Conceptual Art is a term coined in the 1960s by the US artist Henry Flynt for a modern art movement.
Originating in minimalism, conceptual art is ultimately a collective term for a further development of tendencies in abstract painting and for different art movements such as object art or happenings, which consider the idea of the meaning of a work of art to have priority over its realisation.
Mel Bochner's first exhibition in 1966, "Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art" at the Gallery of the School of Visual Arts in New York, is considered the first exhibition of the conceptual art movement. In 1969, the first museum exhibition of conceptual art in Germany took place at the Museum Morsbroich in Leverkusen.
The execution of the artwork is of secondary importance and does not have to be done by the artist himself. The focus is on the concept and idea, which are considered equally important for the artistic work. In this sense, finished paintings and sculptures are replaced by sketches, written documents, instruction texts or, under certain circumstances, artist's books, which develop their own aesthetic qualities. One of the aims is the "dematerialisation" of the artwork and the involvement of the viewer. Familiar ways of seeing, concepts and contexts of the world are questioned, new rules are invented. Contexts, meanings and associations are worked with.
Theorists of conceptual art are Mel Bochner, Sol LeWitt, Art & Language, Joseph Kosuth and Victor Burgin. An artistic role model of this movement was Marcel Duchamp. He distinguished his art from "retinal art", which acts predominantly on the eye (for example, in a gimmicky way) rather than as an idea or linking of meaning in thought. This approach often makes conceptual art seem elitist, brittle and difficult to access to the layperson. Some works of conceptual art can only be understood through an examination of the artist and his or her thinking.