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Conceptual Art Movement - Exhibitions in London

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by Nathan Howard (subscribe)
Nathan Howard. I'm a second year student living in London. I like to share my experiences with other's to inform them on London and what it has to offer!
Published July 16th 2017
Art gallery London Modern Museum
Robert Barry, Inert Gas Series, 1969

With the likes of Tate Modern and many other galleries dedicated to modern and conceptual art, an understanding of this newly developing and ever-changing art form is crucial.

Conceptualism emerged as early as the 1960's and is a term often used to describe work created during this time. However, by definition conceptual art is an umbrella term used to describe all work where the concept is prioritised over its aesthetic outcome. For example, a piece may be based on oppression in North Korea, and the artist will use any materials or medium he/she feels fit to best represent this theme- but what won't be considered is what the piece will necessarily look like.
Art gallery London Modern Museum
Modern-Conceptual Art, Chelsea School of Art Summer Show

Studying Fine Art myself, I've noticed an entirely different understanding to conceptual art in my social circles (those particularly knowledgeable of art) and the average person. Because of this 'neglect' that happens to a conceptual arts aesthetic, the outcome is often minimalistic, abstract and thought-provoking forms which we see in galleries such as Tate Modern. I think understanding the process of understanding conceptual art is key to ensure a more positive opinion surrounding conceptual and modern art.

To help understand conceptual art more, we'll look at an artist whose work defines conceptualism in all its glory. Robert Barry's 'Inert gas Series, 1969' is a photograph of a gas canister in a dessert. Although the piece to many may seem simplistic and somewhat random, the photograph's composition was carefully considered, and it's concept aiming to challenge perceptions of aesthetic and to think beyond what we see. Robert Barry gives us one clue in the name, 'Inert gas series', or 'an expansion of gas' which is present in the photo. The photo claims to photograph a gas canister dispersing gas into the atmosphere. Of course, we can't see the gas being dispersed in the image and must trust that the gas is present in the photograph. Pieces such as this in the 1960's helped challenged the way we perceive an image and changed the importance of an artwork's aesthetic. Of course the artist could be lying about gas being present in the photo, but whether it is or not- it's sense of mystery only made the image more popular, and also reminded us of the power of a camera, the ability to adjust and position a camera to make others believe the fact of what they see through its lens.

Exhibitions in London showcasing modern and conceptual art can be found easily; here are a few of London's top Modern art exhibitions:

fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern- Until 8th Oct 2017

Salon 002: Bram Bogart, Saatchi Gallery- 12th July-10th September 2017

A museum of modern nature, Wellcome Collection- 22nd June-8th Oct 2017

In Formation', Institute of Contemporary Arts, 18th July-20th Aug 2017

Emma Hart 'Mamma Mia!', Whitechapel gallery, 12th July-3rd September 2017

Whatever form of conceptual art may take, there's plenty of it! Hopefully, a better understanding of its purpose and past will help you have a better experience at your next modern art gallery!
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Why? Understanding Modern Art
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Where: Art Galleries/Museums
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