PRINT February 1970

Alice’s Head: Reflections on Conceptual Art

“Did you say ‘pig,’ or ‘fig’?” said the cat. “I said ‘pig,’” replied Alice, “and I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly; you make one quite giddy.”

“All right,” said the cat, and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice, “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

CONCEPTUAL ART RESEMBLES LITERATURE only superficially. What it really characterizes is a decided shift in sensory ratios. As a result Conceptualism poses a paradox: Can art free itself from the effects of the page in type only by adopting the printed form?

The problem with vulgar McLuhanism is that it makes more sense than any refined theory of media.

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