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Art History

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Between Utopia and Kitsch

In 1961, a solo exhibition by Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana met with a scathing critical response from New York art critics. Fontana (1899–1968), well known in Europe for his series of slashed monochrome paintings, offered New York ten canvases slashed and punctured, thickly painted in luridly brilliant hues and embellished with chunks of colored glass.

Allan Kaprow and the Invention of Happenings

“Happenings” have pop connotations that conjure up 1960s youth culture and hippies in public, joyful rebellion. Scholars, meanwhile, locate happenings in a genealogy of avant-garde performance that descends from futurism, surrealism, and Dada through the action painting of the 1950s. In Radical Prototypes, Judith Rodenbeck argues for a more complex etiology. Allan Kaprow coined the term in 1958 to name a new collage form of performance, calling happenings “radical prototypes” of performance art. Rodenbeck offers a rigorous art historical reading of Kaprow’s project and related artworks.

A Pataphysical Life

When Alfred Jarry died in 1907 at the age of thirty-four, he was a legendary figure in Paris--but this had more to do with his bohemian lifestyle and scandalous behavior than his literary achievements. A century later, Jarry is firmly established as one of the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde. Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Baudrillard, Philip K. Dick, Paul McCartney, DJ Spooky, Peter Greenaway, and J. G. Ballard are among his many admirers.

Edited by Julia Robinson

John Cage (1912–1992) defined a radical practice of composition that changed the course of modern music and shaped a new conceptual horizon for postwar art. Famous for his use of chance and “silence” in musical works, a pioneer in electronic music and the nonstandard use of instruments, Cage was one of the most influential composers of the last century. This volume traces a trajectory of writings on the artist, from the earliest critical reactions to the scholarship of today.

To the extent that Chinese contemporary art has become a global phenomenon, it is largely through the groundbreaking exhibitions curated by Gao Minglu: "China/Avant-Garde" (Beijing, 1989), "InsideOut: New Chinese Art" (Asia Society, New York, 1998), and "TheWall: Reshaping Contemporary Chinese Art" (Albright-Knox Art Gallery,2005) among them. As the first Chinese writer to articulate a distinctively Chinese avant-gardism and modernity—one notdefined by Western chronology or formalism—Gao Minglu is largelyresponsible for the visibility of Chinese art in the global art scene today.

Conical Intersect

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.

An Alternative Space for Art

Magazine publishing is an exercise in ephemerality and transience; each issue goes out in the world only to be rendered obsolete by the next. To publish a magazine is to enter into a heightened relationship with the present moment. During the 1960s and 1970s, magazines became an important new site of artistic practice, functioning as an alternative exhibition space for the dematerialized practices of conceptual art.

Aspects of Art and Technology in Australia, 1956-1975

New technologies continually arise, offering repeated opportunities to artists in search of the technologically novel. Stephen Jones calls this phenomenon the "rolling new," and in Synthetics he describes how artists in Australia used new technologies in their art, from the early days of digital computing in the 1950s to a landmark exhibition in 1975. Jones looks at not only the artists and the artworks they produced but also at the evolution of computing technologies and video displays as these new forms of media developed into tools that artists could use.

New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973
Edited by Margit Rosen

This book documents a short but intense artistic experiment that took place in Yugoslavia fifty years ago but has been influential far beyond that time and place: the "little-known story" of the advent of computers in art. It was through the activities of the New Tendencies movement, begun in Zagreb in 1961, and its supporting institution the Galerija suvremene umjetnosti that the "thinking machine" was adopted as an artistic tool and medium.

Edited by Alex Kitnick

Since the 1960s, Dan Graham’s heterogeneous practice has touched on such disparate subjects as tract housing, the Shakers, punk music, and architectural theory; he has made videos, architectural models, closed-circuit installations, and glass pavilions. Graham, who came of age during the emergence of earth art, minimalism, and conceptualism, has situated his work on the borders between these different strains of contemporary practice.

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