After war World War II

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Write a detailed outline of chapter 15 attached below.

Decades of Change
The Plural Self in a Global Culture
What is existentialism?
What is Abstract Expressionism, and how did the Beats and Pop Aft challenge its ascendancy?
How did the politics of change challenge the staDJs quo in the 1960s?
How would you define the postmodern?
I f, after World War II, the urban landscape of Europe was
in no small parr desu oyed- from Dresden co London,
whole cicies were fla ccened- che European psyche was
eve n more devascared. Similarly, Japan was h aunced fo r
gen erario ns by che bombing o f Hirosh ima and Nagasa ki.
T he human loss, of course, rook a far greare r emo rion al roll
rhan rhe specre r o f ruin ed buildings. B~~ rhe rime rhe wa r
was ove r, somewh ere in rhe vicin i[‘ o f 17 million soldiers
h ad died, and a r leasr rha r many civilians h ad been caughr
u p in fighring rha r, for rhe firsr rime, direcdy e ngaged
u n armed civilia n po pula rions. Hider h ad exre rmin ared
6 million Jews, and millions of or her people had died of dis·
ease, h unger, and o rher causes. T he fin al roll approach ed
40 million dead.
A merica reacred wirh mixed feelings. 1r was, afre r all,
vicro rious, and celebrare ir did, in n o small parr wirh o n e
o f rhe grea resr econ omic booms in h isro ry. Bur rhe pro~
found pessimism rhar ch aracre rired Euro pean and Japan ese
respo nse ro rhe wa r found its expressio n a r h ome as well,
in rhe work, for insrance, o f Mark Ro rhko ( 1903- 70).
who had begun painring in rhe early 1940s by placing
a rch erypal figures in from o f la rge mon ochroma cic bands
o f h a.ty, se i~ nr colo r. By che early 1950s, h e
h ad elimin ared che figures, leaving o nly che backg round
color field.
T h e scale o f rhese colo ield painrings is inrencion ally
large. Green on Blue, for insrnnce, is over 7 feer rnll (Fig. 15.1 ).
“The reason I pai1H la ~ picrures),” he srnted in 1951,
is precisely because I want to be very intimate and huma n.
To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your
e xperience, to look upon a n experience as a stereoptico n
view or reduc ing glass. However you paint the larger pic·
ture, you are in it. It isn’t something you com1na1xl.
Viewers find rhemselves en veloped in Rorhko ‘s somerimes
exu emely sombe r color fields. T h ese expanses o f colo r
become, in rhis sense, srage sets fo r rhe h uman d rama rhar
u anspires before rhem. As Rorhko funher explains:
I a m in te rested o nly in e xpressing the basic hu 1nan
e mo tions-tragedy, ecstaS)’• doom, a nd so on-and the
fact that lots of people break down a nd cry when confronted
with my pictures shows that I communicate with
thocse basic hlllnan emotions. The people who weep before
my pictures a re having the same religious e xt::erience I hoc!
when I painted them.
T h e emo rion al roll o f such pai nring fin ally cosr Rorhko
h is life. H is visio n became da rke r and darke r rhroug ~
our rhe 1960s, and in 1970, h e commi u ed s uicide i n
h is S[Udio.
<1 Fig. 15.1 Mark Rothko 11903- 1971)), Gr .. n on 8/ueiEarth·Green and White). 1956. Oil on
canvas, 911’ X 64~ inches, Collection of The lklNersity of Arizona Musel.lll of Art & Archive of Visual
Ans. Tucson. Gift of Edward J. Gall~”‘· Jr. kc. No. 1964.001 001. Art© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel &
Christqiler Rothko/Artists Ri!tlts Society (ARSI. New Yak. The religious sensibility of Rotlo’s painting
brou~u him, in 1964, a oorrmissioo f01 a set of murals for a CathoiC chapel in Houston, Texas.
