Journal Entry 3
Art Since 1900
1960 – 1969
Sept 30. 2016
The decade opens with contract of shapes, forms and identity in search for a sole. The lingering effect of WW2 are past and a young crop of emergent artist spring forth with it’s own avant-grade such as “The New Realists” intent on “redefining the paradigms of collage, the readymade, and the monochrome. It closes with no less vigor as Conceptual art resulted from the blending of readymade and geometrics themselves variants of Fluxus and Pop art.
The period reveals a proliferation creative work no area is neglected and new social concerns come to the fore as in the work of Claes Oldenburg The Store, 1961 on environmental issues. Another example in diversity from contradiction in aesthetic a throw back to Italy 1909-15 but advanced by contemporaries like Michelangelo Pistoletto, Venere degli stacci, 1967 (Venus and Rags). The decade is full of numerous example thus we should limit further discussion to only two individuals.
In 1960, Clement Greenberg publishes Modernist Painting. Here he puts forth a set of terms allover, easel picture, homeless representation, color-space, and optical. This is a frontal attack on Abstract Expressionism with the work of Jackson Pollock and Barrett Newman in mind. In referencing The Crisis of the Easel Picture1948, he contrasts flatness, frontality and lack of incident. Rather than addressing the substance of the piece his opponents take issue with characterization of wordily use “criticism’ over “art writing” not verbal preciosity.
“It was Greenberg’s sense that in its jettison of art, the avant-grade had come to stand for a position he characterized, negatively, as merely “subversive and futuristic” pp477/478
Earlier in his career Greenberg had published Avant-Garde and Kitsch and Towards a Newer Laocoon. His views are well known; therefore, from these and other publication it is not surprising of him to try to project a development of art from a personnel conception. The “avant-garde had transformed itself in Greenberg’s eyes from upholder of cultural values to its enemy … which cheapened … modernist projects” p481 and aligned with commercial interest. Thus nearing the end of the 1960s there are missing scientific methodical-ness namely a separation between optical quality (color sphere) and aesthetic quality.
In name recognition among modernist/contemporary artists one name stand out more than any other in the American psychic , more than Marcel Duchap, Jason Pollock, Jasper Johns and Barrett Newman. It is Andy Warhol.
Warhol did individual and collaborative works of art, was a filmmaker, writer, underground music, fashion etc. Born in 1928 he moved to New York in 1949 and achieving early success. Becoming wealthy, enough he bought the works of Johns, Stella and Duchamp.
His first painting was comic strips but made full use of silkscreen. Notable work is Campbell soup can Disaster,also Elvis and Marilyn. Moving beyond the purely visual effect he reveals the consecutiveness of his understanding modernism with White Burning Car 111, 1963 take from a newspaper image producing a simulacrum of the real but to gruesome to show the actual during this period. Another of the period is Lavender Disaster, 1963 here he show gradation of 12 images of electric chair with diminishing light.
Most famously is his motto “I want to be a machine” which is taken to mean “the blankness of the artist and art like” p532. This play to his strength as his work reveals a repetition of subject and a lead into more of his quotes, “I like boring things” and “I like things to be exactly the same over and over again” Repetition in Warhol mind is not a representation, referent, or signifier. It is “traumatic reality … through a rupture in the image” p534.
One of his most controversial works appeared at the New York World Fair 1964, Thirteen Most Wanted Men,1964, which hung as a mural. The social/political motivation of the work was obvious and offensive to cultural norms of the period. Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Commissioner Morris and court architect Philip Johnson gave instructions to cover up the images. He responded in kind with gay mockery of his signature silver paint.
The decade closes but not before the old foundations once again are challenged. Foremost with exhibitions in Bern and London 1969 “When Attitude Become Form” and “Anti-illusion: Procedures/Material” New York focus on process art. Non specific medium and process over ride tradition into a more sublime abstraction of though and activity.