Art of the 20th Century



Postwar Developments & Contemporary Art

 

 


Art Styles in 20th century Art Map

 



The New Avant-garde & Postmodernism

 


 

     
     

Body Art - 1965
Gilbert & George 
Piero Manzoni
Gina Pane

     

Correspondence art
Ray Johnson

     

Visual Poetry - 1965
Eugen Gomringer
Eugenio Miccini 
Giuseppe Chiari 
Lamberto Pignotti

     


Minimalism
- 1965

Frank Stella
Sol LeWitt
Donald Judd
Robert Morris
Carl Andre

     

Modular constructivism
Erwin Hauer

     

Mec art - 1965
Alain Jacquet

     

Artists Groups - 1965-1967
Syn. German artists’ group - 1965

Bernd Berner
Eduard Micus

Zebra. German artists’ group - 1965

Dieter Asmus

Systemic Painting - 1966
Straight Ahead. Polish group - 1966
Archizoom (Associati). Italian architectural and design partnership - 1966
Supports-Surfaces. French group of painters - 1967

 
 
 
 




Body Art
 

When Duchamp dressed up as his feminine alter ego Rose Selavy, covered himself with shaving foam to hide features of his body, or had his head shaved in the shape of a star to be recorded for posterity by the lens of Man Ray, he was giving artistic meaning to his body and transforming it into a work of art. The wit and irony found in Duchamp's work re-emerged in the early 1960s in the creations of Piero Manzoni (1933-63), who in 1961 proposed turning people into living sculptures by keeping their bodies still and adorning them with certificates of authenticity. That same year, he also caused an uproar with his Merda d'artista, which consisted of 90 cans of the artist's excrement, for sale at the same price, weight for weight, as gold. However, the Body art that established itself in the later 1960s and 1970s was characterized by predominantly masochistic attitudes. It involves the misuse or abuse of the body and condemning existential violence through a demonstration of self-inflicted suffering. Gina Pane (b. 1939), for example, wounded herself with a variety of instruments, assigning negative feelings to symbols usually viewed in the opposite context. The roses in Azione sentimentale (1974) were not embraced in an exaltation of romanticism but to show the physical suffering inflicted by the thorns. Even when not engaged in painful actions, the image of the human body was distorted and its vitality transformed into a brute force. The Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer (b. 1929) had himself photographed in unnatural poses and then accentuated the crudeness by painting violent brushstrokes on the results. Self-inflicted pain gave way to humorous narcissism in the work of Gilbert & George (b. 1943 and 1942 respectively), who united to proclaim themselves "continuous sculptures" and to propose their very existence as an artistic continuum.
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Gilbert & George

 




 


Piero Manzoni
(Italian Arte Povera Conceptual Artist, 1933-1963)



Living Sculpture
1961



Artist's Breath

1960



Line 4.90m, December 1959
1959


Artist's Shit

1961
 



The Artists' Breath

 




 


Gina Pane
(1939-1990)



Action Psyche
1974



Autoportrait
s



Autoportrait



Terre protegee 2
Pinerolo (Italie)
1970



Marina Abramovic, Navykani od Giny Pane (Gina Pane's The Conditioning)



Sentimental Action
1973
Photo: F.Masson



Sentimental Action
1973



Nourriture, feu, actualites T.V.
1973



Untitled



Untitled

 



 

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Correspondence art
[Mail art].

