“a long habit of not thinking a thingwrong, gives it a superﬁcial appearance ofbeing right, and raises at ﬁrst formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides.Time makes more converts than reason.” Thomas Paine Common Sense First published 1776
End of Modernism• Movements in art from the mid to late 60’s onwards substantially changed what art could look like, how it could be made, what it could be made from, how you looked at it, ‘read’ it and ‘interacted with it. 2
Values of Modernity• Emancipation from mysticism and superstition• The power of the rational, the scientiﬁc• Knowledge based on objectivity - a solid sense of truth• ‘Mans’ ability to engineer for himself a better tomorrow - faith in planning - future utopias• Belief in the inevitable linear progress of humanity
Crisis of Modernity - 1960’s - the beginning of Postmodernism• A generational sense of skepticism regarding the potential for human social emancipation and material improvement through scientiﬁc progress• A generational disillusionment with the values, authority, morality, culture and power of those in ‘charge’.• Political, personal and cultural dissent. A call for a subversion of the old order• Criticisms from the margins - the return of the repressed, the excluded.• A fracturing and fragmentation of society - a new plurality
Hope Extinguished - a Growing Militancy Text Assassination of Martin Luther King
Communiqué 9WE are getting closer.We are slowly destroying the long tentacles of the oppressive Statemachine...secret files in the universitieswork study in the factoriesthe census at homesocial security filescomputersTVGiro passportswork permitsinsurance cards.Bureaucracy and technology used against the people...to speed up our workto slow down our minds and actionsto obliterate the truth.Police computers cannot tell the truth. They just record our `crimes. Thepigmurders go unrecorded. Stephen McCarthy Peter Savva, David Owale --The murderof these brothers is not written on any secret card.We will avenge our brothers.If they murder another brother or sister, pig blood will flow in the streets.168 explosions last year. Hundreds of threatening telephone calls to govt,bosses, leaders.The AB is the man or woman sitting next to you. They have guns in theirpocketsand anger in their minds.We are getting closer.Off the system and its property.Power to the people.
• 1968 “A year that marked every generation on every continent. ..it was a year of hope, when those who accepted the world as it is were the ones who felt disinherited, while the wretched of the earth, the dispossessed, began to discover their inheritance” Tariq Ali Marching on the Streets
Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni (1970) 13
The Dematerialisation of the Art Object From this to that... 14
Typical features of Modernist Art• Medium speciﬁc - the established time honoured disciplines of painting and sculpture• The production of autonomous art objects• Purely optical / visual - form over content• “The ideal modernist spectator was a disembodied eye, lifted out of the ﬂux of life in time and history, apprehending the resolved (‘signiﬁcant) aesthetic form in a moment of instantaneity” Paul Wood
The reaction against..........• The domination of American abstract expressionism• For a younger generation this works formalism was read as being academic and by virtue of its ‘muteness’ complicit with political power. Impotent and institutionalised. Foyer decoration for corporations.• Lucy L Lippard described post painterly abstraction as visual muzak
Visual Muzak? Jules Olitski “Instant Loveland” 1968Anthony Caro “Early One Morning” “Silence is assent” Carl Andre
“Changes in art are generally insignificant unless they involve some form of cognitive change, and unless they presuppose some modification of thoseprocesses of triangulation by means of which a spectator, a work of art, and a world of practices and referents are located relative to each other.” Charles Harrison “Conceptual Art and the Suppression of the Beholder”
Birth of Minimalism - Anti Form / Anti Aesthetic“My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object”“What you see is what you see” Frank StellaFrank Stella. The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II. 1959Frank Stella. (American, born 1936). The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II. 1959. Enamel oncanvas, 7 6 3/4" x 11 3/4" (230.5 x 337.2 cm).
“Looking isn’t as simple as it looks” Ad ReinhardtJasper Johns
The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature. Ad Reindhardt
Key Minimalist artistsDan Flavin (1933-1996)Donald Judd(1928-1994) Sol LeWitt (b.1928) Robert Morris (.1931) Carl Andre (b.1935)
1. Minimalism as anextension of typicalmodernist tropes in art (thereduction of form to itspurest essence) andsimultaneously a reactionagainst them. Dan Flavin Monument for V.Tatlin, 1967
2. An embrace of manufacturingtechniques (serialisation, industrymaterials and fabrication techniques)that reﬂected something about therealities of post war Americanindustry culture. As the artist RobertMorris stated “clear decision ratherthan groping craft”. Implicit in thisadoption of standardised industrymaterial and procedures is rejectionof a European tradition of artisanalproduction, which was regarded asbeing antithetical to the ideals ofdemocracy and anti elitism of Robert MorrisAmerican culture. Installation at the Green Gallery, 1964
3. The adoption of antiexpressionist forms of makingart - artworks that display nosigns of touch or the hand. Sol LeWitt Modular Floor Structure 1966 Sol LeWitt Five Modular Structures 1972
The Spectator in Minimalism• A decisive shift in the role of the spectator. In typically Greenbergian modernism the viewer was taken out of time and space and history - a disembodied eye who sought transcendence through the visual. In minimalism the viewers experience of the artwork was concretely tied to the experience of the space as a physical being. A physical self-conscious about looking at the physical objects of minimalism was key. It was a Robert Morris profoundly different kind of artistic Untitled 1965 consumption.
