Lecture, 1960 65


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  • {"1":"Today’s lecture deals with the very nature of art and art appreciation. We’re just coming off the heels of modernist painting, and entering a new world following WWII and 50s prosperity (the cold war in full swing (red scare), Americans were spreading out to the suburbs, fathers were commuting to work in nice cars, mothers were cleaning house in their pearls). In the 60s, national consciousness shifted, the youth rebelled against these idyllic visions of family life. Race riots began (in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963), wars got started (Vietnam in 1964), leaders were assassinated (JFK in 1963, MLK in 1968), female contraception (“the pill”) became available (to married women) in 1965, and people began questioning the foundations of this thriving consumer culture. Also, the space race accelerated, begun by the Russians in 1957 and 1961 and continued by the U.S. in 1962 with the first American manned space flight. Neil Armstrong will walk on the moon in 1969. Art will begin to reflect these radical changes. In many ways, art of the 1960s then questions these assumptions about traditional “fine art”—what do we go see art for? To be elevated, enrapt? To contemplate existence? To receive pleasure? To escape the trivialties of everyday life in favor of timeless truths? Or to indulge in these trivialties?\n","2":"Clement Greenberg thought so. In his earlier essay, Avant-Garde and Kitsch (1939), Greenberg endows the avant-garde with the responsibility of preserving genuine culture, and protecting it from the fake culture produced by modern consumer societies, what he called “kitsch”. In a later essay, Modernist Painting, published in 1960, he outlined the natural evolution of modernist, or avant-garde, art and described its main characteristics (self-criticality, pure optical experience, and above all, flatness). \n","8":"In 1949, Life magazine asked about Pollock, “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” and in 1964 about Lichtenstein, “Is he the worst artist in the U.S.?” Perhaps Pop is largely seen as such because it emerged in the wake of modernist painting, which was often perceived as genuine, expressive, authentic, and sincere. Today, I’d like to examine those assumptions. Is “pop art” really all those things? Is modernist painting really all those things? Are they really opposites as Greenberg would have us believe? And what does it tell us about ourselves, if anything at all?\n","25":"No one typifies this postwar phenomenon of the culture of spectacle and the breakdown of American social order in the form of accident and disaster than Andy Warhol. He had his hands in everything, from music production to fashion design to filmmaking, magazine publishing (Interview magazine), to artist collectives (The Factory). The spectacle in his work was celebrity-obsessed America, an obsession which frequently took a disastrous tone so that celebrity became synonymous with death and destruction. But what Warhol showed us was not the pathos of this, but our immunity to it, our complete lack of feeling in the face of it and our voyeuristic delight in watching it happen (“if it bleeds, it leads”). He projected that in his public persona. Pop art of course relies on images from popular culture for its subject and style and Warhol more than anyone mirrored American pop culture in the 60s not only because of the subject matter he worked with, but also because he himself was a celebrity who catered to celebrities, and professed an uncritical loyalty to the beauty of popular culture, even if his works suggest differently.\n","4":"Vision (and the frame) is “the only condition painting shared with no other art.” (Greenberg) This evolution began with Manet, continued with the Impressionists, Cezanne, the Cubists, Mondrian, Pollock, and so on. So, following this evolution, what should modernist art look like today?\n","10":"BenDay dots are named after the 19th century inventor who invented this technique for producing shade in a printed image—a system of dots used to create gradations of shading; likened to pointillism, invented same time. This procedure gives the effect of mechanical reproduction, the antithesis of Abstract Expressionist painting, which is perceived as organic.\n"}
  • Lecture, 1960 65

    1. 1. History of 20th Century Art 1960-64
    2. 2. The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence… Realistic, naturalistic art had dissembled the medium, using art to conceal art; Modernism used art to call attention to art… It was the stressing of the ineluctable flatness of the surface that remained, however, more fundamental than anything else to the processes by which pictorial art criticized and defined itself under Modernism. For flatness alone was unique and exclusive to pictorial art. -Clement Greenberg, Modernist Painting, 1960 Mondrian
    3. 3. Greenberg & Jackson Pollock Installation view of Pollock’s Number 13A, 1948: Arabesque, 1948
    4. 4. Greenberg’s Evolution of Modernist Painting Manet Monet Cezanne Picasso
