The problem with conceptual art, he (Smithson) said, was that it made ideas into fetishes by isolating them from their material surroundings and thereby capitulating to and extending the traditional ideological function of art for the bourgeoisie: it further denied or obscured the role of the art object in the marketplace and hence further divorced art from life. The central premise of conceptual art, he argued in an unpublished text from 1972, was not art-for-art’s- sake but even worse: “production for production’s sake.” Where art-for-art’s-sake had still relied on a notion of “quality” (albeit a very mystified and abstract one) to justify itself in social terms, production-for-production’s-sake could dispense with the interests of the audience altogether and justify itself simply on the basis of the work it performed, on the basis of its own abstract productivity, “like a B. F. Skinner rat doing his ‘tough’ little tricks,” as Smithson quipped in another.
—Blake Stimson in: Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth, and Practice. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, ed. Michael Corris (via no-leaving-new-york)