Art & Language
Art & Language is a conceptual artists' collaboration that has undergone many changes since it was created in the late 1960s. The group was founded by artists who shared a common desire to combine intellectual ideas and concerns with the creation of art. The first issue of the group's journal, Art-Language, was published in November 1969 in England, and was an important influence on conceptual art in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Art & Language group was founded around 1967 in the United Kingdom by Terry Atkinson (b. 1939), David Bainbridge (b. 1941), Michael Baldwin (b. 1945) and Harold Hurrell (b. 1940). These four artists began their collaboration around 1966 while they were art teachers in Coventry. The name of the group was derived from their journal, Art-Language, originally created as a work conversation in 1966. The group was critical of what was considered mainstream modern art practices at the time. In their work conversations, they created conceptual art as part of their discussions.
Between 1968 and 1982, the group grew to nearly fifty people. Among the first to join were critic and art historian, Charles Harrison, and artist Mel Ramsden,. In the early 1970s, individuals including Ian Burn, Michael Corris, Preston Heller, Graham Howard, Joseph Kosuth, Andrew Menard, and Terry Smith joined the group. Two collaborators from Coventry, Philip Pilkington and David Rushton, followed. The relative degree of anonymity held within the group continues to have historical significance in the art community. Due to an uncertainty of the exact member lists, it is hard to know unequivocally not only who all of the contributors were but also what their exact contributions were.
The first issue of Art-Language(Volume 1, Number 1, May 1969) is named The Journal of Conceptual Art. By the second issue (Volume 1, Number 2, February 1970), it became clear that there were conceptual art pieces and conceptual artists for whom and to whom the journal did not speak. In order to better encompass the purpose of the journal, the title was abandoned. Art-Language had, however, brought to light the beginning of a new art movement. It was the first imprint to identify a public entity called Conceptual Art. The journal was the first of its kind to serve the theoretical and conversational interests of a community of artists and critics, who were also its producers and users. While that community was far from a unanimous agreement as to how to define the nature of conceptual art, the editors and most of its historic contributors shared similar opinions about other art movements. Conceptual art was critical of modernism for its bureaucracy and its historicism, and of minimalism for its philosophical conservatism. The practice of conceptual art, especially in its early years of origin, was primarily based on theory, and its form, predominately textual.
As the distribution of the journal and the teaching practices of the editors and others contributors expanded, the conversation grew to include more people. In England, by 1971, artists and critics including Charles Harrison, Philip Pilkington, David Rushton, Lynn Lemaster, Sandra Harrison, Graham Howard and Paul Wood[disambiguation needed] had joined. Around the same time in New York, Michael Corris joined, followed by Paula Ramsden, Mayo Thompson, Christine Kozlov, Preston Heller, Andrew Menard and Kathryn Bigelow.
The name Art & Language remained precarious due to the various interpretations of both the many pieces of art and the purpose of the group. Its significance, or instrumentality, varied from person to person, alliance to alliance, discourse to discourse, and from those in New York who produced The Fox (1974–1976), for example, to those engaged in music projects and those who continued the Journal's edition. There was disagreement among members, and by 1976, there was a growing sense of divide that eventually led to competing individualities and varied concerns.
Throughout the 1970s, Art & Language dealt with questions about art production and attempted a shift from conventional "nonlinguistic" forms of art, such as painting and sculpture, to more theoretically text-based works. The group often took argumentative positions against such prevailing views of critics like Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. The Art & Language group that exhibited in the international Documenta exhibitions of 1972 included Atkinson, Bainbridge, Baldwin, Hurrell, Pilkington, Rushton, and the American editor of Art-Language at the Joseph Kosuth. The work consisted of a filing system of material published and circulated by Art & Language members.
New York Art & Language
Burn and Ramsden co-founded The Society for Theoretical Art and Analysis in New York in the late 1960s. They joined Art & Language in 1970-71. New York Art & Language became fragmented after 1975 because of disagreements concerning principles of collaboration. Karl Beveridge and Carol Condé, who had been peripheral members of the group in New York, returned to Canada where they worked with trade unions and community groups. In 1977, Ian Burn returned to Australia and Mel Ramsden to the United Kingdom.
