The artist Lee Lozano (1930–1999) began her career as a painter; her work rapidly evolved from figuration to abstraction. In the late 1960s, she created a major series of eleven monochromatic Wave paintings, her last in the medium.
Throughout his career, Philip Guston’s work metamorphosed from figural to abstract and back to figural. In the 1950s, Guston (1913–1980) produced a body of shimmering abstract paintings that made him—along with Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kline—an influential abstract expressionist of the “gestural" tendency. In the late 1960s, with works like The Studio came his most radical shift.
Rodney Graham’s Phonokinetoscope (2001) is a five-minute 16mm film loop in which the artist is seen riding his Fischer Original bicycle through Berlin’s Tiergarten while taking LSD, to the soundtrack of a fifteen-minute song (written and performed by Graham) recorded on a vinyl LP. The turntable drives the projection of the film; the film starts when the needle is placed on the record and stops when the needle is taken off.
Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) occupies a central position in the Latin American avant-garde of the postwar era. Associated with the Rio de Janeiro-based neo-concretist movement at the beginning of his career, Oiticica moved from object production to the creation of chromatically opulent and sensually engulfing large-scale installations or wearable garments.
In Sanja Iveković’s Triangle (Trokut, 1979), four black-and-white photographs and written text capture an eighteen-minute performance from May 10, 1979. On that date, a motorcade carrying Josip Broz Tito, then president of Yugoslavia, drove through the streets of downtown Zagreb. As the President’s limousine passed beneath her apartment, Ivokevic began simulating masturbation on her balcony. Although she could not be seen from the street, she knew that the surveillance teams on the roofs of neighboring buildings would detect her presence.
Michael Asher (born in 1943), one of the foremost installation artists of the Conceptual art period, is a founder of site-specific practice. Considered a progenitor of institutional critique, he spearheaded the creation of artworks imbued with a self-conscious awareness of their dependence on the conditions of their exhibition context.
Almost a half-century after Yayoi Kusama debuted her landmark installation Infinity Mirror Room--Phalli’s Field (1965) in New York, the work remains challenging and unclassifiable. Shifting between the Pop-like and the Surreal, the Minimal and the metaphorical, the figurative and the abstract, the psychotic and the erotic, with references to “free love” and psychedelia, it seemed to embody all that the 1960s was about, while at the same time denying the prevailing aesthetics of its time.
In Jeff Koons’s One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985), a Spalding basketball floats in the center of a glass tank that stands on a four-legged black metal structure. It has been called one of the defining works of the 1980s--but also described (by such critics as Craig Owens, Rosalind Krauss, and Hal Foster) as "an endgame," "misleading," and "repulsive." The work presents what the artist called "the ultimate state of being"--neither death nor life but the absence of change.
One of the defining paintings of British Pop art, Richard Hamilton’s Swingeing London 67 (f) depicts two men--Mick Jagger and Hamilton’s art dealer Robert Fraser--handcuffed together in the back of a police van. The image is taken from a newspaper photograph that shows the two being driven from Lewes prison to Chichester Magistrates Court following their June 1967 arrest for possession of drugs.
Jeff Wall's Picture for Women (1979) marks the transition of photography as an art form from the printed page to the gallery wall. Before this, photographs—from the orthodox photographic work of Walker Evans to the Conceptual photography of Dan Graham—seemed intended for the page even when hung in a gallery. In Picture for Women, a woman looks outward, as if at the viewer; a camera occupies the center of the photograph; the photographer stands on the right.
Gordon Matta-Clark's Conical Intersect (1975) was a torqued, spiraling "cut" into two derelict seventeenth-century Paris buildings adjacent to the construction site of the controversial Centre Pompidou. With this landmark work of "anarchtecture," Matta-Clark not only opened up these venerable residences to light and air, he also began a dialogue about the nature of urban development and the public role of art.
