Beyond, Instead, Possible: Robert Barry and the Birth of Conceptual Art


Robert Barry
Everything in the unconscious perceived by the senses but not noted by the conscious minds during trips to Baltimore, during the summer of 1967 (Psychic series), 1969

“Beyond, Instead, Possible: Robert Barry and the Birth of Conceptual Art” is the first of three appointments that will take place at the Foundation between June and August, to present Antonio Dalle Nogare’s collection. This trilogy will show, in a linear but not necessarily chronological way, how the works of the artists exhibited in the collection are born, looking at the same themes from different angles and reflecting the society of their time.


The Sixties are a historical phase characterised by a profound transformation of costume, fashion, lifestyle, interests and political participation. These are the years of the Vietnam War, the hippies, the birth of feminism, the conscientious objectors. Art naturally reacts to these changes, in part anticipating them, by subjecting its own languages and modes of operation to a radical transformation that produces a multiplicity of movements and groups, often supported by different or even opposing ideologies, such as Pop Art and Arte Povera. One of the most significant movements, which was born in these years but will have full development in the Seventies, is Conceptual Art.


Robert Barry is the conceptual artist who, more than others, was interested in the dynamics of invisible things, producing works made to unhinge the rules of visuality and demonstrating the existence of immaterial things: thoughts, words but also magnetic waves and inert gases.


“But does the work really exist?”
“It exists if you have an idea about it, and part of it is yours.”

– Robert Barry


On June 6, 2020 at 11 AM, a special guided tour at the Foundation will tell the story of the birth of conceptual art, and will present Robert Barry by analysing three of his works in the collection: a painting, an immaterial work from the Psychic Series, and a site-specific installation specially designed for the Foundation’s library. To ensure the safety of all visitors, participation to the guided tour is by reservation only, by writing an email to or by calling +39 0471 971 626.


Immediately after the guided tour the movie troublemakers – The story of Land Art will be shown, which will resume the themes treated during the tour. The film will run until 6.00 pm. For those who are unable to visit the Foundation, the film will be available online on our website.


Even for the little ones, we offer a themed workshop – you can download it here or find it at the Foundation during your visit. Share your artwork with us by tagging us on Instagram.


To discover more about the themes of the special guided tour, you can find here below further content and documents, as well as an essential bibliography.

Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing
By Craig Dworking and Kenneth Goldsmith

Sometimes art is paintings, and sometimes it’s a chair. Why? Let’s learn about Conceptual Art, where the idea is more important than the form.

“Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”, article by Sol Lewitt published on Artforum in 1967.

“Sentences on Conceptual Art”, ”, article by Sol Lewitt published on the magazine “0-9” in 1969.

Robert Barry, Now and Then (2002)

The 13-channel film installation Manifesto (2015) by Julien Rosefeldt pays homage to the tradition and literary beauty of artist manifestos, ultimately questioning the role of the artist in society today. In Manifesto Part 12, Cate Blanchett presents Sol Lewitt’s statements on conceptual art by impersonating a news anchorwoman.

Using extensive interviews and documentation of artwork installed around the world, in the documentary Sol LeWitt director Chris Teerink explores the artist’s work and philosophy.

Ursula Meyer, “Conversation with Robert Barry, 12 October 1969”, in “Meyer: Conceptual Art”

Part of the 1969 interview to Robert Barry, taken from “Recording Conceptual Art: Early Interviews with Barry, Huebler, Kaltenbach, LeWitt, Morris, Oppenheim, Siegelaub, Smithson, and Weiner by Patricia Norvell”, by Alexander Alberro and Patricia Norvell.

Massimo Minini interviews Robert Barry during his visit to the Fondazione Antonio Dalle Nogare, at that time still under construction

Letizia Ragaglia interviews Robert Barry during his visit to the Fondazione Antonio Dalle Nogare, at that time still under construction



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