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MUHI Final Review

Terms in this set (52)

Post-painterly abstraction is a term created by art critic Clement Greenberg as the title for an exhibit he curated for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964, which subsequently travelled to the Walker Art Center and the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Greenberg had perceived that there was a new movement in painting that derived from the abstract expressionism of the 1940s and 1950s but "favored openness or clarity" as opposed to the dense painterly surfaces of that painting style. The 31 artists in the exhibition included Walter Darby Bannard, Jack Bush, Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Friedel Dzubas, Paul Feeley, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Nicholas Krushenick, Alexander Liberman, Morris Louis, Arthur Fortescue McKay, Howard Mehring, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Ray Parker, David Simpson, Albert Stadler, Frank Stella, Mason Wells, Emerson Woelffer, and a number of other American and Canadian artists who were becoming well known in the 1960s.[1]

Among the prior generation of contemporary artists, Barnett Newman has been singled out as one who anticipated "some of the characteristics of post-painterly abstraction."[2]

As painting continued to move in different directions, initially away from abstract expressionism, powered by the spirit of innovation of the time, the term "post-painterly abstraction", which had obtained some currency in the 1960s, was gradually supplanted by minimalism, hard-edge painting, lyrical abstraction, and color field painting
The term "Minimalism" has evolved over the last half-century to include a vast number of artistic media, and its precedents in the visual arts can be found in Mondrian, van Doesburg, Reinhardt, and in Malevich's monochromes. But it was born as a self-conscious movement in New York in the early 1960s. Its leading figures - Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Robert Morris, and Carl Andre - created objects which often blurred the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and were characterized by unitary, geometric forms and industrial materials. Emphasizing cool anonymity over the hot expressivism of the previous generation of painters, the Minimalists attempted to avoid metaphorical associations, symbolism, and suggestions of spiritual transcendence.

The revival of interest in Russian Constructivism and Marcel Duchamp's readymades provided important inspiration for the Minimalists. The Russian's example suggested an approach to sculpture that emphasised modular fabrication and industrial materials over the craft techniques of most modern sculpture. And Duchamp's readymades pointed to ways in which sculpture might make use of a variety of pre-fabricated materials, or aspire to the appearance of factory-built commodities.
Much of Minimalist aesthetics was shaped by a reaction against Abstract Expressionism. Minimalists wanted to remove suggestions of self-expressionism from the art work, as well as evocations of illusion or transcendence - or, indeed, metaphors of any kind, though as some critics have pointed out, that proved difficult. Unhappy with the modernist emphasis on medium-specificity, the Minimalists also sought to erase distinctions between paintings and sculptures, and to make instead, as Donald Judd said: "specific objects."
In seeking to make objects which avoided the appearance of fine art objects, the Minimalists attempted to remove the appearance of composition from their work. To that end, they tried to expunge all signs of the artists guiding hand or thought processes - all aesthetic decisions - from the fabrication of the object. For Donald Judd, this was part of Minimalism's attack on the tradition of "relational composition" in European art, one which he saw as part of an out-moded rationalism. Rather than the parts of an artwork being carefully, hierarchically ordered and balanced, he said they should be "just one thing after another."
was the name of a magazine founded in 1957 by Heinz Mack officially disappeared in 1967. The word "zero" expressed, in Otto Piene's words, "a zone of silence and of pure possibilities for a new beginning."[1] The movement is commonly interpreted as reaction to Abstract Expressionism by arguing that art should be void of color, emotion and individual expression.[2] Many of the Zero artists are better known for their affiliations with other movements, including Nouveau réalisme, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Op Art and Kinetic art.[3]

Mack and Piene invited artists like Günther Uecker to exhibit in their studio, and the three friends became the founding fathers of the Zero movement, which would soon reach out to embrace artists throughout Europe. Working in an environment without galleries and contemporary art spaces, these artists came together to exhibit their work in a series of one-day-only evening exhibitions, often staged in their studios.[4]