Term applied to art sent through the post rather than displayed or sold through conventional commercial channels, encompassing a variety of media including postcards, books, images made on photocopying machines or with rubber stamps, postage stamps designed by artists, concrete poetry and other art forms generally considered marginal. Although Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters and the Italian Futurists have been cited as its precursors, as a definable international movement it can be traced to practices introduced in the early 1960s by artists associated with Fluxus, Nouveau Realisme and the Gutai group and most specifically to the work of Ray Johnson. From the mid-1950s Johnson posted poetic mimeographed letters to a select list of people from the art world and figures from popular culture, which by 1962 he had developed into a network that became known as the New York Correspondence School of Art.
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Ray Johnson
 

 




 

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Visual Poetry

Visual poetry was a descendant of the Futurists free-word style, in which words were displayed in ways that contravened any of the traditional norms of order and arrangement on the page. However, whereas the free words of Futurists compositions were valued ultimately as icons, in visual poetry the actual meaning of the words was indispensable to our understanding of the work. The verbal content was not in the form of captions or as a support to the images it accompanied, but was present to introduce meaningful diversions with a provocative content. These verbal visualizations also took images and slogans from the mass media and employed them in an ironic context. Emilio Isgro (b. 1937) achieved notable results in this field, although he opted for more personal interpretations than assemblages of words and images. In his work Dio e un essere perfettissimo (God is a Perfect Being, 1965) he parodies the link between religion, advertising, and mass-produced consumer goods. In another Conceptual manifestation, he deletes entire pages of books, leaving just a few words that gave evidence of unnecessary verbosity. More attention was given to the expressive potential of words by the protagonists of Concrete poetry, who came from literary, philosophical, and musical backgrounds. They conveyed their intent through patterns of words, letters, and symbols, rather than through a conventional arrangement of sentences. This was so with the Gruppo 70, formed in Florence in 1963 and involving poets and writers such as Eugenio Miccini and Lamberto Pignotti (also members of the literary Gruppo 63) and musicians like Giuseppe Chiari (in contact with the diverse artists of Fluxus). This experimentation in Italy, with contributions also from Vincenzo Accame, Carlo Belloli, Ugo Carrega, and Martino Oberto, had precedents in work that was carried out in the late 1950s in Brazil, Germany, and Switzerland. The style of the Concrete poets can clearly be seen in Schweigen (Silence, 1968) by Eugen Gomringer (b. 1925). The sudden interruption in the repetition of the word "schweigen", and the void or visual gap that it creates, becomes a subtle visualization of the semantic value of the whole composition.
 


Eugen Gomringer
(b. 1925)
Konkrete Poesie
Stuttgart 1978

 

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Eugenio Miccini
 


Giuseppe Chiari
 


Lamberto Pignotti
 




 

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Minimalism
 

The term "Minimal art" was coined in 1965 by the critic Richard Wollheim and encompassed a wide diversity of associated styles and concepts, among them ABC art, Object sculpture, Cool art, Primary structures, and Literalist art. The trend, which applied particularly to sculpture, arose in the 1950s, chiefly in the US. Its distinguishing characteristics were an extreme spareness of form and a minimal expressive content; this was in violent contrast to the flamboyant Abstract expressionist style that preceded it. The term is applied in a precise way to the works of sculptors such as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Tony Smith, which display the same essentially cold, geometric forms in vast sizes. The sheer scale on which some were conceived meant that they had a strong relationship with their surroundings and often assumed an architectural nature, allowing the spectator to cross or walk along the structure. The square copper plates that Carl Andre (b. 1935) laid on the floor, or the smooth and anonymous parallelepipeds of Donald Judd (1928-94) did not appear so different in concept from the repetitive objects in the work of Warhol. However, Warhol took cultural icons and reproduced them flatly and without emotion, while the Minimalists wanted to draw people's attention to extreme formal simplicity, which they believed was yet 10 be fully appreciated.
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Frank Stella

 



Sol LeWitt



 



Donald Judd
(USA 1928 – 1994)
Blog Archive;  Blog Archive;  Six boxes



 



Robert Morris
Untitled, (Pink Felt)
1970; Untitled, felt, dimensions variable, 1968; Untitled Felt



 


Carl Andre
(American Minimalist Sculptor, born in 1935)



Equivalent VIII



Aluminum Steel Plain



144 Graphite Silence



Lockblox



Convex Pyramid



Chain well

 




 

 

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Modular constructivism

(Modular constructivism, minimalism)

