Conceptual art and artists
Conceptual Art can be just about anything. The idea or concept is central. This approach set artists free of the boundaries of traditional sculpture and painting, enabling them to use found objects, text, video and much more. With Conceptual art there are no limits. The ideas of artists are art.
This lesson plan is an introduction to Conceptual art focusing on primarily on Work No.88. A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball by Martin Creed. This sculpture, made in 1995, is in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. It is exactly as it says in the title, a ball of paper crumpled into a ball. It challenges the ideas of what sculpture is and demands the viewer to think about why the artist crumpled it.
Is this art? You decide.
Key Stage:KS3&4 Art and Design
The origins of Conceptual art
The beginnings of Conceptual art go back to an artist called Marcel Duchamp who bought a urinal in 1917, signed it with the pseudonym R.Mutt, and entered it into an art exhibition in New York. Inevitably this act by Duchamp caused outrage but Duchamp argued that it didn't matter that the artist had not actually made the object himself. The important thing was that he had chosen it. The making was not important but the idea and the selection was.
In 1938 Salvador Dalí and Edward James created a number of telephones with lobsters on. Dalí saw the connection between the shape of the lobster shell and the telephone handset and simply put the two together. He found a company to make a number of these telephones for the house in London of his great supporter, Edward James. Salvador Dalí may never have even touched this sculpture, which is now in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Work No.88. A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball
In 1995 British artist Martin Creed crumpled a ball of paper and instead of throwing it into the waste paper bin he titled it Work No.88. In a waste paper bin it is a piece of rubbish destined for recycling. In an art gallery, protected by a perspex box, it is a piece of art that tells the viewer about frustration and failure. Close examination of the work shows that actually far from being a carelessly screwed up ball of paper it is actually carefully crumpled into a perfect ball.
Martin Creed made 150 copies of Work No.88 and one of these is now in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Nikita at the gallery has tried her best to answer questions from young people about the work.
Watch the film a couple of times and then discuss the four questions below.
Having heard what Nikita says about the sculpture do you think the work should be in the gallery and is it as important a work as she seems to think it is?
Do you agree with her and if not why not?
Is Work No.88 a sculpture?
Nikita says Conceptual art makes us think and challenge the world around us.
Do you agree or does it just make you cross?
What do you think the crumpled piece of paper means to people who look at it?
Is Martin Creed a good artist? If so why?
Nikita says that in a digital future using paper and scrunching up paper in frustration will be a thing of the past.
Do you agree and will all art be digital in the future?