Manifestos were often published in association with the shows, such as Zero 1 (1958), Zero 2 (1958), and Zero 3 (1961). These included texts in multiple languages written by artists and curators active in the Zero circle who sought to define what they termed The New Artistic Conception. The involved artists soon established a vigorous network of collaboration and exchange. Like-minded practitioners came above all from France (Arman, Jean Tinguely, and Yves Klein), Italy (Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni), Spain (Antoni Tàpies), and Austria (Arnulf Rainer).[5] In the Netherlands, the "informal group" of Nul artists began around 1958 and can be narrowed to four: Jan Schoonhoven, Armando, Jan Henderikse and Henk Peeters, who were linked to the Italian and German painters but penned their own manifesto.[6] Latin American artists, like the Venezuelan Jesús Rafael Soto, the Argentine Luis Tomasello, and Brazilian Almir Mavignier became affiliated with Zero while working in Paris in the 1950s.
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States.[1] Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, etc. In pop art, material is sometimes visually removed from its known context, isolated, and/or combined with unrelated material.[1][2] The concept of pop art refers not as much to the art itself as to the attitudes that led to it.[2]

Pop art employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. It is widely interpreted as a reaction to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism, as well as an expansion upon them.[3] And due to its utilization of found objects and images it is similar to Dada. Pop art is aimed to employ images of popular as opposed to elitist culture in art, emphasizing the banal or kitschy elements of any given culture, most often through the use of irony.[2] It is also associated with the artists' use of mechanical means of reproduction or rendering techniques.

Pop art and minimalism are considered to be art movements that precede postmodern art, or are some of the earliest examples of Post-modern Art themselves.[4]

Pop art often takes as its imagery that which is currently in use in advertising. Product labeling and logos figure prominently in the imagery chosen by pop artists, like in the Campbell's Soup Cans labels, by Andy Warhol. Even the labeling on the shipping box containing retail items has been used as subject matter in pop art, for example in Warhol's Campbell's Tomato Juice Box 1964, (pictured below), or his Brillo Soap Box sculptures.
Stella completed a total of sixteen copper paintings; like most titles in the series, Ouray [9] (painted soon after Stella's inclusion in the now legendary "Sixteen Americans" exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1959-1960) exists as two large versions and the present smaller version. This more intimate scale was executed at the suggestion of Castelli and Ivan Karp, who encouraged Stella to replicate the original copper paintings in a more 'portable' format. [10] "The copper pictures ... represent the extreme—the limit—to which I could take the shaping. Even though so much is cut away—and in some cases so arbitrarily—what saves them, I think, is the fact that they keep echoing a kind of rectilinearity." [11]