{t•–Kisten to the chapter audio on
Bur nor all was gloom and doom. Jn America, rhe 1950s
were also years of unprecedenred prosperiry, a facr reflecred
in rhe proliferarion of new goods and produc li ~
ally hundreds of rhe kinds of rhings rhar Duane Hanson’s
Supermarker Shopper has loaded imo her shopping carr in his
hyperrealisric sculpture of 1970 (Fig. 15.2): CorningWare,
Sugar Pops, and Kraft Minute Rice (1950); sugarless che”;ng
gum and rhe firsr 33~rpm lo g~ layi g records, incroduced
by Deutsche Grammo phon (195 1 ); Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted
Rakes, rhe Sony pocker~sired cransisror radio, fiberglass, and
nylon {1952); Sugar S macks cereal and Schweppes bmded
ronk warer {1953); Cresr roorhpasre and roll-on deodoranr
(1955); Comer cleanser, Raid insecricide, Imperial ga~
rine, and Midas mufflers ( 1956); the Wham.O my company’s
Frisbee {1957) and Hula Hoop {1958); Sweet’n Low sugar
subsricure, G reen Gia nc canned beans, and Teflon frying
pans { 1958). Tupperware, whic h had been iruroduced in
1945, could be found in every kirchen afrer irs push-down
seal was patemed in J9 49.ln)uly 1955, Walt DiS11eyopened
Disneyla nd in Ana heim, California, che firsr la ge~scale
cheme park in America. T har same year, cwo of che firsr fusr~
food chains o pened cheir doors- Colonel Sanders’s Ken~
mcky Fried C hicken (KFC) and McDonald’s. In 1953, the
firsr issue of Pla-,lxry magazine appeared, feacuring Marilyn
Monroe as its firsr nude ceruerfold, and by 1956, irs c cu~
lmion had reached 600,000. Sales of household appliances
exploded, and women, illla ~ly relegared ro che domes[iC
scene, suddenly found chemselves wirh leisure [ime. Diner’s
Club and A merkan Express incroduced cheir charge cards in
195 1 and 1958 respectively. BO<h cards required paymem in
fUll each monch, bu[ chey paved rhe way fOr Bank Americard,
iruroduced in 1959 {evencualty evolving in[O che Visa card),
which allowed for individual bo rrowing-and purchasingar
an unprecederued level.
Television played a key role in markering chese products
and services since adver[isers underwrore eruerrnirunenr and
news programming by buying cime slors for commercials. Jn
celevision commercials, people could see products firsrhand.
Alrhough celevision programming had been broadcas[ befure
World War JJ, ir was suspended during che war and did no r
resume uruil 1948. B~~ 1950, four nerworks were broadcas[ing
ro 3. 1 million celevision sets. B~~ che end of rhe decade, d uu
number had swelled co 67 million. Even rhe food induscry
respo nded ro che medium. Swanson, which had iruroduced
frozen po r pies in 1951, began selling compk: ce frmen “TV
dinners” in 1953. T he firsr, in i[s sealed aluminum cray, fea~
cured curkey, cornbread d ressing and gravy, buuered peas,
and swee c po[aroes. Jc cosr 98 cents, and Swanson sold 10
million units d uu year. Consumer culrure was ac full chrocde.
S[ill, Rochko’s pessimism was noc wid1our jusrifica[ion.
Againsr chis backdro p of prospericy and pk ruy- which could,
alrerna[ety, be viewed as consumerism run amok- more crou~
bling events we re occurring. A f[er che wa r, che cerrirories
concrolkd 1 che Nazis had been pan irioned, and che Sovi~
ets had gained concrol of Easrern Euro pe, which chey co ~
cinued co occupy. Berlin, fully enclosed 1 Sovie ~co rurolled
470 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
Fi g. 15.2 Supermarket Shopper.1910 (polyester resin figure and various
media), Hanson, Duane 1192S-96). ludwig Collection, Aachen, Gemlany I
~ DACS I The Bridgeman An library ernati ooaV~ EstateoiiJuane Hanson/
licensed t1f VM3A, NewYO<Ic, NY. Hanson’s sculpttres are so lifelike that
museun vis~Ofs often speak to them.
Easr Germany, was a divided cicy, and ir quickly became a
focal poim of [ension when che Sovie[S blockaded land and
river access co rhe cicy in 19 48. Presideru Truman respo nded
by airlif[ing virn I supplies co che 2 million ci[itens of Wesr
Berlin, bur che crisis would cominue, culmina[ing in che
construction of the Berlin Wall in 196 I.
