John Baldessari’s work can be seen as a steady progression, starting simply and building upwards. His first works, which he produced in the late 60s, were cocky, tongue-in-cheek, text-based conceptual pieces in the style of Lawrence Weiner, but with less poetry and graphic flair. These pieces relied heavily on funny, ironic phrases like his first…
Gilbert and George
Conceptual art can be funny, poignant and clever, but overall, with a few exceptions, I find it to be one of the most visually underwhelming schools of art. I suppose that’s bound to happen when the artist lays out the framework or provides only the idea (the concept) and leaves the rest of the work – in some cases the entire visual element of a piece – to the viewer. It’s curious then that the artist I like best out of the bunch is Lawrence Weiner. It has a lot to do with our mutual love of the letterform, but I also genuinely enjoy thinking (conceptualizing) about the concrete thing his words describe.
If you love letterforms and especially love to find them in unexpected places then you already love Lawrence Weiner. One of the first to introduce typography to the world of fine art, Weiner became a major figure in the conceptual scene in the late 60s when he released his “Declaration of Intent” in response to Sol LeWitt’s “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art.” Weiner stated simply that as far as his art goes, he may construct them or someone else must be able to construct them or they need not be constructed at all, existing as text-only recipes for artworks that live in the mind’s eye.