Ouray's Greek cross, like the other works in the series, is an extraction from patterns in the Black paintings. Yet they operate as much more open pictures than the latter, and are defined less by their monumentality than by the thrust, even dynamism visible on the surface of their contoured canvases. It is composed on cardinal points, reinforcing the expansiveness of the picture field. Yet Stella's rectilinear brushstrokes belie the sensibility of their irregularities. They're impossible to reproduce. Separating the stripes are the pauses, the void-like spaces of painterly avoidance, wherein the supposedly flat picture plane is both challenged with hint of potential depth and exquisitely disintegrated into many separate picture planes (were one to read a stripe as its own entity, as Newman did in Oneness). Did it, as it would seem, have a systematic facture? Despite the work's explicit regularity, the configuration of these paintings was rather more liberally conceived, through a process whereby the outermost border dictated the internal separation of the stripes. The working method on the copper series is supported by sketches.
"The saturated blotter effect of the thin paint on the unprimed canvas is very compelling. Yet I am somewhat uneasy about it. The accidental element seems to be carried too far" Frankenthaler embraced Abstract Expressionism as a part of the second generation in which she created a dialogue with and departure from Pollock's painting. She constantly reasserted her interest in making art that is good, not gendered. In her exposure to the New York school in the 1950's, she was initially highly influenced by Willem de Kooning. She eventually leaned toward Pollock because she felt that she could depart from his work into her own. This was unusual for the second generation because many painted similarly to de Kooning (Cross). Frankenthaler described that Pollock opened the way for her to make her own mark. She was not interested in Pollock's drips but instead in his mode of working on the floor and without a conventional brush. When commenting on her departure from drip to stain, Frankenthaler maintains her Abstract Expressionist authenticity, "I had no plan, I just worked. The point was to get down the urgent message I felt somehowready to express...I needed something more liquid, watery, thinner. The stain was significant to Frankenthaler's work because it became her mode of resistance and it allowed her to function within Abstract Expressionism as an outsider. Many women of the 1950's had returned to the role of homemaker after the war and men became 'organization men' who followed the rules of their corporations. People began to search for a sense of individuality and they found it within the arts. Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists represented and embodied the 'frontiersmen.' Their work gave viewers a sense of freedom and authentic expression of the masculine self, which was eagerly acquired within the cold war economy. As a woman, Frankenthaler had to find a way to exist within an art world that only valued this male expression. She existed as an outsider within Abstract Expressionism by creating her stain paintings.
All of the Color Field artists were concerned with the classic problems of pictorial space and the flatness of the picture plane. In 1953, Louis visited Helen Frankenthaler's New York studio, where he saw and was greatly impressed by her stain paintings especially Mountains and Sea (1952). Upon his return to Washington, Louis experimented with various techniques of paint application. Louis characteristically applied extremely diluted, thinned paint to an unprimed, unstretched canvas, allowing it to flow over the inclined surface in effects sometimes suggestive of translucent color veils. The importance of Frankenthaler's example in Louis's development of this technique has been noted. Louis reported that he thought of Frankenthaler as the bridge between Jackson Pollock and the possible. However, even more so than Frankenthaler, Louis eliminated the brush gesture, although his flat, thin pigment is at times modulated in billowing and subtle tones.

In 1954, Louis produced his mature Veil Paintings, which were characterized by overlapping, superimposed layers of transparent color poured onto and stained into sized or unsized canvas. The Veil Paintings consist of waves of brilliant, curving color-shapes submerged in translucent washes through which separate colors emerge principally at the edges. Although subdued, the resulting color is immensely rich. In another series, the artist used long parallel bands and stripes of pure color arranged side by side in rainbow effects.

The thinned acrylic paint was allowed to stain the canvas, making the pigment at one with the canvas as opposed to "on top". This conformed to Greenberg's conception of "Modernism" as it made the entire picture plane flat.
one of Tony Smith's first steel sculptures and the inspiration for much of his later work. He had made a six-inch cardboard model in black in 1962, but he did not have Die fabricated until 1968. To have it made, Smith telephoned the Industrial Welding Company in Newark, New Jersey, whose sign, "You specify it; we fabricate it," had caught his eye on trips to and from New York.

The artist's specifications for the sculpture were as follows: "a six-foot cube of quarter-inch hot-rolled steel with diagonal internal bracing." The dimensions were determined, according to Smith, by the proportions of the human body. He explained that a larger scale would have endowed Die with the stature of a "monument," while a smaller one would have reduced it to a mere "object." It is this simple yet profound observation about scale that placed Die at the center of key artistic debates. Weighing approximately 500 pounds and resting on the museum floor, the sculpture invites us to walk around it and experience it sequentially, one or two sides at a time.

The sculpture's deceptively simple title invites multiple associations: it alludes to die casting, to one of a pair of dice, and ultimately, to death. As Smith remarked, "Six feet has a suggestion of being cooked. Six foot box. Six foot under." Rationality, evoked by Die's purely geometric configuration, is countered by the sculpture's brooding presence. Meaning becomes relative rather than absolute, something generated through the interplay of word and object. Weaving together strains of architecture, industrial manufacture, and the found object, Smith radically transformed the way sculpture could look, how it could be made, and how it could be understood.

