In 1968, the Italian artist Alighiero Boetti renamed himself Alighiero e (“and”) Boetti, effectively expressing the duality of his personality and his work--and, by extension, the dichotomies of society and culture and art and life. Boetti was a central figure in the arte povera movement, a group of Italian artists in the late 1960s who expressly distanced themselves from commercialization and the slickness of Pop Art. These artists worked with a wide range of nonconventional materials--from wool and vegetables to silk and dirt.
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.
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 (born in 1947) 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?
"You want beauty? I'll give you beauty!" ;Mary HeilmannMary Heilmann is one of the most important abstract painters of her generation. Her distinctively fluid, humorous, and bright canvases combine the modes of Abstract Expressionism with a vibrant Pop sensibility. Heilmannn's 1979 painting in hot pink and black, evocatively titled Save the Last Dance for Me, marked a shift in the artist’s perspective. Heilmann describes it: "Now the work came from a different place.
In Richard Prince's 1977 work Untitled (couple), difference mixes uncannily with sameness. We can't quite tell whether the shiny couple we see is human or android; their clothing seems curiously out of date. Why do they fascinate us? What is it about their typicality that produces an impression of strangeness?Michael Newman explores Prince's work and his revival of the image through photography--rephotographed reproduced photographs--after the impasses of conceptualism.
Joan Jonas approaches video as a drawing tool, a mirror, and a framing device. Since 1968, she has used video and performance to explore ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the archetypal authority of objects and gestures. With her influential 1976 work, I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) Jonas nimbly structures an elliptical narrative that unmistakably establishes her voice and visual lexicon.
The artistic map of Europe contains different degrees of detail and resolution. Italy, France, and Spain are presented in fine grain, but the Balkan peninsula is little more than a vague outline. England, Germany, and Scandinavia have many features filled in, but to the east of Germany things are blurred. Until recently, cities like Sofia, Odessa, Skopje, and Belgrade had next to no definition.
In 1975 Bas Jan Ader disappeared at sea while trying to sail from the East Coast of the United States to Europe as part of a project titled In Search of the Miraculous. Ader's considerable influence on later conceptual artists stems from the way in which he used the cool analytic and antisubjective aesthetics of conceptual art to explore experiences that would seem definitively subjective--the emotional intensity of tragedy and the romantic quest for the sublime.
In his 1971 short film, (nostalgia) , American artist and writer Hollis Frampton oveturned the conventional narrative roles of words and images. In his account of an artists's transformation from photographer to filmmaker, Frampton burns photographs he had taken and selected from his past along with one found photograph. A calm voice tells a story about an image, but the story is about the following image, not the one shown.
The fictitious hero of this 1984 installation is a lonely dreamer who develops an impossible project: to fly alone in cosmic space. But this dream is also an individual appropriation of a collective Soviet project and the official Soviet propaganda connected to it. Having built a makeshift slingshot, the hero apparently flies through the ceiling of his shabby room and vanishes into space.