Evems in Asia were equally rroubling. Jn C hina, che co ~
munisrs, led by Mao Zedong [mauw {rhymes wirh “cow”)
dw-doong) ( 1893- 1976). d rove the pro-Western national·
im, led by C hiang Kaishek [kigh-she k) ( 1887- 1975). off
rhe mainland co che island of Thiwan and es[ablished rhe
pro-Soviet People’s Republic of C hina o n Octo ber I, 19 49.
Ko rea was likewise pan irioned inro a U.S.~backed sourhern
secro r and a Sovie ac ed no nhern secror, culminacing in
che 1950 in vas ion of che Sourh by che Nonh and che Korean
War {1950- 53). which involved American and Chinese sol·
diers, che laccer suppo r[ed by Russian advisors and pilots, in
anocher mili[ary conflicr. .As che [ension bee ween che Sovier
Bloc and the Wesr escalated throughout the 195(1;, nuclear
conffoma[ion seemed inevirnble.
A n ists and wrirers respo nded by crea [ing a rebellious,
individualisric an. Jn rhe 1960s, a g rowing dissarisfacrion
wid1 rhe sra[US quo inspired a sense of righreous dig a~
rion duu manifesred irself no r only in rhe anci- Viemam War
movemenr bur also in rhe civil righrs movemenr, rhe bur ~
geoning feminisr movemenr, and rhe a[lnosphere of yourh ~
ful rebellion embodied in rhe rise of oc ~a d~ oll music and
rhe accompanying use of psychedelic d rugs by musicians and
audiences alike. Jn rhis world, rhe very possibiliry of rriv~
ing ar definirive answers ro rhe pressing pro blems of rhe day
seemed mo re and mo re unlikely. Everyrhingseemed open ro
inrerpreracion., and “meaning” irself became concingem and
o pen ended. By rhe rurn of rhe cemury, rhe inc reasing glo~
balizacion of rhe world’s culwres rhrearened rhe inregriry of
indigenous culrures, bur even more complex quesrions began
ro emerge. Arrisrs in rhe world’s culrures have found rh ~
selves in a double bind- how, rhey ask, can rhey remain rrue
ro rheir nacive or e rhnic idemiries and scill parcicipare in rhe
la rger world rk ~ Whar happens ro rheir work when ir
enrers a conrexr where ir is received wirh lirde o r no under~
srnnding of irs igi s~ How, indeed, does rhe global rhrearen
rhe loca H J n rhe world of globa I media- morion pic[Ures,
relevision channels such as CNN, and Jnrerner searc h
engines like Google-is rhe very idea of rhe “self’ rhrearened
by rechnology and rechnological nnova io ~
T he Holocausr and rhe devasracion ar Hiroshima and Naga~
saki dramacically increased rhe profound pessimism duu had
gripped inrellecwal Europeans ever since rhe curn of rhe ce ~
[Ury. How could an yone prerend rhar rhe h uma n race was
governed by reason, duu advances in rechnology and science
were for rhe grearer good, when h uman beings were no r only
capable of genocide, bur also possessed rhe abilicy ro nn i~
lare rh selves~
The Philosophy of Sartre: Existentialism
During and afrer World War II, rhe French philosophe r
Jea n-Paul Sam e { 1905-SO) argued for wha r he rermed
existentialism. “Exisre nce precedes esse nce” was &Here’s
bask premise; duu is, humans musr define rheir own essence
(who rhey a re) rhrough rheir exisrenrial being ( whar rhey
do, rheir acrs). “J n a word,” Sanre explained, “man musr
c reare his own essence; ir is in rhrowing himself inro rhe
world, in suffering ir, in srruggling wirh ir, rhar- lirde by
lie de- he defines himself.” Life is defined neirher by su ~
conscious drives, as Freud had held, no r by socioeconomic
circumsrances, as Marx had argued: “Man is no rhing else
bur wha r he makes of himself. Suc h is rhe firsr principle of
For Sanre rhere is no mea ning ro exisre nee, no e re rnal
crurh for us ro discover. T he o nly ce rraim y is dear h. Sa rcre ‘s
major philosophical work, rhe 1943 Being and Norhingness,
oudines rhe nacure of rhis condirion, bur his argumenr is
more accessible in his play Huis Clos [lwee kloh) {No Exit).