The form, materials, and impersonal surfaces of the sculpture relate to Smith's architectural background and to minimalist art of the mid-1960s. However, the artist also embraced the heroic and humanistic attitudes associated with abstract expressionist art of the 1950s. Smith was a pivotal figure who bridged two generations, and Die is now recognized as an icon of post-war American art.

There are four examples of Die, but only two were produced during the artist's lifetime: no. 1/3 was manufactured in 1962 and belongs to the Whitney Museum of Art, New York. The present example, no. 2/3, was fabricated in 1968 and kept in the artist's backyard in South Orange, New Jersey, until his death in 1980. The two posthumous examples belong, respectively, to a private collector in Philadelphia and to the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Unfortunately, any photograph of Robert Morris's L Beams is going to miss the point if we want to understand the object both in an artistic and material sense. Morris wanted to expose the conditions of perception and display and the fact that these conditions always affect the way we comprehend the art object—sculpture always exists somewhere in relationship to someone at sometime. This specificity, Morris felt, had not been investigated enough, even by the many avant-garde experiments that define Modernism.

By placing two eight-foot fiberglass "L-Beams" in a gallery space (often, he showed three), Morris demonstrated that a division existed between our perception of the object and the actual object. While viewers perceived the beams as being different shapes and sizes, in actuality, they were the same shape and of equal size. In direct opposition to Modernism's focus on the internal syntax of the object, that is, how the object can be understood as something "self-contained," Morris choose instead to examine the external syntax; the theatricality of the object—the way an object extends out from itself into its environment. In his series of essays on sculpture written in the late 1960s, Morris observed how he wanted to make sculpture,

A function of space, light, and the viewer's field of vision [...] for it is the viewer
who changes the shape constantly by his change in position relative to the work. [...]
There are two distinct terms: the known constant and the experienced variable.
This last line is revealing as it demonstrates the crux of L-Beams. No matter how hard we try, we can't reconcile what we see and what we know. Morris' objects appear one way, "the expierenced variable," but in our minds we identify them to be another, "the known constant."

Informed by theories of the body and perception, including his reading of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (1945), Morris explored the circumstances of the art object as we actually encounter it. He asked, why do we ignore the space and conditions of display in the presentation of art? Why do we only focus on the object? What about everything that circumscribes it; from its frame, to the wall that it is hung on, to the shape of the space that we put it in.
accord Bleu is one of the earliest of Yves Klein's revolutionary Reliefs éponges, his celebrated sponge reliefs. This work, with its incredibly variegated surface articulated by the application of numerous sponges, all coated in an even, deep blue, has been given the number RE 52 by the archives dedicated to the artist's work. This is one of the few examples of the Reliefs éponges to have been given a specific title: Accord bleu, which Klein would use again two years later as a title for a sponge relief now in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, speaks of agreement within the realm of the hallowed blue that was Klein's greatest weapon in his arsenal of the metaphysical and the Immaterial. On the reverse of Accord Bleu, as well as the artist's name, title and date, is a clue to the importance of the picture. For the word 'Gelsenkirchen' is also written there. Klein's career came to be intimately entwined with the German city, and it was in relation to his epic mural project there that the Reliefs éponges such as Accord Bleu were originally conceived. It was in part the favorable reception that Klein received again and again in Germany that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest artistic pioneers of the post-war period; Accord Bleu is an important witness to this historic juncture.

The development of the Reliefs éponges such as Accord Bleu owed itself to a series of acquaintances and friendships that Klein had made. It was in May 1957 that he had met the sculptor Norbert Kricke, who had been given a show at the gallery of Iris Clert, Klein's great supporter. Kricke had visited Paris alongside the architect Werner Ruhnau. During this time, a competition was announced for suggestions of how to decorate the proposed opera house and theater being built at Gelsenkirchen. This was to be a pioneering collaboration between artists and architects. Klein was invited to join Kricke's team, submitting proposals for the interior alongside the other artists.

