Unveiling Invisible Art: Conceptual & Performance-Based Works
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Exploring the Invisible in Art
  2. The Emergence of Conceptual Art
  3. Notable Conceptual Artists and Their Works
  4. Performance Art as Invisible Art
  5. Famous Performance Artists and Their Invisible Artworks
  6. The Impact of Invisible Art in Contemporary Art
  7. How to Appreciate Invisible Art

Imagine walking into an art gallery where the walls are bare, and the rooms are seemingly empty. This is not a case of the emperor’s new clothes, but a dive into the intriguing realm of invisible art. Here, we will be unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions and redefine the way we understand art.

Exploring the Invisible in Art

Invisible art, as the name suggests, is a form of art that isn't visibly apparent. It can be a concept, a performance, or an idea that is presented as an artwork. This form of art isn't about what you see, but what it makes you think or feel.

The Essence and Nature of Invisible Art

At its core, invisible art isn't about creating physical pieces, but about provoking thought and stimulating discussion. The art is in the idea and the impact it has on the viewer. Here are few key characteristics of invisible art:

  • Concept-focused: The main focus is on the idea or concept behind the artwork, rather than its physical presence.
  • Provokes thought: Invisible art is aimed at making you think, question, and explore ideas or perspectives you may not have considered.
  • Challenges conventions: This form of art defies traditional ideas of what art should be and look like.

Invisible Art: A Brief History

Invisible art emerged in the late 20th century, during a time of significant exploration and experimentation in the art world. Here's a quick timeline of how it evolved:

  1. In the 1960s, artists began to experiment with the idea of art as a concept or an experience, rather than a physical object.
  2. By the 1970s, invisible art had become a recognizable movement, with artists such as Yoko Ono and John Cage producing works that challenged the perception of what constitutes art.
  3. Into the 21st century, invisible art continues to evolve, with artists using it as a tool to comment on society and challenge the status quo.

With this knowledge, you're now ready to dive deeper into the world of invisible art, unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that not only challenge perceptions but also redefine the boundaries of traditional art.

The Emergence of Conceptual Art

As we continue our journey through the landscape of invisible art, we now turn our attention to the emergence of conceptual art. Conceptual art, a significant pillar of invisible art, is all about the idea behind the artwork. It's here where creators began to push the boundaries, challenging perceptions and shifting the focus from the physical to the intellectual.

Conceptual Art: A Shift in Perspective

Conceptual art represents a paradigm shift in the art world. Rather than focusing on aesthetics, conceptual art is all about the idea. The physical work is merely a conduit for the concept. It's like reading a great book—while the words are essential, it's the thoughts and emotions they provoke that make the experience memorable. Let's unpack this a bit more:

  • Concept over form: In conceptual art, the idea is king. The physical artwork is secondary to the concept it represents.
  • Democratization of art: By focusing on ideas over aesthetics, conceptual art opens up the art world to a broader audience. You don't need to be an art expert to appreciate a thought-provoking idea.

The Birth of Conceptual Art

Conceptual art emerged during the 1960s as a radical departure from traditional art forms. This era was a hotbed of social and political upheaval, and artists were pushing boundaries like never before. Here's a brief peek into this pivotal era:

  1. The term 'conceptual art' was first used by the artist Sol LeWitt in 1967, although the practice predates the term by a few years.
  2. Conceptual art quickly gained traction, with artists like Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner making significant contributions to the movement.
  3. By the late 1970s, conceptual art had firmly established its place in the art world, challenging perceptions and redefining what art could be.

As we continue unveiling the invisible art, we see how conceptual art laid the groundwork for a new understanding of art — not as a physical object, but as an idea that can incite thought, spark discussion, and challenge perceptions.

Notable Conceptual Artists and Their Works

Now that we've set the stage exploring the emergence of conceptual art, let's meet some of the pioneers of this invisible art form. These artists dared to think differently and, in doing so, forever changed the art world.

Joseph Kosuth and 'One and Three Chairs'

Joseph Kosuth is one of the luminaries in the field of conceptual art. His piece titled 'One and Three Chairs' is a striking example of invisible art: unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions. This work consists of three elements:

  1. A physical chair
  2. A photograph of the chair
  3. A dictionary definition of a chair

Through this work, Kosuth invites you to ponder the concept of representation. Which representation of a chair is the most 'real'? It's a juicy bit of food for thought, isn't it?

Sol LeWitt and His Wall Drawings

Remember Sol LeWitt, the man who coined the term 'conceptual art'? His Wall Drawings series is another brilliant example of invisible art. Here's how it works:

  • LeWitt creates a set of instructions for a drawing.
  • These instructions are then executed by someone else, often in a gallery setting.

The result is a stunning piece of art that LeWitt himself never physically touched. By separating the idea from the execution, LeWitt challenges traditional notions of authorship and originality.