Modular constructivism is a style of sculpture that emerged in the
1950s and 1960s and was associated especially with Erwin Hauer and Norman Carlberg. It is based on carefully structured modules which allow for intricate and in some cases infinite patterns of repetition, sometimes used to create limitless, basically planar, screen-like formations, and sometimes employed to make more multidimensional structures. Designing these structures involves intensive study of the combinatorial possibilities of sometimes quite curvilinear and fluidly shaped modules, creating a seemless, quasi-organic unity that can be either rounded and self-enclosed, or open and potentially infinite. The latter designs have proved useful and attractive for use in eye-catching architectural walls and screens, often featuring complex patterns of undulating, tissue-like webbing, with apertures which transmit and filter light, while generating delicate patterns of shadow.

Writing in Architecture Week (August 4, 2004), Hauer explains that "Continuity and potential infinity have been at the very center of my sculpture from early on." Hauer made an extensive study of biomorphic form, especially what he calls "saddle surfaces," which combine convex and concave curvature and thus allow for smooth self-combination, sometimes in multiple dimensions. Another inspiration is the sculpture of Henry Moore, with its fluid curves and porousness.

Hauer's enthusiasm caught the imagination of his colleague at Yale, Norman Carlberg. Both were devoted students of the arch-formalist Josef Albers. Indeed, from the beginning, there was in this modular approach to sculpture an implicit formalism and even minimalism which held itself aloof from some of the other artistic trends of the time, such as the pop art and post-modernism that were just beginning to emerge. As Carlberg recalls, within his artistic circle "you analysed, you looked at something, but you looked at it formally just for what it was and the message was almost always out of it."
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Erwin Hauer

(b.1926)



 

 

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ANALYTICAL PAINTING

In Europe during the 1960s and 1970s, a period of experimentation took place comparable with that being carried out in the US in Minimalist painting. Two groups working in this area in France in the late 1970s were BMPT and Support-Surface, whose precedents could well have been the series of blue "monochromes" by Yves Klein (1928-62). A lack of pictorial content characterizes the work of Giorgio Griffa, Rodolfo Arico, Claudio Olivieri, and Claudio Verna, while the work of Piero Manzoni and Giulio Paolini is full of Conceptual nuances. From 1958 to I960 Manzoni was already producing his white monochrome Achromes, reducing the picture to a mere rough support soaked in kaolin. Meanwhile, Paolini demonstrated the basic elements of painting in his Geometric Design, which was simply a square, unprimed. unadorned piece of canvas. With similar intentions in the 1970s, Morales (b. 1942) created diptychs composed of two canvases, one painted all over, the other left untouched.
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Mec art.

Term coined in 1965 as an abbreviation of ‘mechanical art’ by Alain Jacquet and Mimmo Rotella and promoted by the French critic Pierre Restany (b 1930) to describe paintings using photographically transferred images that could be produced in theoretically unlimited numbers. The term was first publicly used of works by Serge Beguier (b 1934), Pol Bury, Gianni Bertini (b 1922), Nikos (b 1930), Jacquet and Rotella at an exhibition at the Galerie J in Paris entitled Hommage à Nicéphore Niépce. In contrast to the use of screenprinting by Americans such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol to incorporate photographic images, the Mec artists projected images directly on to canvases coated with photosensitive emulsion, and they generally used the method to alter rather than merely reproduce the original photographic image. In his Cinétizations, for example, Bury cut and turned concentric rings in the original photograph before rephotographing the image and transferring it on to canvas, as in La Joconde (1964). Having earlier used the method of décollage, Rotella continued to rely on torn surfaces when he began in 1964 to produce works that he termed reportages, rephotographing his altered material before projecting it on to the sensitized canvas. Jacquet, for his part, broke down the photographic image in paintings such as his Déjeuner sur l’herbe series (1964; e.g. Paris, Fonds N. A. Contemp.) into a pattern of coloured spots to imitate the process of printing by four-colour separations used in the mass media.
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Alain Jacquet

 



 

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Syn.