Around that time, Klein was also offered a one-man show to mark the inauguration of the gallery of Alfred Schmela in Düsseldorf. There, Klein showed a number of his monochromes, as he had done earlier in Milan. In Germany, these pictures sparked a heated debate and garnered much attention. Ruhnau himself acquired one of the pictures from Schmela's show, as did Paul Wember, who would later orchestrate one of Klein's most important retrospectives and assemble the catalogue raisonné that is still the authority on his work (D. Riout, Yves Klein: L'aventure monochrome, Paris, 2006, p. 43). The exhibition increased Klein's standing internationally and--crucially during the period of the joint application to work on the Gelsenkirchen project--in Germany. Some months later, Klein's team had won the Gelsenkirchen commission and began working more extensively with Ruhnau.

Klein's initial proposal was for a pair of murals, but in fact he was commissioned to create six. During 1957, he created maquettes of his first sponge reliefs. Several of these were white, as Klein had still not managed to convince the board overseeing the Gelsenkirchen development of the need to use his blue. However, those early experiments were deemed unsuccessful. It was in October 1958 that Klein returned to Gelsenkirchen to take up the mantle of the commission and truly began to develop the Reliefs éponges, bringing with him Rotraut, the sister of the artist Günther Uecker, whom he had met when she was working as a babysitter at Arman's earlier that year; she worked initially as a translator and assistant, and would later become Klein's wife.

Returning to the sponge relief format in 1958 involved a number of new developments from the first attempts. While originally he had hoped to leave the sponges soft, now he was impregnating them with plastics in order to solidify them, making them more manageable, a technique that is clear in Accord Bleu. He was using techniques developed in Gelsenkirchen and in Paris alongside Jean Tinguely--who through his introduction to Ruhnau was also commissioned to create a mobile for the opera house--and Paolo Vallorz, who had been using plastics to remodel the light-weight chassis of artist Jean-Paul Riopelle's racing car (P. Restany, Yves Klein, New York, 1982, p. 62). It was with the consolidation of these techniques that works such as Accord Bleu were made in the closing months of 1958, paving the way for Klein's creation in Gelsenkirchen of a "blue tapestry woven with sponges" (Y. Klein, quoted in S. Stich, Yves Klein, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1994, p. 114).

Klein's blue realm was designed to invoke "the invisible becoming visible," he explained. It was the color of the deep sky, which Klein himself had claimed as his first readymade artwork. "Blue has no dimensions. It exists outside the dimensions that are part of other colors" (Y. Klein, quoted in O. Berggruen, M. Hollein, I. Pfeiffer, (eds.), Yves Klein, exh. cat., Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 48). His IKB, International Klein Blue, the intense aquamarine, which he would actually patent in 1960 and which he used in many of his monochromes, has an intense, shimmering depth and presence that is made all the more absorbing because of the novel techniques he employed in order to suspend the pigment in resin. For the reliefs that he was designing for Gelsenkirchen, Klein developed a new idea for the monochrome surface that allowed him to add a depth, a variation and a sense of composition to the work: the application of sponges to the surface (other murals in the project had variegated, landscape-like surfaces that prefigured the terrain of his 'planetary reliefs'). This allowed him to create works such as Accord Bleu which, in their poise and balance, with the individual placement of each sponge, recalled the gravel and stones of the Zen gardens of Japan which he had visited some years earlier while studying his beloved Judo there.