As we delve further into invisible art, these notable conceptual artists serve as guideposts, showing us how they used their creative powers to challenge perceptions and push the boundaries of what art can be.

Performance Art as Invisible Art

Moving from conceptual art, let's now leap into the vibrant world of performance art. Often fleeting and transient, performance art is another instance of invisible art: unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions.

What is Performance Art?

Let's start with the basics. Performance art is a type of art where the artist's actions form the piece. It's live, it's happening right in front of you, and it's often unrepeatable. It's like catching a lightning bug in a jar—once the performance is over, that's it. No reruns or encores.

Why is Performance Art Considered Invisible Art?

Think about it: you can't put a performance in a frame or display it in a gallery. Once the performance is over, what's left? You can't touch it, you can't see it, but you experienced it. It's invisible but undeniably real, much like our emotions or thoughts. This ephemeral and intangible aspect is what makes performance art a part of the invisible art family.

Performance art pushes the boundaries of traditional art forms, making us rethink what art can be. As we continue to unveil the invisible in art, we'll see how these performances have left indelible marks on the landscape of contemporary art.

Famous Performance Artists and Their Invisible Artworks

Just as we've explored the realm of invisible art in conceptual works, let's spotlight some notable pioneers in performance art. Their works have not only challenged perceptions but also expanded the definition of art itself.

Marina Abramović: The Grandmother of Performance Art

When it comes to pushing boundaries, Marina Abramović is a name that often comes up. Known as the grandmother of performance art, Abramović's works often involve intense physical and mental challenges. One of her most famous works is "The Artist is Present", where she sat silently across from museum visitors for hours. This work exquisitely embodies invisible art: unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions.

Yoko Ono: A Pioneer of Conceptual and Performance Art

Yes, the same Yoko Ono you know as John Lennon's partner. But did you know she's also a groundbreaking performance artist? One of her most significant works is "Cut Piece". During the performance, Ono invited audience members to cut off pieces of her clothing until she was nearly bare. This act was a powerful statement on vulnerability and the objectification of women.

Chris Burden: The Radical Performer

Chris Burden took performance art to extremes often involving physical danger. In his infamous work "Shoot", a friend shot Burden in his arm with a rifle. This shocking performance art piece forced the audience to confront the reality of violence and its consequences.

These artists and their invisible artworks have significantly shaped the landscape of contemporary art, demonstrating that art can transcend physical forms and reside in the realm of experience and perception.

The Impact of Invisible Art in Contemporary Art

You might wonder—how does the idea of invisible art fit into today's art world, and why is it significant? Well, let's dive in.

The Shift in Perception

Invisible art has played a pivotal role in changing how we perceive and define art. Traditionally, art was about the creation of tangible objects—paintings, sculptures, and so on. However, invisible art: unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions, has prompted us to think of art as an experience, a concept, or even a performance. It's not just about what you see; it's about what you feel and think.

Freedom of Expression

Invisible art also offers artists a broader canvas for expression. With no physical constraints, artists like Abramović, Ono, and Burden could explore themes like vulnerability, objectification, and violence in a raw, visceral way. The impact is often profound and lasting, leaving the audience with questions and thoughts long after the performance ends.

Influence on Other Art Forms

Lastly, the influence of invisible art can be seen in other art forms, such as music, theatre, and dance. Concepts and techniques from invisible art have been integrated into these mediums, enriching them and pushing their boundaries.

Invisible art has undeniably left its mark on contemporary art. It has challenged conventional wisdom, opened new avenues for expression, and influenced a wide range of creative fields. It's not just about art that you can't see; it's about art that makes you see things differently.

How to Appreciate Invisible Art

Now that we've explored the impact of invisible art, let's talk about how to engage with it. Because let's face it—appreciating invisible art: unveiling the conceptual and performance-based artworks that challenge perceptions isn't always straightforward.

Keep an Open Mind

The first step is to keep an open mind. Remember, invisible art isn't about creating visually attractive pieces. It's about conveying an idea or an experience. So, don't try to look for something that isn't there. Instead, focus on feeling and understanding the artist's intent.

Engage with the Art

Next, engage with the art. Don't just stand there—think, question, and reflect. What does the piece make you feel? What does it make you think about? Even if it's puzzling or uncomfortable, that's part of the experience.

Do Your Homework

Finally, don't be afraid to do some homework. Read up on the artist and the artwork. Understanding the context can provide valuable insights and enrich your experience.

Appreciating invisible art can be a unique, rewarding experience. It's not about seeing; it's about understanding and feeling. And who knows? It might just change the way you look at the world.

If you've enjoyed exploring the world of invisible art and wish to dive deeper into conceptual and performance-based works, don't miss the workshop 'An Idea: Conveying Art Conceptually' by Crystal Ma. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to help you effectively express your artistic ideas through conceptual means. Start your journey to mastering the art of conveying concepts today!