HomeThe work of Douglas Huebler

HomeThe work of Douglas Huebler

The work of Douglas Huebler

L’art de Douglas Huebler

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Published on Thursday, March 06, 2014


A two-day conference dedicated to the work of conceptual American artist Douglas Huebler (1924-1997), organized by Centre de Recherche en Théorie des Arts (University Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) and Département Arts Plastiques (University Rennes 2, France), and to take place on October 24th and October 31th, 2014 at Louvain-la-Neuve and Rennes.



“Human systems” as cultural ready-mades - The work of Douglas Huebler

“I began to use ‘human systems’ as kind of cultural ready-mades: behaviour, fantasies, attitudinal clichés." Douglas Huebler (1980)

Douglas Huebler (1924-1997) is one of the key figures of American Conceptual art. Along with Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner, he exemplifies the movement in its most radical historical implications — to replace not only the object of visual experience with a linguistic proposition, but also in its most rigorous or even severe form, that of protocol.

Yet Huebler’s work remains quite singular and, in many respects, at odds with or irreducible to the dominant tenets usually associated with Conceptual art. While Conceptual art stems, for instance, from a general movement of reflexivity vis-à-vis the conditions and nature of the art object, and thus tends to perpetuate or strengthen the idea of an art practice bound only to itself (for instance: questioning the artistic value from the standpoint of the artist’s intent; deconstructing the creative process in a series of logical procedures or acts; or revealing the underlying ideological rules that govern the artistic institution), Douglas Huebler, from the beginning, opened his work to the surrounding contemporary world due to a keen interest in the specific temporal and spatial conditions of the artwork, as his famous Location Pieces and Duration Pieces testify to this. In doing so, Huebler conferred a particular historical, social, or even political dimension to his practice that may have been lacking in the early work of some of his fellow conceptual artists.

Furthermore, by playing with or deliberately frustrating the strict rules or logical tasks that he created for his pieces, Huebler often induced chance, disorder, and the unexpected within the artwork, challenging the rationality or truth value conveyed by the idea of protocol. In other words, he prompted the eruption of what can be called fiction, or history again in the narrative sense of the word.

In the end, by playfully confronting images with words, to the point of challenging their presumed equivalence, Huebler’s work disrupts the viewer’s faith in his or her perceptual senses and in the authority of language over meaning. Thus Huebler urges the viewer’s active participation by appealing to his or her imagination or other mental processes thanks to which the viewer gives coherence and meaning to what he or she experiences (identification, association, etc.).

This two-day conference aims first to study the singularity of Huebler’s artwork within or beyond the context of Conceptual art. Second, reassessing the 1960s and 1970s from the standpoint of Huebler’s work allows one to address major artistic issues rarely tackled in scholarship concerning Conceptual art, such as the work’s relation to History or fiction, issues of identity and identification, or the dynamic between systematic control and chance, absurdity, humor, or the mysterious. Such concepts and issues in Huebler’s work encourages one to form new insights concerning the historical, cultural, and social implications of art practices from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Finally, in view of Huebler’s profound and longstanding involvement with teaching, and following one of his former students, Mike Kelley, who wondered whether “we shall kill daddy,” this conference also invites papers addressing Huebler’s legacy and influence on younger generations of artists.

Possible topics include (but are not restricted to):

  • How does Huebler’s work fit within the American conceptual art scene since the mid-1960s, given for instance the fact that he belonged to an older generation than other conceptual artists such as Kosuth, Weiner, etc., or that he did not live in New York City but rather upstate?
  • Is the usual Conceptual position according to which artistic materials such as diagrams, drawings, photographs, maps, etc. are to be considered as mere documents relevant in the case of Huebler’s work?
  • How was Huebler’s work critically shaped by different artistic, theoretical, philosophical, or scientific influences (Magritte, Robbe-Grillet, Lévi-Strauss or Barthes among others)?
  • How do his works address the viewer, both from a physical and psychological point of view?
  • What are the possible historical, social, sociological, political implications of his work?
  • How can we better understand Huebler’s work from the standpoint of fiction and/or humor?
  • How has Huebler’s practice informed post-conceptual art?

Organizing committee

  • Anaël Lejeune (FRS-FNRS – Université de Louvain)
  • Pr. Alexander Streitberger (Université de Louvain)
  • Pr. Christophe Viart (Université Rennes 2)

Submission guidelines

This two-day conference is to take place on Friday October 24th, 2014 at University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), and on Friday October 31th, 2014 at University Rennes 2 (France).

Proposals for papers in French or English should be send to anael.lejeune@uclouvain.be  and alex.streitberger@uclouvain.be  . Proposals are limited to 500 words. The deadline for submissions is March 31st, 2014.

Papers should not exceed 30 minutes.

Selected participants will be notified by April 23rd, 2014 at the latest. 


  • Département d'Archéologie et d'Histoire de l'art - Université de Louvain-la-Neuve - Place Blaise Pascal, 1 B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve - Belgique
    Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium (1348)
  • Campus Villejean
    Rennes, France (35)


  • Monday, March 31, 2014


  • art conceptuel, douglas Huebler, art américain


  • Anaël Lejeune
    courriel : anael [dot] lejeune [at] uclouvain [dot] be

Information source

  • Anaël Lejeune
    courriel : anael [dot] lejeune [at] uclouvain [dot] be


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The work of Douglas Huebler », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, March 06, 2014, https://calenda.org/279409

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