Klein had already used the sponges in sculptures that he had created in 1957, as he had initially used them to apply his monochrome colors to the canvases such as the IKB works, before choosing a roller as his implement of choice. "It was also on this occasion that I discovered the sponge," he recounted:

"While working on my paintings in the studio, I sometimes used sponges. Very quickly they obviously became blue! One day I noticed the beauty of the blue in the sponge; in an instant this working instrument became raw material for me. It is the sponge's extraordinary capacity to impregnate itself with anything fluid that attracted me" (Y. Klein, quoted in ibid., p. 90).

For Klein, the use of the sponge encompassed a versatile range of statements, meanings and implications. Taking this natural readymade, this 'living, savage material,' he was embracing the natural world in his work. This was particularly suited to the concept of the blue itself, which Klein believed hovered between realms, creating a portal to the infinite while emerging in our own dimension: "material, physical Blue, offal and dried blood, issue of the raw material of sensibility" (Y. Klein, quoted in N. Root, "Precious Bodily Fluids," pp. 141-145, ibid., p. 142). In Accord Bleu, the individual sponges that comprise the surface and that make such an intriguing, textured otherworldly landscape harness life; at the same time, they serve as microcosms, as Klein had explained, for the saturation of sensibility within the viewer. Indeed, the role of the sponge, and its ability to be 'impregnated' by the Immaterial, had specific resonances for Klein due to his fascination with Rosicrucianism. In the first chapter of Max Heindel's important 1909 work, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, or Mystic Christianity: An Elementary Treatise Upon Man's Past Evolution, Present Constitution and Future Development, the author explained how the various dimensions of existence, ranging from the basest material order to the heights of the divine Immaterial, could exist simultaneously and in the same place by using the sponge as an illustration: the sponge can be saturated by sand and water, the latter itself containing air. This idea of the different interlacing levels of existence in the different planes of existence, with the Immaterial co-existing with our more material dimension, intrigued Klein and fueled much of his work, and it is this that he has captured in the saturated blue in the sponges of Accord Bleu.
n 1958, Yves Klein burst onto the art scene with Le Vide, a work in which he simply emptied a gallery interior and painted it entirely white. Three years earlier, Klein introduced his famous monochrome paintings that were technically nothing more than an ordinary canvas covered in flat, blue paint. How was Klein able to gain international notoriety as a cutting edge artist for work that seemingly required no more skill than that of a competent house painter? In order to answer this, one could analyse the historical precedence or the gallery system at the time, but the central question remains: how was Yves Klein able to persuade the art community to accept his artwork as legitimate and collectable? Though he was unlikely aware of it in a formal sense, Klein had developed the ability to represent his artwork in a way that adhered to a number of marketing principles (later established by psychologists) that determine effective persuasive techniques. Using these techniques, Klein was able to attract people's attention as well as convince them that he knew what he was talking about, that what he was saying was important, and that his artwork was a gateway to understanding his frame of mind. This essay will focus on how Klein implemented four psychological tactics that solidified his standing as one of Modernism's most sought after and valuable artists. These tactics include source credibility and legitimacy, the halo effect, latitude of acceptance, and the elaboration likelihood model. The popularity and financial success of Yves Klein was a direct result of his ability to persuade people using these four techniques.
In May 1961, while he was living in Milan, Piero Manzoni produced ninety cans of Artist's Shit. Each was numbered on the lid 001 to 090. Tate's work is number 004. A label on each can, printed in Italian, English, French and German, identified the contents as '"Artist's Shit", contents 30gr net freshly preserved, produced and tinned in May 1961.' In December 1961 Manzoni wrote in a letter to the artist Ben Vautier: 'I should like all artists to sell their fingerprints, or else stage competitions to see who can draw the longest line or sell their shit in tins. The fingerprint is the only sign of the personality that can be accepted: if collectors want something intimate, really personal to the artist, there's the artist's own shit, that is really his.' (Letter reprinted in Battino and Palazzoli p.144.)
It is not known exactly how many cans of Artist's Shit were sold within Manzoni's lifetime, but a receipt dated 23 August 1962 certifies that Manzoni sold one to Alberto Lùcia for 30 grams of 18-carat gold (reproduced in Battino and Palazzoli p.154). Manzoni's decision to value his excrement on a par with the price of gold made clear reference to the tradition of the artist as alchemist already forged by Marcel Duchamp and Yves Klein among others. As the artist and critic Jon Thompson has written:
Manzoni's critical and metaphorical reification of the artist's body, its processes and products, pointed the way towards an understanding of the persona of the artist and the product of the artist's body as a consumable object. The Merda d'artista, the artist's shit, dried naturally and canned 'with no added preservatives', was the perfect metaphor for the bodied and disembodied nature of artistic labour: the work of art as fully incorporated raw material, and its violent expulsion as commodity. Manzoni understood the creative act as part of the cycle of consumption: as a constant reprocessing, packaging, marketing, consuming, reprocessing, packaging, ad infinitum. (Piero Manzoni, 1998, p.45)
Artist's Shit was made at a time when Manzoni was producing a variety of works involving the fetishisation and commodification of his own body substances. These included marking eggs with his thumbprints before eating them, and selling balloons filled with his own breath (see Tate T07589). Of these works, the cans of Artist's Shit have become the most notorious, in part because of a lingering uncertainty about whether they do indeed contain Manzoni's faeces. At times when Manzoni's reputation has seen the market value of these works increase, such uncertainties have imbued them with an additional level of irony.
From 1951 to 1953, Robert Rauschenberg made a number of artworks that explore the limits and very definition of art. These works recall and effectively extend the notion of the artist as creator of ideas, a concept first broached by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) with his iconic readymades of the early twentieth century. With Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), Rauschenberg set out to discover whether an artwork could be produced entirely through erasure—an act focused on the removal of marks rather than their accumulation.

