Robert Kinmont, 8 Natural Handstands, 1969/2009 (detail)
nine silver gelatin prints
21.5 x 21.5 cm each Photo Joerg Lohse; Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York
Martha Rosler, First Lady (Pat Nixon), 1967-72
photomontage from the series Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful
Courtesy of the artist, Brooklyn, New York and Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery, New York
Eleanor Antin, 100 Boots, 1971-73 (detail)
50 black-and-white postcards, 11.1 x 17.8 cm each
Image courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York
State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 investigates Conceptual art and related avant-garde activities from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. The artists who came to California at this time were, like many other transplants, attracted by its beauty, climate and relative ease of living. More importantly, this part of the US was emerging as a leading incubator for social change and a youth-oriented counterculture, tendencies that were complementary to artists seeking alternatives to traditional modes of art making. California’s art schools, universities and artist-run spaces provided new exhibition opportunities and, additionally, the distance from the New York art press, commercial galleries and museums gave artists greater freedom to experiment as they challenged the definition of art, the role of the artist and the academic and institutional structures of the art world. New York represented tradition, California the future.
Artists working in California at this time deemphasized the art object in favour of the idea and process that went into its making. They explored new noncommercial genres: text-based works, video, sound, performance, installations, mail art and artists’ books. No longer bound by practical considerations of scale, materials, or salability, they turned to collectivity, ephemerality, body-oriented performance, the merging of art and life, political commentary and social interaction which have continued to influence generations of younger artists for more than forty years.
Organized around central themes such as mapping the environment, the street, feminism, and the body, the exhibition features approximately 150 works by 60 artists, ranging from those who became major international figures—Ant Farm, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Lynn Hershman, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler, Ed Ruscha—to lesser-known artists who nonetheless made important contributions and merit renewed attention. The exhibition consists of video, film, photography, installation, artist’s books, drawing, and paintings. Additionally, there is extensive performance documentation and ephemera.
State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 complements the upcoming exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965–1980, an ambitious project that examines similar sensibilities as they developed in Canada. In addition, several of the artists in State of Mind visited Vancouver at the time, mostly at the invitation of Image Bank and the Western Front.
State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970 is an exhibition curated by Constance Lewallen and Karen Moss and co-organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The tour is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and is made possible in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Video Data Bank, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and with the generous support of Robert Redd, LLC and the ICI Board of Trustees.
The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members.
For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at email@example.com,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689