‘Art is not only made with your hands’
With reference to this statement, discuss the significance of conceptual practice to artmaking. Refer to a range of examples in your answer.
Some things to consider;
- Significance is agreed to mean “the quality of being worthy of attention; importance” and / or ‘having notable worth or influence. : the meaning of something’
- What is conceptual practice? and how does it relate to artmaking?
Of course the most obvious extrapolation here is that whilst the hands are essential for making art, they do so in concert with observation, intention, discrimination, skill, material sensibility and the like.
Where does ‘conceptual practice’ fit into all of this? Arguably; inspiration / idea / concept must in some way come before a work takes physical form.
Why is ‘conceptual practice’ worthy of attention?, why is it important? what influence does it exert on the practice of an artist?
This question brings into focus things associated with the act of making. Because to make ‘something’ there must be a means through which the process is carried out and acts on the material being used or modified to “make”. In art practice we normally associate the ‘making agent’ with the hands. Hands paint, prepare, draw. sculpt, photograph, print, arrange, manipulate etc in the process of creating ‘art’. The term ‘art’ is also called into question simply because one should consider whether there are forms of ‘art’ that can exist or come into being without the assistance of the ‘hand’ or ‘hands’ to make. Most likely an exercise in semantics but still something worthy of consideration.
However the core consideration is the significance of ‘conceptual practice’. Before considering this its worth asking what ‘art’ can come into being that does not have some conceptual consideration or prior idea seeking expression as the motivation for making?
Automatism comes to mind.
Now back to the statement. ‘art is not only made with the hands’. Here the qualifier is ‘only’. It’s not saying that art isn’t made with the hands but that it (the hands) are not the only agency at work.
Consider these statements from Sol Lewitt;
- “The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept”.
- “Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical”.
- one may start with a concept that never reaches maturation.
- the direction a concept takes depends on the ideas spawned by it.
- an artist may discard or utilize any idea in the chain arising from the concept.
This is a ‘Practice’ question and so in choosing artists to support your response it would be wise to use only those whose art-making practice you understand well and for whom you can articulate / discuss the development of artworks from concept to form in terms of practice.
If you felt up to the challenge you could debunk the opening statement and contest that it is impossible to make art without the assistance of the hands, either the artists or someone else’s, since the production of anything that has an aesthetic material form in line with the notion of art requires a human agency.