Maria Anwander

More Konzeption Conception Now

Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (February 1 – April 19, 2015)

Ideas are works!
Conceptual Art, a radically new form of artistic work, emerged in the 1960s. To this very day, its artistic strategies are extremely attractive, repeatedly providing reference points for the work of young contemporary artists. Yet it is not really possible to carry on those historical concepts and strategies, unbroken, into the present. Instead, reference to them also involves the challenge to change them.

When the exhibition Konzeption Conception was shown at Museum Morsbroich for about a month in 1969 both visitors and critics put up considerable resistance to the presentation. That project was not only one of the first institutional exhibitions of Conceptual Art, it was also the first exhibition to include the term firmly in its title. The works on show then, by more than 40 artists chosen by the Dusseldorf gallery owner Konrad Fischer and presented jointly with the museum director at the time, Rolf Wedewer, represented new forms of artistic expression. The focus of the show was no longer the finished original, but the idea, the sketch, the description, in brief, the concept.

More Konzeption Conception Now
The Conceptual Art approaches presented in Leverkusen in 1969 form the point of the departure for the current exhibition. More than 20 young international artists engage through their work with the Conceptual Art of the 1960s.

Fully aware of the conceptual positions of the 1960s, these contemporary artists deliberately avail themselves of some of the strategies presented in 1969, while also using new components designated by Noemi Smolik in her text for the exhibition as “contaminations” of the conceptual—for example, the idea of the folkloric or the everyday. In other words, these artists are not interested in an unbroken continuation of the historical Conceptual Art.

The reflection on conceptual strategies in the works of the younger artists as well as the “shift” they contain also consider changed themes in changed times. They generate a new topicality and relevance for conceptual expressive possibilities. Ceal Floyer, for example, who for her work Title Variable (2001–09) spans a black rubber band across the whole wall, thus undertaking a kind of surveying measurement—albeit paradoxically with an elastic material. This work recalls the space surveys of Timm Ulrichs or those of Mel Bochner, who in the 1969 exhibition drew lines on the walls and noted down the exact measurements.

Curator of the exhibition is Stefanie Kreuzer.

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