In the 1960s, a dramatic reorientation took place in modern art. Many artists veered towards seeing art in terms of actions, processes and concepts, rather than as objects. The old genres were dissolved, and the traditional art materials were mixed with spontaneous ideas and everyday objects. Conceptualism accentuated the significance of thoughts and ideas in the artistic process, and the language became a key element.
Art as idea, language and process
Öyvind Fahlström encouraged his viewers to “manipulate” language. Early in his oeuvre, he experimented with various media, including painting, printing, performance, radio and film. Several of his works are in the form of board games, where markers are moved by the viewer along a course of economic relationships and political statements.
Post-Partum Document: Documentation V, Classified Specimens, Proportional Diagrams, Statistical Tables, Research and Index, 1977
© Mary Kelly
Both Susan Hiller and Mary Kelly were early explorers of communication beyond image and language. In her work Post-Partum Document, Mary Kelly documents how a child gradually masters language, and how values relating to gender and identity are passed on via language.
Marcel Broodthaers and Hans Haacke were among the first to criticise the art museum as an institution. Broodthaers created his own museum for eagles, and Haacke’s work emphasised the role of audiences as culture consumers and political subjects. Around 1970, he performed a number of audience surveys, revealing the mechanisms of the art system, but also the role of culture in social power structures.