German artists’ group formed in 1965 in Stuttgart by Bernd Berner (b 1930), Klaus Jurgen-Fischer (b 1930) and Eduard Micus (b 1925). They were joined in 1966 by the painter Erwin Bechtold (b 1925). The driving force behind the group was Jürgen-Fischer, who had worked on the editorial staff of Das Kunstwerk and had written an existentialist philosophical work Der Unfug des Seines (1955). In 1963 he published a manifesto ‘Was ist komplexe Malerei?’, establishing the theoretical basis of Syn. Its members, three of whom (Berner, Jürgen-Fischer and Micus) had studied under Willi Baumeister at the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart, shared a common background in abstraction. Their work ranged from Berner’s highly individual colour field paintings (e.g. Index of Work 793, 1961) to Bechtold’s hard-edge abstraction, which combined geometric shapes and amorphous forms (e.g. Orgina Organa 66–31, 1966). The group’s purpose was to redefine the elements and means of painting to enable the controlled use of often extreme techniques within the context of an art that was to be seen as self-referential. These principles were given voice in the journal Syn, edited by Jurgen-Fischer, and eventually set down in programmatic form in 12 points in the catalogue of their exhibition at the Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, in 1967. The group’s membership was not fixed and the core members were joined from time to time by other non-figurative artists, such as Kumi Sugai and Wilhelm Loth. The group stopped exhibiting together in 1970.

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Bernd Berner

(b 1930)
Flachenraum



Eduard Micus

(b 1925)
Komposition Sommer I




 

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Zebra.

German artists’ group formed in Hamburg in 1965 by the painters Dieter Asmus (b 1939), Peter Nagel (b 1942), Nikolaus Stortenbecker (b 1940) and Dietmar Ullrich (b 1940). They were all graduates of the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste in Hamburg and shared a common interest in Photorealism. Their work was characterized by the setting of objects and figures against an indistinct background. Despite the precise delineation of objects, sometimes approaching trompe l’oeil in the work of Nagel, their paintings were not naturalistic. Colour and form were used in an anti-realistic way, and the artists sometimes adopted the convention of using monochrome for figures and bright, arbitrary colours for inanimate objects, as in Asmus’s Vitamin-Bomb (1976; Bochum, priv. col.). From photography they took the device of cutting off figures and objects, thus robbing their images of traditional compositional structure. Stortenbecker, in particular, employed a precise, minutely detailed realism that gave his work the impression of being a photograph, rather than a painted image. In the work of all four artists there was a tendency to suppress dramatic and expressive content by means of an apparently objective manner and by their attempts to dissociate their subjects from any ‘meaning’ that might have attached to them. This is as true of Ullrich’s paintings featuring sport (e.g. Swimmer, 1970–71; Neuss, Clemens-Sels-Mus.), which give the impression of a freeze-frame camera, as it is of Nagel’s isolated, oversized technological fragments (e.g. Red Tent, 1972–4). The members of Zebra exhibited widely in Germany and elsewhere both independently and as a group.

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Dieter Asmus
Zebra vor Rot
, 1968

Dieter Asmus
(b 1939)



Dieter Asmus
Frau mit Kreisel
, 1967



Dieter Asmus
Ski-Urlauberin




 

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SYSTEMIC PAINTING

A branch of Minimal art that relied on the use of simple, standardized, non-representational forms, "Systemic painting" was the title of a show organized by the British art critic Lawrence Alloway in 1966 at New York's Guggenheim Museum. Contributors included the American artists Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, and Robert Ryman, as well as Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt, two leading exponents of Abstract Expressionism. Frank Stella (b. 1936) had already taken ideas from Reinhardt and Newman in the late 1950s as inspiration for his attempts to reduce painting to its fundamental essence; his work was to be read solely in terms of form and colour, without any pretence that it revealed the artist's state of mind. In this respect, Systemic painting displayed similar intentions to the contemporary Minimal sculpture of artists such as Carl Andre and Donald Judd.

