New York

“Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s”

Queens Museum

“Global Conceptualism” made two claims. It suggested that Conceptualism—the visual presentation of a linguistic idea—was an international phenomenon and that its emergence was inextricable from the leftist, postcolonial politics of the ’60s and ’70s. Both arguments implied a critique of previous formulations. First, the show pointed up the Western bias of such important earlier surveys as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’s “L’art conceptuel, une perspective” (1989) and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Reconsidering the Object of Art, 1965–1975” (1995). Second, by promoting a notion of Conceptualism as political intervention, the exhibition weighed against a more reflexive, “formalist” post-Minimal activity, aka the “Conceptual art” proposed by Sol LeWitt and Joseph Kosuth in the late ’60s.

Did it work? The standard story of Conceptualism, which leads from

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