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What were the basic ideas behind Minimal Art and Conceptual Art in the sixties?

Conceptual and Minimal Art were overlapping and connected twentieth century artistic movements which developed strongly in the 1960s, and which were characterised by a reaction against more traditional forms of representational art. The aims of both could perhaps be summarised by 'non-perceptual and non-aesthetic' since both conceptual and minimal art aimed to undermine the notion of the supremacy of the physicality of the art object as a given.

In this essay I will attempt to trace the background and artistic conditions which led to the particular development of these two movements in the sixties, as well as analysing the philosophy behind each movement as it was articulated in this period.

After the sixties, the definition of what continued to be known as both Conceptual and Minimalist art shifted. PostMinimalism, in the work of artists such as Eva Hesse and more recently Anish Kapoor, drew on the ethics and intentions of Minimalism with very different agendas and results in their manipulation and diversification of surface, medium, form and texture. Conceptual art has continued to widen and diversify as a category away from the definitive form developed in the sixties. In particular, the move towards an even extreme commodification of the art object, such as in the 'conceptual' work of 'Young British Artist' Damien Hirst, almost always preoccupied by the art market and the value of the art object (such as his recent For The Love of God created in 2007). Hirst also experimented with the ideas of classical Minimalism (in, for instance, his 'dot' paintings) but with a consistent discourse of authorship and value.

Minimal and Conceptual Art arose in the sixties in a 'pure' form responding to the artistic, cultural, social or political context of the day. In their origins they both reacted against and stemmed from previous artistic movements and in many senses operated as a pivot point - a moment of revolution in art. The reverberations of this revolution continue today to put into question what constitutes 'art', concepts such as artistic progress and style, and the nature and role of the artistic establishment.

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