In the mid-1980s, the Canadian art group General Idea (AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal) created a symbol using the acronym AIDS, arranging the letters in a manner that resembled Robert Indiana's famous LOVE logo. This launched Imagevirus, a project of paintings, sculptures, videos, posters, and exhibitions that investigated the term AIDS as both word and image, using the mechanism of viral transmission. The Imagevirus spread like a virus, producing an image epidemic in urban spaces from Manhattan to Sydney.
Opening with a prolonged salvo of fiery explosions accompanied by the warning cry of a siren, Dara Birnbaum's video Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978–79) is a concise, action-packed, and visually riveting video. During its seven-minute span we see, again and again, the transformation of the drab secretary Diana Prince into the super-heroic Wonder Woman. By isolating and repeating the moment of transformation—spinning figure, arms outstretched—Birnbaum unmasks the technology at the heart of the metamorphosis.
In 1967, Richard Long, then twenty-two years old and a student at Saint Martin's School of Art in London, walked back and forth along a straight line in the grass in the English countryside, leaving a track that he then photographed in black and white. The resulting work, A Line Made by Walking, was not only the starting point for Long's career as an artist but also a landmark for a new kind of art emerging in Europe and the Americas.
Following Marcel Duchamp's death in 1968, the Philadelphia Museum of Art stunned the art world by unveiling a project on which he had been working secretly for twenty years, long after he had supposedly given up art for chess.
Amna Malik opens her study of Sarah Lucas's Au Naturel (1994) by asking "Does art have a sex? And if so, what does it look like?" Au Naturel is an assemblage of objects—a mattress, a bucket, a pair of melons, oranges and a cucumber—that suggest male and female body parts.
In 1966, at the height of minimal art in New York, artist Michael Snow chose not to make another object to be placed in a room but instead spent a year planning a film of a room: Wavelength, a forty-five-minute more or less straight-line zoom from the near to the far wall of a loft space, accompanied by a rising sine wave.
Chris Marker's legendary "ciné roman" ("film novel") La Jetée is considered one of the greatest and most influential experimental films of all time. This short film—a postapocalyptic story composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs—has been praised by cultural theorists and Netflix subscribers alike.
In 1971 Alighiero e Boetti commissioned Afghan embroiderers to create a map of the world, with each country bearing the colours and pattern of its flag. The commission grew into a beautifully crafted, large-scale series of maps produced over a period of twenty years in Kabul, Afghanistan and Peshawar, Pakistan. Each map tracked geopolitical changes throughout the world: the break-up of the Soviet Union, the unification of Germany, disputes over territories in the Middle East and regime changes in the Eurasian peninsula.
In Andy Warhol's silent black-and-white movie, Blow Job (1964), a youth is filmed as he is apparently being given the sex act named in the title. The 35-minute film is accentuated by the paucity of expression on the actor's face: we see only his head and shoulders, rigidly framed so that all offscreen space has to be imagined, or avoided. Sometimes the young actor looks bored, sometimes as if he is thinking, sometimes as if he is aware of the camera, sometimes as if he is not. Like the protagonists of other Warhol films, he is apparently left to his own devices.
"It is my overall concern to reveal people as they are engaged in various kinds of activities—alone, with each other, with objects—and to weight the quality of the human body towards that of objects and away from the super-stylization of the dancer."
—Yvonne Rainer, STATEMENT accompanying The Mind is a Muscle, 1968
The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge) is a thirty-minute film by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss featuring a series of chain reactions involving ordinary objects. It is also one of the truly amazing works of art produced in the late twentieth century. Admired, even loved, by members of the public as much as it is praised by the more specialist audience of artists, critics, and curators, The Way Things Go was perhaps the most popular work shown at Documenta 8, Kassel, in 1987.
Marc Camille Chaimowicz was one of the first artists to merge the realms of performance and installation art. Chaimowicz distinguished himself in an era of stark minimalism by his unabashed pursuit of the beautiful, establishing himself in the 1970s with art that was playful and subtly seductive. Chaimowicz's post-Pop scatter environments owed as much to glam rock as to art practice and were informed by modern French literature (Gide, Cocteau, Proust, and Gênet) as well as by art theory. His important 1972 installation Celebration?