I just came across this video of Dan Graham lambasting conceptual art via Out of Sync: Art in Focus. He criticizes conceptual art’s lack of accessibility, and lets Seth Siegelaub have it:
Dan Graham: People characterize me as [a] conceptual [artist] but I do not think I am [a] conceptual [artist]. I hate conceptual art, I don’t believe in it.
Off-camera interviewer: Why?
Graham: Because it’s bullshit. It’s about art and philosophy. Lawrence Weiner, when he began, the work was halfway between poetry and sculpture, and it was brilliant, it was just statements. But official conceptual art, like with Seth Siegelaub, I think is absolute bullshit. The idea that art is about philosophy, I don’t agree. One simple idea about conceptual art is that it’s available for anyone to understand, which is simply not true…the whole textbook conceptual art thing I absolutely hate, as it’s taught in schools.
Graham also says some rather problematic things that seem kind of well-intentioned but are nonetheless rather problematic:
I think i’m dealing with first impressions as a child, in other words, the mirror stage. I have to say, as a male feminist, the work is voyeuristic. And girls love it much more than boys, particularly as I use concave and convex forms. Boys can see themselves as superman on the concave side, overweight women can see themselves as very thin. So it’s like a funhouse situation…
As a “non-male feminist” who both respects Graham’s work and doesn’t say stuff like “overweight women like my work because it makes them look thin,” I do not know how to take this.
*Image of Dan Graham’s “Hedge Two-Way Mirror” at the Met courtesy citypass.com