As rhe play o pens, a valer greers Monsieur Ga rcin ga hr~
SEN] as he enre rs rhe room rhar will be his e re rnal hell
{Reading 15.1 ):
from Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit (1944)
GMCIN: (enters. accompanied by the VALET. and glanoes
around him):
So here we are?
VALET: Yes, Mr. Garcin.
GMCIN: And this is what it looks like?
GMCIN: Second Empire furniture, I observe … Well, well,
I dare say one gets used to it in time.
VALET: Some do, some don’t.
GMCIN: Are all the rooms like this one?
VALET: How could they be? We cater for all sorts:
Chinamen and Indians, for instanoe. What use would
they have for a Second Empire chair?
GMCIN: And what use do you suppose I have for one?
Do you know who I was? … Oh, well, it’s no great matter.
And, to tell the truth, I had quite a habit of living among
fumiture that I didn’t relish, and in false positions. I’d e-ven
oome to like it. A false position in a Louis·Philippe dining
room-you know the style?-well, that had its points, you
know. Bogus in bogus, so to speak.
VALET: And you’ll find that living in a Second Empire
drawing-room has its points.
GMCIN: Really? … Yes, yes, I dare say … Still I certainly
didn’t expect- this! You know what they tell us down
VALET: What about?
GMCIN: About … this-er- residenoe.
VALET: Really, sir, how could you belie-ve such cock ..andbull
stories? Told by people who’d never set foot here.
For, of course, if they hadGMCIN:
Quite so. But I say, where are the instruments of
VALET: The what?
GMCIN: The racks and red-hot pincers and all the other
VALET: Ah, you must have your little joke, sir.
GMCIN: My little joke? Oh, I see. No , I wasn’t joking. No
mirrors. I notice. No windows. Only to be expected. And
nothing breakable. But damn n all, they might have leh
me my toothbrush!
VALET: That’s good! So you haven’t yet got aver yourwhatodo·you-calloit?-
senseof human dignity? Excuse my
T he play was firsr pe rfOrmed in May 19 44, jll’lr befOre rhe
Iibera cion of Paris. Jf exisrence in exisrenrial re rms is rhe
power ro e re are o ne’s fucure, Garcin and rhe cwo women
who will soon occupy rhe room wirh him are in hell precisely
because rhey a re powerless ro do so. Ga rcin’s “bad fairh”
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 471
consisrs of his insisrence rhar his self is rhe cremion of or hers.
His sense of himself derives from how o rhers perceive him.
T hus, in rhe mosr famous line of rhe play, he says, “l’enfer,
c’esr les atares” [le hn~fai , say layz~o lur “Hell is orher peo~
pie.” Jn rhe drawing room, rhere need be no rorrurer because
each characrer rorwres rhe orher rwo.
The Theater of the Absurd
Sarue’s No Exir was rhe firsr example of wha r in rhe 1960s
became known as rhe Theater of the Absurd, a d1earer in
which rhe meaninglessness of exisrence is rhe cenual rhe~
tnaric concern. Sarue’s own No Exir was rhe firsr example,
bur tnany o r her plays of a similar characrer followed, aurhored
by Samuel Beckeu { 1906-89). an Irishman who lived in
Paris rhroughour rhe 1950si rhe Romanian Euge ne Jonesco
[ee-<Jh-ness-KOH] ( 1909-94); che Frenchman Jea n Genec;
che Englishman Harold Pince r ( 1930- 2008); che American
Edward Albee { 1928- ); and che Czech-bo rn Englishman
Tom Scoppard ( 1937- ). All of chese iO)~v ig !S share a commo
n exisremial sense of rhe absurd plus, iro nically, a sense
rhar language is a barrier ro communicarion, rhar speech is
almosr furile, and rhar we are condemned ro isolarion and
T he mosr po pular of rhe absurdisr plays is Samuel
Becke cc’s 17airing fcrr Godot [goh-DOH], firsc pe rfo rmed in
French in 1953 and subcided A Tragicomed1 nt Two Ac«. T he
play inrroduced audiences ro a new ser of srage convemions,
from irs essemially barren ser (only a leafless rree decorares
rhe srnge), ro irs cwo downlike charac rers, Vladimir and
Escragon, whose language is incapable of affecring o r even
coming ro grips wirh cheir si[Umion. T he play demands chac
its audie nce, like irs cemral characcers, cry co make sense
of an incomprehensible world in which noching occurs. Jn
fucc, che play’s firsc line announces, as Escragon cries wichouc
success ro remove his booc, “Noching co be done.” Jn Ace J,
Vladimir and Es[ragon awair che arrival of a person referred
co as Godoc{Reading 15.2a):
from Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot Act I
VLADIMIR: What do we do OCJW?