By the end of the 1970s, the group was essentially reduced to Baldwin, Harrison, and Ramsden with the occasional participation of Mayo Thompson and his group Red Crayola. The political analysis and development within the group resulted in several members leaving the group to work in more activist-oriented political occupations. Ian Burn returned to Australia, joining Ian Milliss, a conceptual artist who had begun work with trade unions in the early 1970s, in becoming active in Union Media Services, a design studio for social and community initiatives and the development of trade unions. Other members from the United Kingdom drifted off into a variety of creative, academic and sometimes "politicized" activities.
At the beginning of the 1970s, there were about thirty members. The Art & Language group emphasized the use of language on the theory that language is the basis from which ideas and concepts are built. Their philosophy was that language permits index words which appear, disappear, and for some even persist, thus allowing viewers and artists alike to analyze the evolution of a word through the proposal of different definitions.
The decisive action had become necessary if any vestige of Art & Language's original ethos was to remain.[neutrality is disputed] There were those who saw themselves excluded and departed for individual occupations in teaching or as artists. Others were immune to the troubles and simply found different work. Terry Atkinson was one group member who left the group in 1974. There were others whose departure was expedited by those whose practice continues to be identified with the journal Art-Language and its artistic commitments. Musical activities continued with Mayo Thompson and The Red Crayola. The literary conversational project continued with Charles Harrison (1942–2009). By late 1976, the genealogical thread of this artistic work had been taken into the hands of Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden, with whom it remains today.
Exhibitions and awards
Awards and critics
In 1986, Art & Language was nominated for the Turner Prize. In 1999, Art & Language exhibited at PS1 MoMA in New York, with a major installation entitled The Artist Out of Work. This was a recollection of Art & Language's dialogical and other practices, curated by Michael Corris and Neil Powell. This exhibition closely followed the revisionist exhibition of Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin at the Queens Museum of Art, also in New York. The Art & Language show at PS1 offered an alternative account of the antecedents and legacy of '"classic" conceptual art and reinforced a transatlantic rather than nationalistic version of events from 1968-1972. In a negative appraisal of the exhibition, art critic Jerry Saltz wrote, "A quarter century ago, 'Art & Language' forged an important link in the genealogy of conceptual art, but next efforts have been so self-sufficient and obscure that their work is now virtually irrelevant."
Other exhibits around the world include the works of Atkinson and Baldwin (working as Art & Language) held in the collection of the Tate in the United Kingdom. Papers and works relating to New York Art & Language are held at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. In March 2011, Philippe Méaille loaned 800 artworks of the Art & Language collective to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as MACBA. In April 2016, the Conseil départemental de Maine-et-Loire gave the keys of the Château de Montsoreau to Philippe Méaille to set up his contemporary art collection around the conceptual art of Art & Language and organize numerous events such as exhibitions and conferences.
- 1967 Hardware Show, Architectural Association, London.
- 1968 Dematerialisation Show, Ikon Gallery, London.
- 1971 The Air-Conditioning Show, Visual Arts Gallery, New York.
- 1972 The Art & Language Institute, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris.
- Documenta Memorandum, Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne.
- 1973 Index 002 Bxal, John Weber Gallery, New York.
- 1976 Music-Language, Galerie Eric Fabre, Paris.
- Art & Language, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.
- 1978 Flags for Organisations, Lisson Gallery, London.
- 1979 Ils donnent leur sang ; donnez votre travail, Galerie Eric Fabre, Paris.
- 1980 Portraits of V.I. Lenin in the Style of Jackson Pollock, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.
- 1982 Index : Studio at 3 Wesley Place Painted by Mouth, De Veeshal, Middelburg.
- Art & Language retrospective, Musée d'Art Moderne, Toulon.
- 1983 Index : Studio at 3 Wesley Place I, II, III, IV, Gewald, Ghent.
- 1986 Confessions : Incidents in a Museum, Lisson Gallery, London.
