Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Contact Info: 

Erika Monroe-Kane, Director of Communications
608.257.0158 x 237 or erika@mmoca.org

FAR OUT: ART FROM THE 1960s

MMoCA EXHIBITION SHOWCASES MAJOR MOVEMENTS BORN IN THAT TUMULTUOUS DECADE

May 19–September 2, 2018

Opening Reception June 1 • 5–9 PM

MADISON, WI—The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art opens Far Out: Art from the 1960s in the museum's main galleries on May 19, closing September 2, 2018. Far Out explores works from MMoCA's permanent collection created during the tumultuous decade that introduced such art historical movements as Pop, Op, Minimalism, Fluxus, and Conceptual Art. Works by well-known artists will be on view, including pieces by Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Miriam Schapiro, Andy Warhol, Victor Vasarely, and the Chicago Imagists. The exhibition will feature a 1960s living room furnished by Rewind Decor of Madison and is part of the larger celebration of the Sixties organized by The Madison Reunion taking place in June 2018. The opening reception on June 1 will feature live music by Get Back Wisconsin and guests are encouraged to wear clothes from the 1960s for the event.

The Sixties was a decade of radical experimentation that witnessed an incredible cultural and artistic revolution. The consumer-fueled optimism of the beginning of the decade was quickly dissolved by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, world-wide protests, and nightmarish assassinations—all televised into living rooms across the globe. It wasn’t long before a counterculture formed that rejected the conservativism of the previous generation and embraced inclusivity.

While the turmoil of the decade influenced artists to create political works, they were also in the process of rejecting art historical precedents and developing a counterculture of their own. Seeking to reject the artist-centric view and the emotive and gestural brushstrokes that dominated Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, artists embraced more conceptual and formal explorations.

Building upon the readymade object introduced by Marcel Duchamp—the idea that the artist defines what is art and even a urinal could be submitted for exhibition—Pop artists began incorporating mass-produced and commercial imagery. In the mid-1950s, British artists drew inspiration from American advertising. Allen Jones, for instance, pulled photographic imagery from the seedy back pages of mail order catalogues to blur the line between fine art and commercial art.

Not long after, American artists like Andy Warhol were screen printing replicas of Brillo boxes and redefining what was considered art. In Roy Lichtenstein’s screenprint Haystack #3, Claude Monet’s iconic Impressionist haystacks are rendered in the Benday dots used to photo-mechanically reproduce a printed image in a magazine or a comic book. Lichtenstein challenged what constituted fine art as well as ideas concerning authorship.

Optical art also gained popularity in the Sixties, in which artists used graphic optical illusions that required the active participation of the viewer. After the popular 1965 exhibition The Responsive Eye, heldat the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Op art began to appear on everything from furniture to clothing and was quickly associated with the new mod style of the Sixties.

The prodigious artistic production of the ‘60s, with its varied but often complementary ideologies, challenges any generalization that can be made about the decade as a whole. What remains, however, is the extraordinary innovation and social awareness imbued in these works of art that paved the way for contemporary artists of today.

Generous funding for Far Out has been provided by MillerCoors; The DeAtley Family Foundation; National Guardian Life Insurance Company; Gina and Michael Carter; The Terry Family Foundation; Chuck Bauer and Chuck Beckwith; the Frank family - Larry, Marla, Fred and Holly; Diane Seder and Bruce Rosen; Deirdre Garton, Rewind Decor; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.

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