What is it about conceptual art that so winds me up? It's almost irrational. Perhaps it is because I do not have the necessary kind of imagination. When I see an everyday object in a gallery, I see an everyday object. I don't see beyond that. It does not speak to me.
These are ideas made flesh, which could easily be a description of all art however these are ideas seemingly without the aesthetic considerations that have underpinned art through the centuries. The aesthetic has been burned away, sacrificed at the alter of ideology, forsaken for the desire to be shocking. In being refined so, conceptual art has lost the appearance of skilled creation. It has been refined so that its language has become so etheric as to be near invisible.
For those uneducated in, or simply unaware of this language, it can easily be interpreted as an inside joke, part of a clique to which you are not invited. Of all the art forms to exist, it surely must be the most exclusionary.
It becomes an elitist practice, made by a small group of people for a small group of people. For the majority it can therefore reinforce the idea that art, all art, is only for the elite – an idea only further bolstered when conceptual art is almost the only contemporary art to, somewhat ironically, be given mass media exposure.
It could be argued that its prominence is in part due to a mess-media built on, and hungry for, short term sensationalism, scandal and shock. Few art forms can so readily feed that maw.