Extra Credit Essay #2, Jordan Dawson: Sam Gathercole – “I’m Sort of Sliding Around in Place… Ummm… Art in the 1970’s February 7th

The 1970’s didn’t really know what they were doing. They saw how much fun the 60’s were having, but they weren’t really in the mood to party anymore. You know, with the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings and all, things were kind of a bummer. The 60’s were radical and progressive and energetic, but that spirit lost its electricity once the State and Market sought to reassert power over the population in the 70’s. Art was lost, not knowing how to progress itself without just unknowingly repeating itself. So much had already been done that even painting had become obsolete. With less of an identity than any previous generation, the 70’s were a dark time in American Art History. Political events shrouded artistic movement, with even the most allegedly conceptual art having faint flavors of VIETNAM. Charles Jenks, and “Architectural Commentator,” once said that July 15th, 1972 at 3:32 PM in St. Louis Missouri was the death of modern architecture. That day, a mass housing scheme was demolished because its own residents were vandalizing it. America was so ashamed of everything it did, that it was pissing all over itself.

            Thus, at some point, somebody had to make some sort of stand. There were artists like Leon Golub, who focused his art upon expressing the stark reality of human society, instead of being reliant upon ideals and themes. This was a massive shift from previous decades wherein ideas were being buried beneath the language of modernist formalism. Once America began to realize that art was not entirely autonomous from politics and society, things really started to change. It was about becoming a part of the whole and participating in political actions, rather than focusing on personalized abstract subject matter, like Jackson Pollock and the Expressionists practiced. Artists were now creating conceptual art that paid no particular attention to the aesthetics of the piece but more to the idea that it represented. Art was becoming objective again, and its audience was quite grateful for the sudden selflessness; they bought back the rights to Art. It was for and about and made of the people again. Photography, film, installation and performance all became essential and real components of the art world. Perhaps even more important was the surge of critically hailed and embraced female artists. Though the world wasn’t sure where it was going in the 70’s, it did know that it was moving, however slow that movement might’ve been.

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