T ha[ is exacdy whac che audience mus[ do as wellwaiL
Vee noching happe ns. Godo c does noc arrive. Jn
despair, Vladimir and Es[ragon concemplace ha nging ch ~
selves buc are unable co. T hen chey decide ro leave bU[
do no[ move. Ac e JJ rakes place che nex c day. BU[ ch~
ing changes-Vladimir and Esu agon again wai[ for Godo[,
who does noc arrive, and again concemplace suicide. T here
is no developmem, no change of circumsrance, no crisis, no
472 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
resolurion. T he play’s conclusion, which repea[S [he fU[ile
decision ro move o n [ha[ ended Ac[ J, demonsuares chis
{Reading 15.2b):
REA DING 15. 2b
from Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot Act II
VlADIMIR: ’11.ell? Shall we go?
ESTRAGON: Yes,let’sgo.
(They do not move.)
T he promise of ac[ion and che realizmion of none-d uu is
che 1l1eacer of che Absurd.
A fre r [he War, che U.S. S [are Oepanmenc spo nso red
mammo[h exhibi[ions of painrings and sculpwre by co ~
[e mpo ra ry American arris[S cha [ coured Euro pe- focused
o n Paris, especially- in order ro demonsuare [he spiri[ of
freedom and innova rion in American arr (and, by ex ~
sion, American culwre as a whole). T he individualis[iC
spiri[ of [hese arrisrs, whose work was branded Abstract
Expressionis m, was see n as che ve ry anci[hesis commu~
nism, and cheir work was meam co convey che message cha[
A me rica had no[ o nly criumphed in che war, bur in arr and
c ulwre as well. New York, no [ Pa ris, was now che ce me r
o f [he arr world. T hese arris[S included immigranrs like
Mark Rochko {see Fig. 15. 1 ), Arshile Gorky [GOR-kee)
( 1904-48), Ha ns Hoffmann (1880- 1966), Milcon Resnick
( 19 17- 2004), and Willem de Kooning [KOO-ning) (1 904-
97), as well as slighdy younger ica rn arrisrs like
Franz Kline ( 19 10-62) and Jac kson Pollock ( 19 12- 56).
All freely acknowledged [heir debcs ro Cubism’s assaul[ o n
[radirional represenrarion, Ge rman expressionism’s [urn
inward from [he world, Kandinsky’s ea ornl abS[t’aC[ion,
and Surreal ism’s e mp l1asis o n chance o perarions and psy ~
c hic auroma[ism. Toge[her che Abs[rac[ Expressionists saw
[hemselves as sranding a[ [he edge of che unknown, ready
ro define chemselves [hrough a Sa ruian su uggle wi[h [he
blank ca nvas, chrough che physical ac [ of applying pailu
and che energy cha[ eac h painced ges[U re reveals. T heir
work demonsu a red, che Sra ce De panmenc believed, che
spiri[ of freedom and innovmion in American an (a nd, by
exrension, American culmre as a whole). T he dividual~
is[iC spiri[ of chese a n isrs was seen as che very anci[hesis
of communism, and cheir exhibirions across Euro pe- and
in Paris, especially- were designed ro convey che message
chac America l1ad noc o nly criumphed in che war, buc in
a rr and culwre as well. New York, no[ Paris, was now che
cemer of [he an world.
Fig. 15.3 Jackson Pollocl<. 1912-1956, Number Zl. 1950. Oil, enamel, and ah.mrun paint one””””· 0erall (Canvas!:
49 x Ire in. (124.5 x 2S9.2cmi.’Mlitney Muset.m ol AmeiicanAn. NewYort. An ©2011 The Pollodc·Kramei fotrldation/
Anists Ri!t>ts Society (ARSI. NewYort. The year Numbot 2lwas painted, Lilomagalinerana lor9. profusely illustrated stcxy
on Pollock asking, Is he the greatest living painter n theUn~ed States?~ h stimulated anastonishi’lg 5321eneis to the editOf,
most of them atiS\e!ing he~ ioo with a defi n~ Ne o!~
Action Painting: Pollock and de Kooning
Jn 1956, Willem de Kooning commenced cha c “every
so o fcen, a paincer h as co descroy paincing. Cezanne
did ir. Picasso did ir “”h Cubism. T h en Pollock did ir.