Criticisms of Minimalism1. Minimalism replicated the cold,impersonal, alienating properties ofcapitalist culture.2. An alienating masculine aestheticwhich despite the claims of the artistswas perfectly suited to be co-opted by anart market / corporate art market forfurnishing their ofﬁces and spaces with anartistic stamp of approval.“The face of capital, the face of authority,the face of the father” (Anna Chave)3. The critic Michael Fried regardedminimalism as the ʼopposite of artʼ. ForFried Minimalismʼs concentration onmaking the viewer aware of time andplace was ʻanti-modernʼ and inherentlytheatrical.
Conceptual Art“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most importantaspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form inart, it means that all of the planning and decisions are madebeforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair”Sol LeWitt ‘Paragraphs’ 1967
Ideas alone can be works of art; they are in a chain ofdevelopment that may eventually find some form. Allideas need not be made physical.Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, theartist may use any form, from an expression of words(written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.Sol Le Witts‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”
• Drawing attention to the function of ideas and language within the production and interpretation of art• Anti optical - a suspicion about the power of images and the visual 34
Greenbergian modernismhad placed too muchemphasis on feelingsgenerated by art, as well asa concentration on the howas opposed to the what - ithad down played thecognitive aspect of art -especially the role oflanguage in creatingmeaning and value aroundart.
Inﬂuences“it’s art because i say it’s art” The power to ‘name’
The dematerialisation of the art object. Resistance to the art market /to corporate buying power. Critique of the institutions of art(museums, critics, dealers)
“Who has the authority to say whether aparticular conﬁguration of shapes and coloursconstitutes a ‘formal harmony’, an ‘aesthetictotality’ - or whether it fails to do so? In practicethis came down to the word of one artist, ormore pointedly, the art critic. A systemdependent on critical authority is also clearly asystem ripe for lampoon. Hence the early avantgardist joke of tricking a critic into waxinglyrical over an ‘abstract painting’ made by abrush tied to a donkey’s tail”Paul WoodConceptual Artpg. 11
New mediums - the embrace of nonconventional forms for artisticcommunication - text, photography,video, performance- the search formore democratic forms and sites forcommunication
Investigation of the statusof the art object -theontology of art. A selfconsciously reﬂectiveapproach to the idea of‘making art. Explorationof non-traditional formsfor ‘expression’. The ideathat the old forms had Joseph Kosuth remarked that theexhausted themselves ‘purest’ deﬁnition of conceptual art would be that it is an inquiry into the foundations(painting and sculpture). of the concept ‘art’.
• A self consciously reﬂective approach to the idea of ‘making art’.• What might an art object look like? What materials were viable as art. Exploration of non- traditional forms for John Hilliard Camera Recording its Own ‘expression’. Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors) 1971• A rejection of the idea that ‘authentic’ art production was rooted in the acquisition and learning of traditional skills Keith Arnatt “Trouser Word Piece” 1972
“Art doesn’t require being able todraw, or being able to paint well orknow colours, it doesn’t requireany of those specific things thatare in the discipline, to beinteresting”Bruce Nauman
A re-imagining of therole of the spectator - ashift from a passiveconsumer of aestheticobjects- to an active‘reader’ and interpreter. John Baldessari
Idea art becomes Ad men art• Text art traded in the market• Idea art becomes ikea art -”you got to have a good idea” - the tyranny of the good idea• Fetish made of ‘being seen to be sharp and smart’ - chi chi conceptualism• Art works become triggers or signposts to other more ‘interesting’ ’respectable’’ serious’ areas of culture or philosophy or science.
“There is a danger in this rivalry of thinking that artwhich is not visually interesting must ipso facto be clever, or alternatively of discarding visually interesting art as being ipso facto not clever.” Dave Beech Artmonthly