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Story: Post-object and conceptual art

Instead of creating objects out of clay, wood or stone, post-object artists assembled materials and staged events in carefully selected locations. Their aim was to make audiences think about ideas and experiences.

Story by Christina Barton
Main image: Andrew Drummond's 1980 performance piece, 'Filter action'

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What is post-object art?

Post-object art is the term that was used from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s to describe art that was temporary, often consisting of installations or performances. In the 2000s it is more often called ‘conceptual art’. Post-object art was about ideas, rather than simply technique.

The rise of post-object art

Post-object art initially came out of the sculpture departments of art schools in the late 1960s. Some important post-object artists, such as Jim Allen, taught in those art schools.

Post-object artists often challenged the commercial art world. Their works were sometimes exhibited or presented in art galleries, but sometimes in other spaces such as showgrounds or even beaches.

Because the artworks were temporary, they usually survive only in photographs, videos or written accounts.

After 1975 many key artists either left New Zealand or went on to do something else, for example Leon Narbey became a film-maker.

Revival of interest, 1990s to 2000s

In the 1990s there was renewed interest in post-object art, with exhibitions and a conference. Some New Zealand galleries and museums acquired post-object artworks, which they had previously not collected.

Younger artists made art inspired by post-object art ideas, sometimes ‘re-making’ work by the earlier post-object artists.

How to cite this page:

Christina Barton, 'Post-object and conceptual art', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/post-object-and-conceptual-art (accessed 21 January 2018)

Story by Christina Barton, published 22 Oct 2014