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Title: Systems, contexts, relations : an alternative genealogy of conceptual art
Author: Skrebowski, Luke
ISNI:       0000 0004 0123 4642
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2009
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Recent scholarship has revisited conceptual art in light of its ongoing influence on contemporary art, arguing against earlier accounts of the practice which gave a restricted account of its scope and stressed its historical foreclosure. Yet conceptual art remains both historically and theoretically underspecified, its multiple and often conflicting genealogies have not all been convincingly traced. This thesis argues for the importance of a systems genealogy of conceptual art—culminating in a distinctive mode of systematic conceptual art—as a primary determinant of the conceptual genealogy of contemporary art. It claims that from the perspective of post-postmodern, relational and context art, the contemporary significance of conceptual art can best be understood in light of its “systematic” mode. The distinctiveness of contemporary art, and the problems associated with its uncertain critical character, have to be understood in relation to the unresolved problems raised by conceptual art and the implications that these have held for art's post-conceptual trajectory. Consequently, the thesis reconsiders the nascence, emergence, consolidation and putative historical supersession of conceptual art from the perspective of the present. The significance of the historical problem of postformalism is reemphasised and the nascence of conceptual art located in relation to it. A neglected historical category of systems art is recovered and its significance for the emergence of conceptual art demonstrated. The consolidation of conceptual art is reconsidered by distinguishing its multiple modes. Here, a “systematic” mode of conceptual art is argued to be of greater current critical importance than the more established “analytic” mode. Finally, the supersession of conceptual art is revisited from the perspective of the present in order to demonstrate that contemporary context and relational practices recover problems first articulated by systematic conceptual art. It is from systematic conceptual art that relational and context art inherit their focus on the social relations and the social context of art. By recovering the systems genealogy and systematic mode of conceptual art we provide a richer conceptual genealogy of contemporary art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available