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Art and Language

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The beginnings of Conceptual art in the 20th century

The ‘Art-Language’ works came about with a group of British artists working in the 1960’s. Most of their activity was a by-product of the ‘Art-Language’ journal, which had been up and running since 1966, and would later be published in 1969. As the title of the journal suggests, this work was dedicated to theoretical issues of conceptual art and the interrelations of the written word as an icon of meaning as opposed to the visual tools with which an artist communicates to his/her audience.

The name was first used by David Bainbridge, Harold Hurrell, Michael Baldwin and Terry Atkinson in reference to their collaborative work, and this assemblage would later include Joseph Kosuth, Charles Harrison, Mel Ramsden and Ian Burn. Relying on the fields of philosophy, sociology and linguistics, they attempted to define the essence and function of art, offering a critical, researched inquiry as to the source of art- the artist him/herself.

They analyzed the psychological, social and philosophical points of view of the artist; things which had seemed till then to be mystically secretive aspects of the artistic process and by 1975 had amassed a large body of work, both in literary indexes, publications and essays and in visual art and performances.




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