    5. 5. Kenneth Noland, Whirl, 1960
    6. 6. Morris Louis, Saraband, 1959
    7. 7. 1960 • • • • • How does Louis’s Saraband reflect Greenberg’s characteristics of modernist painting? Almost purely optical (resists tactility of Pollock’s work) Shimmering, translucent veil created by dripping down side of canvas Removes artist’s hand Is Greenberg protecting high modernist art from the emerging Pop Art movement (aka kitsch)? Is Pop Art anti-modernist? Is it a joke on modernism? Roy Lichtenstein, Brushtroke with Splatter, 1966 Morris Louis, Saraband, 1959
    8. 8. What makes an artist “great”? What makes him (or her) awful? LIFE magazine 1949 (Pollock) 1964 (Lichtenstein) Terms used to describe (and ridicule) Pop Art: • deadpan • Neo-Dadaist • plagiaristic • kitsch • unoriginal • ironic • banal • cool
    9. 9. Roy Lichtenstein, Popeye, 1961, oil
    10. 10. 1960 – Pop in America • • • • From 1961-65, Lichtenstein made series of paintings based on comic books Known for these works though also devoted much of career to updating old masterworks (Monet, Cezanne) Interested in simplicity, unification, clarity of vision, questions of form Criticized both for content and process Roy Lichtenstein, Popeye, 1961, oil Process Content • appropriated popular image • brought “low” art form (comic) into “high” art context • appropriated image • seemed to directly copy (but didn’t) • sketched panels, projected and traced sketches • Thick contour lines, primary colors Benday dots Elzie Crisler Segar, Popeye the Sailor, ca.1930, comic strip
    11. 11. So, is Pop Art Anti-Modernist? • • • Lichtenstein interested in new “possibilities for painting” Experimenting with modernist form using an unconventional process “Lichtensteinized” modernist issues (brushstroke, flatness, the grid, the readymade) Edouard Manet, Dejeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), 1863 Lichtenstein, Rouen Cathedral, 1969 Marcantonio Raimondi, Judgment of Paris, 1520 Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, 1894 I don’t draw a picture in order to reproduce it—I do it in order to recompose it. Nor am I trying to change it as much as possible. I try to make the minimum amount of change. - Lichtenstein
    12. 12. Lichtenstein & Mondrian – Pop vs. Modernism Lichtenstein, Golf Ball, 1962 Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 10, Pier and Ocean, 1915
    13. 13. James Rosenquist, President Elect, 1960/61-64, 12’
    14. 14. 1960 – Pop in America • • • • Images from magazines, manipulated and collaged them in painted form From 1957-60, earned living as a billboard painter (sign painting techniques applied to large scale paintings) Appropriation of popular imagery (’49 Chevrolet, JFK campaign poster) with commercial design Kennedy assassinated in 1963 James Rosenquist, President Elect, 1960/61-64, 12’ The face was from Kennedy's campaign poster. I was very interested at that time in people who advertised themselves. What did they put on an advertisement of themselves? So that was his face. And his promise was half a Chevrolet and a piece of stale cake. -Rosenquist Rosenquist, F-111, 1965
    15. 15. 1960 – Pop in America • • • • • • Ruscha moved to L.A. from Oklahoma to study at Chinouard (now Cal Arts) First worked in advertising Involved in Ferus Gallery and included in groundbreaking Pop exhibition New Painting of Ed Ruscha, Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights, 1962 Common Objects at Pasadena Art Museum (both organized by Walter Hopps) in 1962 Applied Johns’s interest in signs & Duchamp’s interest in wordplay to a study of popular signage, language and typography Signs as abstract forms Isolates language to heighten The Cool School (clip) ambiguity & mystery http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbQjmKA1V7o Ruscha, Rain, 1970, gunpowder and pastel on paper
    16. 16. 1961 – The Blurring of Art & Life Allan Kaprow, Yard, 1961
    17. 17. 1961 – The Blurring of Art & Life • • • • • Oldenburg opens The Store in New York’s East Village (sells painted handmade plaster sculptures ranging from $25 - $800) Interested in art as ordinary commodity Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Theater performs Happenings there Kaprow installs Yard in NYC courtyard (fills with tires) Both artists interested in ephemeral & collaborative art events (Happenings), and in reusing discarded urban detritus (like Dubuffet) These things [art objects] are displayed in galleries, but it is not the place for them. A store would be better. Museum in bourgeois concept equals store in mine. - Oldenburg Allan Kaprow, Yard, 1961 Claes Oldenburg, The Store, 1961
    18. 18. The Legacy of Jackson Pollock Pollock…left us at a point where we must become preoccupied with and even dazzled by the space and objects of our everyday life…Objects of every sort are materials for the new art: paint, chairs, food, electric and neon lights, smoke, water and old socks, a dog… Young artists of today need no longer say “I am a painter” or “a poet” or “a dancer.” The are simply “artists.” All of life will be open to them. They will discover out of ordinary things the meaning of ordinariness. Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock painting, 1950
