Journal Entry 2
Art Since 1900
1950 – 1959
Sept 15. 2016
The decade of the 1950 transitioned by the still lingering, effects of World War 2 in Europe at its onset saw the move from Paris elites with a neo-Avant-garde clearly defined by American modernism when it closed. Through out this tumultuous decade of artist rivalry it is clear Jackson Pollock is the standard of reference and greatest contemporary influence.
Barnett Newman in retrospect steals the 1951 as artist of the year with his lack luster second show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Jackson Pollock encouraged him to do another show though his first was viewed as a failure because of negative press and uncanny absent of other artist at its opening. The second was no more successful. It is not until 1958 and again 1959 before solo shows change his fortune and he find respect for his work of atmospheric space incorporating signification thus dubbing him a father figure of minimalist artist by Thomas B. Hess.
As the decade developed, three works by Robert Rauschenberg 1953 once again shape modernism. His four foot square white canvas, Erased de KooningDrawingand Automobile Tire Print. These are seen as a redux ofDadain character and emblematic of the earlier Marcel Duchamp but even more important reveal hostility toward Abstract Expressionism. The works use of indexical marking reveal his ability to use non-compositional subject. He is not alone in this period for Ellsworth Kelly use of found object with several progressive iterations Window 1949 abstract painting discards the referent but clear use of indexical transfer is evidenced.
Although the US modernist movement has taken hold mid-decade it is not at the exclusion of international appeal. There is no personnel contact with Jackson Pollock but evidence shows he followed theGutaiexhibition in Japan and attributed to some level of influence. Kazuo Shirage, Work II1958 is such an example with his foot painting. There are also variants of live art, interest in new materials, geometrics, concrete and audiovisual to name a few with Gutaieventually showing in New York at the Martha Jackson Galley 1958. The time also sees the short live Neoconcretismoin Brazil and still active Parisian community with Le mouvementshow at Galerie Denise Rene with the launch of Kineticism.
Additionally, London breaks free of the effect of WW2 with it’s this is Tomorrow exhibition 1956 spearheaded by the Independent Group. It a mix of artistic writers and commercial design interest prelude to British Pop Culture. One of the examples of this period is Richard Hamilton‘s Just what is it that makes today homes so differently, so appealing? 1956. It is not without controversy that influences from Paris and New York encompassing modern design and pop culture it runs head on against the British art establishment lead by curator Kenneth Clark.
On mainland Europe the SituatioistInternational group lead by Guy Debordemerges from a sorted background. It is an odd marriage. Evidence shows that they sought to advance subversive situations in both visual and literary works. Deborda prolific writer produces The Society of the Spectacle in which he attempts to expose the fallacy of modern living and how capitalism is subverting culture. The group fractures and is dissolved by 1972.
As the decade comes to a close Jasper Johns is thrust to the forefront with his Target with Four Faces1955 appearing on the January 20, 1958 cover of Art News. While earlier critic affixes neo-Dadato his work his investigation was more inquiring of Marcel Duchamp whom he eventually met later that year. John’s Flag1954-5 and the former plus other work show at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York the same year. An analytical critique purports intentional use of signification, contradiction, irony and allegory. In joining his ranks others like Frank Stella use black enamel on canvas aluminum and copper while producing his would minimalist works.
The period is noted for its shift from Europe to North America becoming epicenter of Modernist movement. There has been a wholesale assault on Abstract Expressionism but not without serious critique of idealist influence. A proliferate number of creative disciplines have embraced avant-garde from black sculpture toMerdad’ artistato wax and installations such as Ed KienholzPortable War Memorialonce dub junk art. The decade ends never very far from social/political controversy as “New Images of Man” show The Museum of Modern Art in New York explores existential aesthetic resultant cold war cultural.