The Art of Communication

CHAPTER 4: Art as information

Conceptual artists pushed the limits of art until it became reduced to an idea that existed in their minds, which they sometimes documented in visual and written forms. Conceptual art emerged from this interest in experimenting with concepts, images, words, and unorthodox materials. In some cases, the artwork becomes a word or a phrase, unifying text and image. Words are presented as if they were visual elements, with care for size, color,and shape, but without losing their ability to signify given meanings. In other cases, the viewer is presented with an image, and given additional written information to interpret the artwork.

You Belong Here

Tavares Strachan
Nassau, The Bahamas, 1979 -

You Belong Here
Yellow neon, two transformers
60.9 x 154.9 x 1 cm (24 x 61 x 3/8 in.)
Gift of Jeanne and Michael Klein, 2016

In this work, Bahamian-born artist Tavares Strachan offers a seemingly concrete and affirmative declaration that, upon closer reflection, is abstract and fluid. As Strachan recently stated, “As humans, we all struggle with how we fit in and belong. . . . Who gets to determine who belongs where? And where is here? And why does it matter?” Any change to the location or context of this work changes who “you” might be and where “here” is, bringing new nuances to the phrase. The welcoming tone struck by this phrase insinuates that perhaps many of us haven’t always felt included. “I wanted to make a work that everyone can own—one that everyone can have. . . . Because as soon as you read it, you say, ‘I belong here,’ and you do belong.”

Colombia Coca-Cola

Antonio Caro
Bogotá, Colombia, 1950 –

Colombia Coca-Cola
Enamel on tin
69.8 cm x 100 cm (27 1/2 in. x 39 3/8 in.)
Susman Collection, 2014

"Colombia Coca-Cola," first painted in 1976 and later proliferated in different sizes and formats, presents the name of the artist’s country in the iconic Coca-Cola script. Caro’s recycling and subversion of ubiquitous logos like this one derives from his experience working for an advertising agency in the early 1970s. Here the superimposition of nation and logo points not only to a history of U.S. imperialism in the region, but also to how the line between “us” and “them”—consumers and producers—has become blurred.

This art object can not be displayed

Image credit:
Diego Rivera
La maestra rural [The Rural Teacher], 1932 (detail)
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1986