a brief history of invisible art


In his 1962 essay ‘After Abstract Expressionism’ Clement Greenberg argued that ‘[u]nder the testing of Modernism more and more of the conventions of the art of painting have shown themselves to be dispensable, unessential […] thus a stretched or tacked-up canvas already exists as a picture – though not necessarily as a successful one’. The Modernist critic could hardly have guessed that this ‘tacked-up canvas’, for him merely a rhetorical possibility, would become an important touchstone for subsequent art practice, much as the monochrome had been for a previous generation of artists. The missing object and empty room have become Conceptual art’s degree zero, gesturing towards the conventions that ‘frame’ raw material as art and making room for the forms of openness, contradiction, paradox and irresolution that are contemporary art’s essential condition.

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