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Illuminating History by Lily Díaz, 25.IX.2000

a group. Artefacts developed and manipulated during the course of an activity carry with them the cultural and historical residues of such development.5

The relationships within the art practice are not direct but mediated through culturally and historically constituted concepts such as tools, media and methods. Or as Danto states: "There is no art without knowledge, without skill, without training."6

Conceptually and physically these intermediate terms carry with them histories of the relationship between the different components of the activity. Thus, the brush, the pigment, and the support surface are toolsthat mediate between the painter and the object of art. These instruments and methods, in turn, reflect the changing nature and idiosyncrasies of the art practice. For example, in 19th Century England, oil painting was considered to be the most difficult and complex medium for an artist to master. As we shall see in the Case Study presented in the next section, in a society that customarily excluded women from its mainstream professional activities, it was very difficult for women artists to obtain the training necessary to pursue a successful career working in the medium of oil. Accordingly, many of the works produced by women of this time were executed using other media, such as watercolour.7

Although we may be accustomed to think of art in terms of a physical interaction with materials and media, the object that results from the activity of art can also be the product of an intellectual engagement with discursive practices. This is the case with many of art objects produced throughout the 20th Century. Starting with Marcel Duchamp's "Readymades" in which the artist made use of already existing objects, the focus of art has been removed from the realm of form to that one of language, or what is being said. In doing so, Duchamp propitiated the birth of the conceptual movement in art. This in turn raised, once more, that timeless question of wherein lies the essence of art: Is it form, function or conception? All threee? Duchamp proposed that the essence

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acquisition of knowledge

by women.

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