re: Art in the Sixties [4 posts]

jo grant (
Sun, 19 May 1996 13:57:00 -0400


There is a Kienholz retrospective at the whitney in NYC. It closed June 2
and will move to the Museam of Contemporary Art in LA. Julia Stein is right
in stating that he towers over everyone.
As soon as I have dates I'll get back with them for he is truly a part of
the Sixties.

jo grant
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Dear Sixties People:

I would like to add a few words about Ed Kienholz to Julia's Stein's
informative post on Art in the 60s. Three of Kienholz's assemblages deal
specifically with his powerful anti-Vietnam War work:

*The Portable War Memorial* (1968) details Marines raising a flag
reminiscent of Iwo Jima, only this flag is raised on a picnic table in a
familiar-seeming diner. Near the figures, Kate Smith sings "God Bless
America," and directly above their heads is the Uncle Sam I WANT YOU
poster. Behind the table is a list of 475 nations that no longer exist
because of wars. On the right a smiling couple drink coke with their backs
turned to the soldiers.

*The Eleventh Hour Final* (1968) recreates a contemporary suburban living room,
where a television set, shaped like a tombstone, is prominently displayed.
Within the TV, a disembodied head stares out at the viewer. Instead of the
"wasteland's" usual inane patter, the TV lists "The Week's Toll"



*The Non War Memorial* (1970) features stuffed American military uniforms
from the Vietnam War period. The uniforms are corpse-like and laid at
random. Surrounding the figures are dirt, seeds, books, and a podium.
Eventually the uniforms rot, and the seeds sprout wildflowers.

*Five Car Stud* (1969-72) does not specifically detail war, but it does
illustrate the barbarism of American racism. Three cars illuminate the
scene where four white men "surgically" castrate a Black man who is tied
down. On his chest is the fractured lettering of the word, "Nigger."
Behind the "operation," a white woman cowers in a truck. She is vomiting.

*Kienholz: A Retrospective* is available from the Whitney Museum of Art.


>From lboulter@mail.awinc.comSun May 19 13:52:00 1996

At 08:29 PM 5/17/96 -0400, you wrote:
>If one wanted to teach "visual art in the '60s" one should look at which
>art forms in the sixties inspired art after the 1960s.
>There were five such art forms: assemblage (sculpture); performance art;
>abstract expressionism; video art; Chicano art.(snip)
>that's all for now, Julie
>There were a couple of art forms the were born and died in the 60's. The
lesser known one was environments, making over a room or space so that being
in it was akin to being somewhere inside the body, somewhere out of Dali's
daydreams or just having the walls as psychedelic as the inside of your
mind. Toys, automobile reflectors, pieces of mirror, Christmas lights or
even bedsprings were attached to the floor, walls and ceiling. Projection
was often involved, and music or just sounds were played.

The better known art form was the light show.Even though a few light shows
were being done to jazz in the late 50's, light shows are synonymous with
the 60's in many people's minds, and experienced their golden age in a
period of not more than 5 years.
I am writing a book on light shows and would like to hear from anyone who
has any information about them. If you used to do them, know how I can reach
someone who did, remember a particular image or an anecdote, please contact me.
Thank you,
Greg Evans

Preoccupation: Foolosopher


"If one wanted to teach "visual art in the '60s" one should look at
which art forms in the sixties inspired art after the 1960s.
There were five such art forms: assemblage (sculpture); performance
art; abstract expressionism; video art; Chicano art.
I think op art and pop art were short lived movements that had little
influence after the 1960s."

I don't entirely agree with Julie Stein's assessment of Pop Art. I
don't think we could have Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kreuger, David Salle,
Jeff Koons or a whole host of other arts of the 1980s and '90s without
it (how we feel about them may be another matter). In fact, the ways in
which Pop (and even Op) art have aged are in themselves instructive.
Rauschenberg's work seems amazingly static and dated now, whereas the
aggressively social nature of much of Andy Warhol's work looks more
political every year. In retrospect, Warhol turns out to have been the
deeper thinker.

Similarly, Abstract Expressionism was a movement of the '40s and '50s
and I think its impact must be read in the light of the very different
times those were.

But most of all, what I'd recommend to anyone thinking of teaching art
of the 160s is that they look at Lucy Lippard's brilliant book, Six
Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object. While it represents
Lippard prior to her political turn, it is I think implicit throughout.

Ron Silliman