- 1987 Art & Language : The Paintings, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.
- 1990 Hostages XXIV-XXXV, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
- 1993 Art & Language, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris.
- 1995 Art & Language and Luhmann, Kunstraum, Vienna.
- 1996 Sighs Trapped by Liars, Galerie de Paris, Paris.
- 1999 Art & Language in Practice, Fundacio Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona.
- Cinco ensayos, Galerià Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid.
- The Artist out of Work : Art & Language 1972-1981, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York.
- 2000 Art & Language & Luhmann No.2, ZKM, Karlsruhe.
- 2002 Too Dark to Read : Motifs Rétrospectifs, Musée d'art moderne de Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d'Ascq.
- 2003 Art & Language, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich.
- 2004 Art & Language, CAC Màlaga, Màlaga.
- 2005 Hard to Say When, Lisson Gallery, London.
- 2006 Il ne reste qu'à chanter, Galerie de l'Erban, Nantes (Miroirs, 1965, Karaoke, 1975-2005) et Château de la Bainerie (travaux 1965-2005), Tiercé.
- 2008 Brouillages/Blurrings, Galerie Taddeus Ropac, Paris.
- 2009 Art & Language, Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki.
- 2010 Portraits and a Dream, Lisson Gallery, London.
- Art & Language, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.
- 2011 Badges, Mulier Mulier Gallery, Knokke.
- 2013 Letters to the Red Krayola, Kadel Wilborn Gallery, Düsseldorf.
- Art & Language, Museum Dhont-Dhaenens, Deurle.
- Art & Language, Garage Cosmos, Brussels.
- 2014 Art & Language Uncompleted : The Philippe Méaille Collection, MACBA, Barcelona.
Selected group exhibitions
- 1968 Language II, Dwan Gallery, London.
- 1969 March, catalogue-exposition, Seth Siegelaub, New York.
- 1970 Conceptual Art And Conceptual Aspects, New York Cultural Center, New York.
- Information, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- Idea Structures, Camden Art Centre, London.
- 1971 The British Avant-Garde, New York Cultural Center, New York.
- 1972 Documenta 5, Museum Friedericianum, Kassel.
- The New Art, Hayward Gallery, London.
- 1973 Einige Frühe Beispiele Konzeptuelle Kunst Analytischen Charakters, Galerie Paul Maenz, Cologne.
- Contemporanea, Rome.
- 1974 Projekt'74, Köln.
- Kunst über Kunst, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne.
- 1976 Drawing Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- Biennale di Venezia, Venice.
- 1979 Un Certain Art Anglais, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, Paris.
- 1980 Kunst in Europa na 68, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Ghent.
- 1982 Documenta 7, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel.
- 1987 British Art of the Twentieth Century: The Modern Movement, Royal Academy, London.
- 1989 The Situationists International, 1957-1972, Musée National d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
- L'art conceptuel, une perspective, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris; Fundación Caja de Prensiones, Madrid; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg.
- 1992 Repetición/Transformación, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
- 1995 Toponimías (8) : ocho ideas del espacio, Fundación La Caixa, Madrid.
- Reconsidering the Object of Art, 1965-1975, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
- 1997 Documenta 10, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel.
- 1999 Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin 1950s-1980s, Queens Museum of Art, New York.
- 2002 Iconoclash, Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe.
- 2003 Biennale di Venezia, Venice.
- 2004 Before the End (The Last Painting Show), Swiss Institute, New York.
- 2005 Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel.
- 2006 Le Printemps de Septembre à Toulouse - Broken Lines, Toulouse.
- Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.
- 2007 Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock'n Roll since 1967, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
- 2008 Vides. Une rétrospective, Musée National d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
- 2009 Rock-Paper-Scissors, Pop Music as Subject of Visual Art, Kunsthaus, Graz.
- 2010 Algunas Obras A Ler - Collection Eric Fabre, Berardo Museum, Lisbon.
- Seconde main, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris/ARC, Paris.
- 2011 Erre, Variations Labyrinthiques, Musée National d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz.
