MOCA Jacksonville Backtracks to the 1970s!

June 9, 2012 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In the wake of the artistic innovations of the 1960s, movements and art forms that had seemed groundbreaking or revolutionary played themselves out. Exhausted by the revolutionary changes of the 1960s and disillusioned by the implosion of their Utopian ideals, artists rejected statements as irrelevant and instead concentrated on personal artistic goals. Still others, and much of the art audience at large, took refuge in nostalgia, seeking comfort in images that reflected the 'lost innocence' of a pre-1960s America. Thats the intro to '70s art directly from! Join us after the jump for notes from the current show at MoCA Jacksonville: ReFocus: Art of the 70s. Thirty more years to the present and counting down!

ReFocus: Art of the 1970s
As explored in the previous ReFocus exhibition, the 1960s introduced a plethora of new styles and artists to the pantheon of contemporary art. A multitude of new movements emerged over the course of the decade: from the vibrant, geometric forms of Post-Painterly Abstraction to the irreverent subjects of Pop art; the strict principles of Minimalism to illusion-filled Optical art.
Over the course of the 1970s, the landscape of contemporary art grew even more complex. This was partially a result a further fragmentation of artistic styles and movements—as seen in the 1960s, artistic movements did not emerge chronologically over the course of the decade, but rather in spurts and in unison. This is equally, if not more true of the 1970s. Many of the movements that became prevalent in the 1970s—Photorealism, Performance Art, etc.—emerged at the end of the prior decade. Then, over the course of the 1970s, they spawned distinct, yet interrelated permutations—an ever increasing number of smaller and more specific sub-groups defined by a shared interest in a particular aspect of the larger movement. Systemic Art, for example, grew out of the shared concerns of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, yet cannot be readily situated within the boundaries of either of those two, larger movements. Just as the movements and styles subdivided and merged across the decade, artists flowed freely in and out of associations, their work often spanning multiple groups or not fitting easily within the boundaries of any such descriptions.

Gorgoni Gianfranco "Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, 1976"
Gift of Norman E. Fisher Collection to MOCA Jacksonville Permanent Collection

The notion of art as ephemeral and subject to change was one of the most significant elements that defined the era. Earthworks projects—situated in remote areas and subject to nature’s processes—expanded the boundaries of the art world beyond the walls of galleries and museums. Performance art—by virtue of creating a fleeting, improvisatory interaction between artist and public—also defied the notion of the work of art as decidedly object-based. With these two movements, as well as that of photorealism, the 1970s ushered in a new emphasis on photography—as a tool for documentation and preservation, as well as a coveted model and source of inspiration.

ReFocus: The Art of the 1970s is part of a continuing audit of the history of Contemporary Art starting from the 1960s and running to the present being mounted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.  The current chapter will be running until August 26th of 2012.  For the next few weeks, will be presenting the curatorial notes for the show.

But go see it in person.  Whether or not you know anything at all about 70s contemporary art, or just want to brush up on the highly intellectual underpinnings and the conceptual basis of so much of the period, this show is an excellent sampling.

The Museum of Contemporary Arts Jacksonville
Located on Laura Street in the heart of downtown's Hemming Park district.
333 North Laura Street
Jacksonville, FL, 32202 USA/ (904) 366-6911

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