Rauschenberg first tried erasing his own drawings but ultimately decided that in order for the experiment to succeed he had to begin with an artwork that was undeniably significant in its own right. He approached Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), an artist for whom he had tremendous respect, and asked him for a drawing to erase. Somewhat reluctantly, de Kooning agreed. After Rauschenberg completed the laborious erasure, he and fellow artist Jasper Johns (b. 1930) devised a scheme for labeling, matting, and framing the work, with Johns inscribing the following words below the now-obliterated de Kooning drawing:


The simple, gilded frame and understated inscription are integral parts of the finished artwork, offering the sole indication of the psychologically loaded act central to its creation. Without the inscription, we would have no idea what is in the frame; the piece would be indecipherable.

In 2010 SFMOMA used a range of digital capture and processing technologies to enhance the remaining traces of the original de Kooning drawing. This effort was intended not only to address our instinctive curiosity about what Rauschenberg erased but also to enable us to better understand what he grappled with, literally and figuratively, when he decided to erase the work of an artist he admittedly idolized. Because de Kooning used erasure heavily in his own drawings, it is possible that some traces made visible through this technology were actually erased by him as part of the original drawing, before it entered Rauschenberg's hands. However, the resulting image reveals a field of marks that is far from a finished drawing or even a focused study. Instead we see de Kooning at work, in process, thinking with his pencil and charcoal. Multiple figures fill the sheet, oriented in two directions. The female figure at lower left is likely related to the Woman series, with which de Kooning was deeply involved from 1950 to 1955.

