Conceptual Art and BeyondConceptual art is defined by concepts or ideas taking precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Learning Objectives Relate the development of conceptual art to both formalism and the dematerialization of art Key Points Conceptual art emerged as a movement during the 1960s. In part, it was a reactionagainst formalism articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg.Some have argued that conceptual art continued this dematerialization of art by removingthe need for objects altogether, while others, including many of the artists themselves,saw conceptual art as a radical break with Greenberg’s formalist modernism.French artist Marcel Duchamp paved the way for the conceptualists, providing examplesof prototypically conceptual works such as his ready-mades.Conceptual artists began a far more radical interrogation of art than was previouslypossible. One of the first and most important things they questioned was the commonassumption that the role of the artist was to create special kinds of material objects.The notion that art should examine its own nature was already a potent aspect of theinfluential art critic Clement Greenberg’s vision of modern art during the 1950s.Key Terms conceptualist: An artist involved in the conceptualism movement.dematerialization: The act or process of dematerializing.Formalism, Dematerialization and the Commodification of Art Conceptual art is defined by the concepts of a work taking precedence over the traditional aesthetic and material concerns. It began to emerge as a movement during the 1960s, in part as a reaction against formalism as then articulated by the influential New York art critic Clement Greenberg. According to Greenberg, modern art followed a process of progressive reduction and refinement toward the goal of defining the essential, formal nature of each medium. The task of painting, for example, was to define precisely what kind of object a painting truly is: what makes it a painting and nothing else. For example, if the nature of paintings is as flat canvas objects onto which colored pigment is applied, elements such as figuration, 3-D perspective illusion, and references to external subject matter were extraneous to the essence of painting and should thus be removed.