    19. 19. Allen Kaprow, “Un-artist” • • • • • • • • • Interested in blurring boundaries between art & everyday life To challenge all artistic conventions Known for his Happenings Loosely scripted events, no logical narrative or point Characterized by ephemeral (cannot be reproduced), whimsical, seemingly spontaneous nature Integrated multiple media, allowed for chance occurrences & audience Hugo Ball participation Karawane Context/environment very important 1916 Dada Resists becoming a commodity performance Household included men building towers, women nests; smoke-flares throw; jam licked off a car and set ablaze (no audience present) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXdPAnNQIcg Happenings are events that...happen...they appear to go nowhere and do not make any particular literary point. -Kaprow Household Revisited 2008 Kaprow, Household, 1964
    20. 20. Everything is Art… Fluxus credo George Maciunas, Name Cards of Fluxus Artists, 1966 … and everyone can do it. -
    21. 21. 1962 – More Blurring of Art & Life: Fluxus Emerges • • • • • • • George Maciunas, leader of Fluxus, organizes series of exhibitions in Wiesbade, West Germany Of all 60s movements, Fluxus was the most open, international, experimental “non-movement” It resisted prevailing styles, pop and minimalism Considered every action a form of art, from washing one’s hair to making a salad (Alison Knowles) A DIY aesthetic, it valued simplicity over complexity It organized concerts, festivals, performances, publications, mail art, artist books, actions It insisted on viewer participation Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963
    22. 22. 1962 - “Everything is in flux…everything flows” (Heraclitus) • • • • Maciunas associated fluxus with human physiology, molecular transformation, and chemical transformation Neo-dadaist? East Meets West Feminist Valie Export, Tapp and Tastkino (Pet and Paw), 1968 (Viennese Actionism) Shigeko Kubota Vagina Painting 1965 Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, Kyoto, Japan, 1964 http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3dsvy_yoko-ono-cut-piece_shortfilms
    23. 23. Fluxfests • • • • Multi-player games with Flux-Sports component Included activities like the "Slow Speed Cycle Contest" or the "Handicap Run," whose participants ran "while drinking vodka, eating porridge, eating ice cream, spitting… etc..” Reflected Maciunas’ belief that Fluxus events "must be simple, amusing, [and] concerned with insignificances” An exhibition in a hat (walked around Paris from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.) became portable gallery Robert Fillou, Galerie Legitime, 1962 Art is what makes life more interesting than art. -Robert Filliou
    24. 24. Fluxus Performances Alison Knowles, Newspaper Music, 1967 (rendition) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FgAT4pH21w Nam June Paik, Unprotected Music: Solo for Violin (rendition), 1962 Nam June Paik, Zen for Head, 1962 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J41s_VnKrcM
    25. 25. 1964 – Warhol I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say ‘figment.’ - Warhol Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (in Drag), 1981 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M--oHOn4a0U
    26. 26. 1964 – Warhol • • • • • • From Pittsburgh, PA, born in 1928 Studied at Carnegie Institute, then moved to NYC Became successful commercial illustrator (Vogue, New Yorker) In 1960, decided to become an artist and made first paintings of Batman, Popeye, Dick Tracy 1962-63 was watershed year—first Campbell’s Soup cans, first “Disaster” and Marilyn paintings, and first films, “Sleep” and “Kiss Began The Factory in 1963 (until 1967)—transformed painting into a mass produced activity Warhol, Shoe, illustration ca.1956 Andy Warhol, Sleep, 1963 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkQMJBlO0v8
    27. 27. The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel. —Andy Warhol, 1975 Warhol, White Burning Car III, 1963, silkscreen
    28. 28. 1964 – Warhol • • • • • • • • • From “Death in America” series Photos taken from news sources (often not printed) Depict car accidents, electric chairs, civil rights demonstrations Many reflect controversial current events/issues Reflects early TV age where images of death and disaster (war, plane crash, etc) brought into home Repetition suggests obsessive fixation on trauma (to master fear or wallow in it?) Simulacral (copy without an original Barthes) or referential (form of social critique? (Crow) Both? Mass subject (“anonymous victims of history”, pyramid builders, war victims) The punctum (Roland Barthes) If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it. Warhol, White Burning Car III, 1963, silkscreen
    29. 29. Warhol: Simulacral or Referential? Warhol, Lavender Disaster, 1963, silkscreen Bruce Conner, Child, 1959