The sight of this approximation of de Kooning's drawing ultimately does not transform our understanding of Rauschenberg's finished artwork. The power of Erased de Kooning Drawing derives from the allure of the unseen and from the enigmatic nature of Rauschenberg's decision to erase a de Kooning. Was it an act of homage, provocation, humor, patricide, destruction, or, as Rauschenberg once suggested, celebration? Erased de Kooning Drawing eludes easy answers, its mysterious beginnings leaving it open to a range of present and future interpretations.
American sculptor, painter, printmaker and film maker. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1952 and from 1955 to 1956 at Black Mountain College, NC, where he was exposed to the modernist aesthetics of the poets Charles Olson (1910-70) and Robert Creeley (b 1926), with whom he formed a lasting friendship. His early welded-iron sculpture was heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and by the sculpture of David Smith. In 1957 he moved to New York where he made his first works out of crushed car parts, such as Shortstop (1957; New York, Dia A. Found.), a practice for which he became immediately recognized and recognizable. During the mid-1960s he continued in this mode, expanding its formal vocabulary to include larger free-standing complexes and wall reliefs, always emphasizing fit and spontaneity. This work earned him instant critical association with the Junk art movement.
In 1966 Chamberlain received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. From 1967 he became interested in film and video, making his most ambitious cinematic project, Wide Point, in 1968. Around this time he returned to his crushed metal idiom after a brief fascination with a combination of stencil and Action painting, for which he used car spray paint. From that moment his materials began to include not only the familiar chassis, but also industrial rubber, plexiglass and polyurethane. Slightly later, near the height of the American fuel crisis, he made frequent use of oil barrels in such works as the Socket and Kiss series (1979; see Sylvester, nos 501-5 and 634-42). In addition to film and painting, Chamberlain produced and exhibited drawings and prints, for example Time Goes By, Purple Disappears (etching and aquatint, 1987; see A. America, lxxv/9, 1987, p. 90). Much discussion surrounding his work has centred upon his sympathy for the objet trouvé and his chance inventions, elements common to the art of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and others. The relationship between his use of cultural waste and the implied violence of his constructions is an issue which harmonizes equally well with his perceived allegiance to modern American painting.
As its title makes unmistakably clear, the performance Der Chef (Fluxus Gesang) (The Chief [Fluxus song], 1964), was another occasion on which Beuys openly addressed the question of authority, here adding a particular twist. The length of the performance was specified to equal the duration of an ordinary workday, and over the course of eight hours from 4 p.m. to midnight he performed the job of embodying authority. He appeared, rolled up in a felt blanket, in one of the exhibition spaces of the Galerie René Block in Berlin. The space could be looked into, but not entered, from the adjoining room. Hidden inside the blanket, Beuys could not be seen, only heard. He had a microphone with him, and at irregular intervals would make inarticulate sounds that were amplified via a PA system. This noise performance was interrupted periodically by a composition by Henning Christiansen and Eric Andersen played from tape. Two dead hares lay at either end of the rolled up felt blanket. Other props from Beuys' repertoire (copper rod, fat corner, fingernails, etc.) were placed all over the room to identify it as a space for ceremonial activities. In the announcement for the event, Beuys stated that Robert Morris would carry out the same performance simultaneously in New York. To my knowledge, it has never been confirmed that this actually happened. The announcement may well have been a joke made at Morris' expense, since Morris' own elegantly sober, analytically self-reflexive use of felt was certainly being undercut here by Beuys, who subjected the same material to a protracted, wearisome, and on the whole not very elegant process.

In accordance with Beuys' own mythology, the performance could certainly be interpreted as an attempt to relive the experience of his healing on the Crimea. Yet this interpretation neither accounts for the title of the action, nor its time limit based on a workday, nor the central role that the PA system plays in the performance. If we take into consideration the historical resonance that the act of "barking into the microphone" had in the action ÖÖ-Programm, it is perhaps not too farfetched to see a parallel in Der Chef: the performance is centered around the experience of loudspeakers giving the guttural voice of an unseen speaker an uncanny physical presence in a room. This experience effectively resembles that of hearing propaganda speeches on the so-called Volksempfänger, the "people's radio," introduced into the German family home by the Nazis, the novelty of which very likely made for a formative media experience for an entire generation. If we assume that the distortion of the speeches by poor radio reception would have been a regular feature of that experience, then the indistinct muffled noises from the PA system (and its irregular interruption by music) would be, phenomenologically speaking, an echo of this experience. The "Chef" is in that sense also the "Führer."

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