April 19 – June 1, 2012


The 1960s

April 19 – June 1, 2012
Curated by Allison Spencer & David Smith, Museum Studies Interns
Main Gallery

During the 1960s the Minimalist movement developed in response to the Abstract Expressionist practices happening in New York City. Artists began to create works that were neither painting or sculpture in the traditional sense. Looking back to Russian Constructivism, which emphasized modular fabrication and industrial materials, and also Marcel Duchamp’s prefabricated readymades, these artists employed processes of art production that emphasized formal qualities and eliminated extraneous detail. Minimalism has been viewed as a reaction against the Abstract Expressionist art movement, which was criticized as overly emotional and self-expressive. The Minimalists privileged work that was less spontaneous and more calculated. In seeking to present this vision for their work, they attempted to remove traces of the artist’s hand, and thus turned to industrial modes of production. The emphasis on the formal qualities of Minimalist work also sought to eliminate the ‘relational composition’ which had been dominant in European art. To accomplish this, Minimalist art often utilizes geometric forms in order to pair down the composition. Artists like Frank Stella began to paint canvases in patterns that were dictated by the shape of the canvas; in this way, the work was self-referencing. Other artists such as Ad Reinhardt were working with less obvious compositional elements. Reinhardt is perhaps most remembered for his ‘Black’ paintings from the 1960s, which at first glance appear to be simply monochromatic black paintings or prints, but are revealed, upon careful observation, to be executed with variations of black or nearly black tones. The work within this segment of the exhibition was chosen based on the emphasis the artists placed on formal qualities.
The 1960s is a two-part exhibition; the second part can be seen in the Helen Christou Gallery satellite space in LINC. The selection of works in satellite space is devoted to a different movement of art that began to take shape in the 1950s and was at its crest in the 1960s, known as Pop art.

– Allison Spencer & David Smith, Museum Studies Interns

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