The Tower of Song’s Museum of Conceptual/Performance Art.


"A piece of conceptual art that doesn't exist, but exists in the imagination."


A good example of a definition of Conceptual Art is Lawrence Weiner's 2005 piece called: "Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole." Conceptual Art has also been thought of in this way: "That's what the history of conceptual art is--something that smaller that points to something larger." (James Franco, 8/3/11) But conceptual art doesn't have to be an actual thing, like a piece that hangs in an art gallery: "A piece of conceptual art that doesn't exist, but exists in the imagination." (James Franco) There is such a thing called the Museum of Conceptual Art (a location that was once planned to be built as an alternative to the Guggenheim, but never built). Thus, to the question, Where is this Museum of Conceptual Art, it doesn't exist in the concrete world, but in the Imagination.


Conceptual Art is Art that is intended to convey an idea or a concept to the perceiver, rejecting the creation or appreciation of a traditional art object such as a painting or a sculpture as a precious commodity. Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. "In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”—Sol LeWitt


Conceptual Art emerged as an art movement in the 1960s. Many of the works are sometimes called "installations." The expression "concept art" was used in 1961 by Henry Flynt in a Fluxus publication, but it was to take on a different meaning when it was used by the Art & Language group. For the Art & Language group, concept art resulted in an art object being replaced by an analysis of it. Exponents of Conceptual Art said that artistic production should serve artistic knowledge and that the art object is not an end in itself. The first exhibition specifically devoted to Conceptual Art took place in 1970 at the New York Cultural Center under the title "Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects." Because Conceptual Art is so dependent upon the text (or discourse) surrounding it, it is strongly related to numerous other movements of the last century.


Tony Godfrey, author of "Conceptual Art" (1998), asserts that conceptual art questions the nature of art. An important difference between conceptual art and more "traditional" forms of art-making goes to the question of artistic skill. Although it is often the case that skill in the handling of traditional media plays little role in conceptual art, it is difficult to argue that no skill is required to make conceptual works, or that skill is always absent from them. Many conceptual performance artists are technically accomplished performers and skilled manipulators of their own bodies. It is thus not so much an absence of skill or hostility toward tradition that defines conceptual art as an evident disregard for conventional, modern notions of authorial presence and individual artistic expression (or genius).


Performance Art is related to Conceptual Art. (There are accounts of itinerant poets, like the twelfth-century Troubadours, and Renaissance artists putting on public performances that could be said to be ancestors of performance art.) Although performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to conceptual art which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes, it can also be used to identify non-dramatic performances. It largely refers to a performance which is presented to an audience, but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, or which alternately does not seek to depict a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. It therefore can include action or spoken word as a communication between the artist and audience, or even ignore expectations of an audience, rather than following a script written beforehand. Performance artists often challenge the audience to think in new and unconventional ways, break conventions of traditional arts, and break down conventional ideas about "what art is."


In art, performance art is a performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or via media; the performer can be present or absent. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any venue or setting and for any length of time. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. Although downplayed in the more active presentations of performance art, writing and language is an important element in it. Ever since the free association and random cut-and-paste techniques of the Beat Generation of writers and poets (e.g., William Burroughs) have played an important role in the more literary types of performance art. Thus, for instance, stream of consciousness writing or free writing helps many performance artists.


In the 1960s a variety of new works, concepts and the increasing number of artists led to new kinds of performance art. Allan Kaprow had coined the term "Happening." describing a new art-form, at the beginning of the 1960s. A Happening allows the artist to experiment with body motion, recorded sounds, written and spoken texts, and even smells. Of course, it was Andy Warhol who made performance art popular during the early 1960s. He began to create films and video, and in the mid-60s sponsored the Velvet Underground. They staged events and performances in New York, like the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966) that featured live Rock music, exploding lights, and film. In the early 70s, Laurie Anderson performed Duets on Ice, on the streets of New York City. Until the 1980s, performance art had been demystifying virtuosity, but it now began to embrace technical brilliance. By the end of the 1980s, performance art had become so widely known that it no longer needed to be defined; mass culture, especially television, had come to supply both structure and subject matter for much performance art; and several performance artists, including Laurie Anderson, Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Willem Dafoe, and Ann Magnuson, had indeed become crossover artists in mainstream entertainment. Hedwig Gorski before 1982 came up with the term performance poetry, to distinguish her text-based vocal performances from performance art, especially the work of performance artists, such as Laurie Anderson, who worked with music at that time. Performance poets relied more on the rhetorical and philosophical expression in their poetics than performance artists, who arose from the visual art genres of painting and sculpture. In the western world in the 1990s, even sophisticated performance art became part of the cultural mainstream: performance art as a complete art-form gained admittance into art museums and became a museal topic. By the second half of the decade of 2000, computer-aided forms of performance art began to take place.