Approaching Conceptual Art | Talent & Skill

From an early age we are led to appreciate talent, and in appreciating the talent and achievements of others we set goals and create ambitions for ourselves. The talent of others can inspire us to realize who we are.

Talent is a large factor within traditional art. We’ll often judge something by how well it has been crafted; how talented the artist is, and how he has manifested this talent within his art. Talent and skill are valuable commodities within society, and they are ideas that we understand from an early age. We aspire to do ‘a good job’, and we appreciate the skill of others; from plasterers, to surgeons, to painters: skills are a universal language and a valued commodity.

To judge a person’s work based upon the skill and talent it displays is an entirely natural, and often necessary, approach. However, when confronted with conceptual art this approach can let us down. We’ve seen that conceptual art deals in ideas, not objects. We can’t judge an idea on its aesthetic value or its technical precision, so it may seem that the only option available to us is to assess the objects that convey this idea - the art that confronts us within the gallery space.

However, as we’ve already seen, conceptual art pieces are often only created as symbols. It is useful to think of them as doors, through which we gain access to the idea. So to judge the door on its aesthetic value or its technical merits is to miss what lies beyond. In getting stuck at the door we fail to appreciate what waits for us behind it.