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Straight Ahead
[Pol. Wprost].

Polish group of artists established in 1966 by five graduates from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków: Maciej Bieniasz (b 1938); Zbylut Grzywacz (b 1939); Barbara Skapska (b 1938), who participated only in the first exhibition; Leszek Sobocki (b 1934), a member of the group until 1986, and Jacek Waltos (Jacek Buszynski) (b 1938). They were inspired by the metaphorical paintings of Adam Hoffmann (b 1918), their teacher at the Academy, and considered Andrzej Wróblewski as an influential precursor. Two published manifestos (1966, 1969) clearly defined their programme: the representation of all subjects, no matter how brutal or unpleasant, in a manner unrestricted and unveiled by any conventions. They aimed to speak openly and straightforwardly about existence and emotions, using a simple artistic language and rejecting both abstraction and the Colourism of the followers of the Kapists. Early works that showed a concern for figuration, such as Grzywacz’s The Forsaken (oil, 1973–4; Warsaw, N. Mus.), gave way to a form of realism in which the creative technical process was deliberately revealed, giving an unfinished appearance to their work, as in Waltos’s sculptures in the form of hollow moulds. A form of allegory often co-existed with this harsh realism in the group’s work, for example in Bieniasz’s dull Silesian cityscapes and Sobocki’s self-portraits (e.g. Tattoo, oil, 1978) and prints (e.g. Blood, linocut, 1971; both Warsaw, N. Mus.).

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Archizoom (Associati).

Italian architectural and design partnership formed in 1966 by Andrea Branzi (b 1939), Gilberto Corretti (b 1941), Paolo Deganello (b 1940) and Massimo Morozzi. These were joined by Dario Bartolini and Lucia Bartolini in 1968. They were based in Florence and were influenced initially by the utopian visions of the English architectural group Archigram. They achieved international prominence following appearances at the Superarchitettura exhibitions of radical architecture held at Pistoia (1966) and Modena (1967) and organized with the SUPERSTUDIO group. Numerous projects and essays reflected the group’s search for a new, highly flexible and technology-based approach to urban design, and in the late 1960s exhibition and product design began to form a significant part of their work. The Superonda and Safari sofas, designed for the Poltronova company, combine modular flexibility with kitsch-inspired shiny plastic and leopard-skin finishes. Their central aim of stimulating individual creativity and fantasy was the focus of installations such as the Centre for Electric Conspiracy, with its closed, perfumed meditation areas housing exotic objects from different cultures, and the empty grey room presented at Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, an exhibition held at MOMA, New York, in 1972. In the latter a girl’s voice describes the light and colour of a beautiful house that is left to the listener to imagine. Dress is the theme of the two films (Vestirsi è facile and Come è fatto il capotto di Gogol ) that the group made shortly before disbanding in 1974 to follow separate careers.

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Supports-Surfaces.

French group of painters, active from 1967 to 1972. The group began to evolve through the discussions of Claude Viallat (b 1936), Daniel Dezeuze (b 1942) and Patrick Saytour (b 1935). Reacting against the notion of the artist as an image maker and illusionist, they concentrated upon the very materials that underpinned painting. Dezeuze, for example, produced works whose main component was a canvas stretcher, either painted or, as in Frame (1967; Paris, Pompidou), covered with transparent plastic. In 1969 the three artists exhibited at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, together with Marcel Alocco (b 1937), Noel Dolla (b 1945), Bernard Pages (b 1940) and Jean-Pierre Pincemin (b 1944). The group acquired its name in 1970 with the first Supports-Surfaces exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The name was whimsically suggested by one of its participants, Vincent Bioulès.

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Claude Viallat

(b 1936)



Sans titre n° 012



Sans titre n° 226



Untitled n°224



Untitled n° 020


 

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