this end.However, by the end of the 1960s it was certainly clear that Greenberg's stipulations for art to continue within the confines of each medium and to exclude external subject matter no longer held traction.Conceptual art also reacted against the commodification of art; it attempted a subversion of the gallery or museum as the location and determiner of art, and the art market as the owner and distributor of art.Conceptual art, sometimes simply called conceptualism, is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns.

Some works of conceptual art, sometimes called installations, may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions.

Although the utilisation of text in art was in no way novel, only in the 1960s did the artists Lawrence Weiner, Edward Ruscha, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Barry, and the English Art & Language group begin to produce art by exclusively linguistic means.

Where previously language was presented as one kind of visual element alongside others, and subordinate to an overarching composition (e.g.

In 1970 Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects, the first dedicated conceptual-art exhibition, took place at the New York Cultural Center.

Conceptual art emerged as a movement during the 1960s - in part as a reaction against formalism as then articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg.

Lawrence Weiner said: "Once you know about a work of mine you own it.