The introduction addresses two intersecting trajectories in American art between the late 1960s and the early twenty-first-century century. On the one hand, it traces the ways in which disciplinary Conceptual Art, with a capital “C”, expanded into the diverse set of practices that have been characterised generally as conceptualism. On the other hand, it shows how the expansion of a critical conceptualism has been strongly informed by the turbulent rights-based politics of the 1960s. Initially, first generation Conceptual artists responded to preceding art movements within disciplinary boundaries, examining the definition of art itself and engaging abstract concerns. Artists then applied the basic principles of Conceptual Art to address a range of social and political issues. This development reflects the influence of Civil Rights, Black Power, the student movement, the anti-war movement, second wave feminism, and the gay liberation movement. Central in the American context, the multiple identity-based mobilisations that came to be known as “identity politics” were further articulated in the 1970s. The artists addressed in this book: Adrian Piper, Joseph Kosuth, David Hammons, Renée Green, Mary Kelly, Martha Rosler, Silvia Kolbowski, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Lorna Simpson, Andrea Fraser, Hans Haacke, and Charles Gaines expanded the propositions of Conceptual Art.
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