- 2012 Materialising 'Six Years': Lucy Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, Brooklyn museum, New York.
- 2013 As if it could . Works and Documents from the Herbert Foundation, Herbert Foundation, Ghent.
- 2014 Propanganda für die Wirklichkeit, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen.
- Critical Machines, American University, Beirut.
- 2017 ′′Art & Language′′,
Art & Language and the Jackson Pollock Bar collaborated for the first time in January 1995, during the Art & Language & Luhmann symposium, organized by the Contemporary Social Considerations Institute (Institut für Sozial Gegenwartsfragen) of Freiburg. The 3-day symposium saw the intervention of speakers including Catherine David, who prepared the Documenta X, and Peter Weibl, artist and curator. There was also a theoretical installation of a Art & Language text produced in playback by the Jackson Pollock Bar. The installation was interpreted by five German actors playing the roles of Jack Tworkow, Philip Guston, Harold Rosenberg, Robert Motherwell and Ad Reinhardt. Using lip sync, the actors used pre-recorded text for a "New Conceptual" conversation. Ever since this collaboration, each new Art & Language exhibition has been joined by a Jackson Pollock Bar theoretical installation.
Past members and associates
- Terry Atkinson
- David Bainbridge
- Kathryn Bigelow
- Ian Burn
- Sarah Charlesworth
- Michael Corris
- Preston Heller
- Graham Howard
- Harold Hurrell
- Joseph Kosuth
- Christine Kozlov
- Nigel Lendon
- Andrew Menard
- Philip Pilkington
- Neil Powell
- David Rushton
- Terry Smith
- Mayo Thompson
- "Art & Language | Artists | Lisson Gallery". www.lissongallery.com. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
- Neil Mulholland, The Cultural Devolution: art in Britain in the late twentieth century, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2003, p165. ISBN 0-7546-0392-X
- "Art & Language | Tate". www.tate.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
- Charles Green, The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism, UNSW Press, 2001, p47. ISBN 0-86840-588-4
- "Art & Language".
- Anna Bentkowska-Kafel, Trish Cashen, Hazel Gardiner, Digital Visual Culture: Theory and Practice, Intellect Books, 2009, p104. ISBN 1-84150-248-0
- Charles Green, The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism, UNSW Press, 2001, p48. ISBN 0-86840-588-4
- Jerry Saltz, Seeing out loud: the Voice art columns, fall 1998-winter 2003, Geoffrey Young, 2003, p293. ISBN 1-930589-17-4
- Un tresor al Macba
- Nicolas Rapold, "Interview: Kathryn Bigelow Goes Where the Action Is," Village Voice, 23 June 2009.  Access date: 27 June 2009.
- Interview with Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden about Art & Language (2011) MP3
- Works by Art & Language at the Mulier Mulier Gallery
- Art & Language page at Lisson Gallery
- Art & Language: Blurting in A & L online Hypertext version of a complete print work of 1973 by American members of Art & Language, with articles and a discussion forum.
- Thomas Dreher: Intermedia Art: Konzeptuelle Kunst with four German articles on Art & Language and a chronology with illustrated works.
- Artists group page in Artfacts.Net with actual major exhibitions.
- Andrew Hunt, Art & Language, Frieze, October 2005.
- Tom Morton, Art & Language, Frieze, April 2002.
- El análisis crítico de la modernidad de Art & Language
- Art & Language at René Schmitt Druckgraphik
- Official site of MoMA PS1, New York
- Official site of MoMA, New York
- Official site of Tate Modern, London
- Official site of Centre Pompidou, Paris
- Official site of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- Official site of Fundacio Tapies, Barcelona
- Official site of Château de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art
- Official site of MACBA, Barcelona
- Official site of Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Saint-Etienne
- Official site of ZKM, Karlsruhe
- Official site of CAC, Malaga
- Official site of MAMCO, Geneva
- Official site of Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki
- Official site of Lisson Gallery
- Official site of Taddeus Ropac Gallery
- Official site of Mullier-Mullier Gallery
- Official site of Kadel Willborn Gallery