Languages of publication
By accepting one of the definitions applied to conceptualism in the research on this genre, as art that “takes the form of objects under the condition that they have a secondary function in parallel with an idea” I draw attention to an exceptional artistic case, that I call a Polish proto-conceptualism. This phenomenon occurred in the first half of the sixties, that is before Seth Siegelaub’s exhibition in New York (1969), accepted as the beginning of conceptualism, or even before Sol LeWitt’s article in Artforum entitled “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” when the term, preceding the trend itself, was introduced into the language of art. For this reason I describe the above mentioned artistic experiments of clear conceptual characteristics, which preceded the accepted beginning of conceptualism, as protoconceptualism. I include four Polish artists in this category: Andrzej Pawlowski – an author of Cineforms (1957) that were famous in the sixties and “The concept of an energy field” (1966); Jerzy Rosolowicz – the author of the “Theory on the function of the form” (1963) and objects made of lenses and prisms that according to the artist were mere examples of his theory of neutral act; Roman Opałka with his ‘counted paintings’ (1965) that documented the idea of a fight with time; and Ryszard Winiarski inspired by the probability theory, who asked about determinism or indeterminism and treated his works not as paintings but as “Attempts of visual presentation by statistical charts”. Contrary to a typical conceptualism, (which was expressed as a record of processes, place marks, announcements, photographic documentation or mail art that was popular in Poland after 1970 and was inspired by similar activities by artists from Western Europe and the USA – the art of the described Polish proto-conceptualists was purely original and autonomous. It was precursory towards the global understanding of conceptualism and, what is very important, in their activity these artists generated an important message with which a significant concept, philosophical idea or analytic reflection was included.
Publication order reference