I hope my points here won't be too disorganized. I'm hoping for other people's input on this:
So, according to MoMA, "Conceptual Art" is a "term applied to work produced from the mid-1960s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas."
That makes sense, but how do we categorize artworks formed around perceptual concepts? Are they still considered conceptual artwork or do they have a different designation?
I've talked with a couple of people before now who are of the opinion that pieces formed around perceptual concepts would fall into the category of decoration. They can be well executed, but since they're formed around appearances, they are still decoration, with decoration being a designation that makes them less intellectually or artistically valuable. They're basically seen as "shallow."
I think that visual concepts can be just as interesting and well thought out as any concept that only uses visuals as a medium, but I'm not sure how to justify this position.
If I look around at modern/contemporary art, there are many respected artists for whom perceptual concepts seem to take precedence throughout an entire body of work or a piece. When most people talk about Jesús Soto's penetrables, they seem to focus on the perceptual experience of it. They're installation pieces. Viewers of the artwork get inside the sculptures, touch them, and move them around. However, Soto is adhering to a preformed idea when he creates them. Even though he conveys a perceptual experience, he also wants to express ideas about impermanence, etc.
--SotoIn the future as in the past, my art will remain linked to the uncertain, taking care not to try to express the permanent, the unchangeable. For I have never sought to show reality caught at one precise moment, but, on the contrary, to reveal universal change, of which temporality and infinitude are the constituent values. The universe, I believe, is uncertain and unsettled. The same must be true of my work.
He's considered a totally legitimate artist, but I have trouble seeing how he's any different from a lot of artists that would be considered decorative according to the discussion that I mentioned before. I'm not saying that he isn't different from them or that he isn't the same, it's just that I don't understand.
For comparison, I'll bring up James Jean. I don't know everything about his work, but from appearances it SEEMS that the primary focus of his work are the strong visual concepts that he is able to portray through it. There might definitely be another, deeper meaning behind his work, but if there is I'm not currently aware of it. I don't intend to be disrespectful toward him or misrepresent him by doing this (as I said, I don't know the whole truth), but here I'm going to posit that his visual concepts and execution are the primary idea behind his work. I don't think it would be inaccurate to assume that this is the primary element that draws most people to his work.
Are his works really just considered decoration because of this? In conclusion/TL;DR: If they are considered decoration, what's the difference between decoration that is "merely" decoration, and decoration that is lauded and be featured in modern galleries? Is it just execution?
If it is considered conceptual, then why are some perceptual concepts considered valid, while others are considered "just decoration"? Is it just because some perceptual work is just subjectively better? How does an artist working with visual concepts gain legitimacy?
Please help! I don't know that much about art terms and history, so I'm trying to get this sorted in my head.