He busced our idea o f a pic[Ure all ro hell. 1l1en chere
could be new paincings again.” Around 1940, Pollock
underwenc psychoanalysis in order co explore Sur realise
psychic aurommism and ro reveal, on canvas, che dee ~
esc areas of che unconscious. 1l1is depiccion of a men cal
landscape would soon develop in co la ~~scale “action
painting/’ as described by che c rick Harold Rosenberg
in 19 42 (Fig. 15.3). T he canvas h ad become, he said,
“an arena in which co ace.” Jc was n o longer “a pic[Ure
buc an even c.” Pollock \Uuld drip, pour, and splash oil
paine, h ouse and boac paine, and en amel over che ur~
face o f che can vas, de cermining che co p and bo ccom
o f che piece o n ly afce r che process was complece. T he
resulc was a galaccic sense of space, wha c Rosenbe rg
called “all-over” space, in wh ich che viewer can almosc
crace Pollock’s rhychmic geswral dan ce around che
palm ing’s pe rime cer.
De Koon i ng was 12 years Polloc k’s se n ior and
h ad begun in rhe la re 1930s and early 19 40s in a
more figuracive vein. De Kooning’s picco rial space is
composed o f sh apes and forms rach er chan che woven li ~
ear skein o f Polloc k’s composicion.s. Buc by 1950, in paine~
ings like Excavarion (Fig. 15.4). rhe surface o f de Koon ing’s
paincings seemed densely packed wich free~ftoa g, vaguely
an aco mical pares sec in a la ndsca pe o f c rumpled re fuse,
[l3{Read lhe document from Jackson Pollock on
Fig. 15.4 Will em de Kooni ng, American, born Netherlands. 1904-1997,
ExcavatiDil 1950. Oil on canvas, 2a5.7 X 254.6cm (81 X 1001′ in.l.
ooframed, Mr. and Mts. frank G. toganPurchasePtizefund; restricted gifts of
Edgar J. Kaufmann. Jr .. and Mr. and Mrs. Noah Goldowsl.y, Jr .. 1952.1, The An
Institute ol Chicago. Photogra,kly ©The An nstituteol Chicago. An© 2011
The Willem de Kooning Fooodation/Artists Ri!t>ts Society (ARSI. NewYort. This
is one of de KooningS largest painti’lgs. ~My painti’lgs are too complica ed,~ he
explained. I <bl’t use the large.sizecanvas because ·s too diffi cult fat me to
get out of it.~
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 473
ea rrhmoving equipmenc, concre ce blocks, and )~beams.
None of chese elemencs is de finicively visible, jusc merely
suggesced. Excavadon is a complex o rgan i:zacion o f o pe n and
closed ea ~colo ed forms chac lead from on e co che od1er,
cheir black oudi nes overlapp ing, mergi ng, disapp ea ring
across che surface. S mall areas o f brigh dy colored brush work
ince rrupc che surfuce.
Wh en., in 1951, Excavadon was feacured in an exh ibicion
of absmlcc paincing and sculpcure ac che Museum o f Modern
Arc in New York, de Kooning k:cwred on che subjecc “Wh ac
Abscracc Arr Means co Me.” His descripcion o f his elario ~
sh ip co his e n viro nmenr is a fair explana rion of wha r we see
in rhe paiming: ”Everyrhing d uu passes me J can see o nly a
lirde of, bur l’m always looking. A nd J see an awful lor so e~
cimes.” De Kooning’s absrraccion differs If om Pollock’s largely
in chis. As o pposed co plumbing che depchs of che psyche, he
represenrs che ~): s e ncouncer wirh che world. De Kooning’s
primary concern is che relarionship of rhe individual ro his o r
her e nviro nmenr. T he rension be[ween [he [\U is [he focus o f
his works.
Women Abstract Expressionists
Alrhough excluded fro m [he inner circle, a number o f rhe
women associared wi[h absrracr expression ism were pain[ers
of exceprional abiliry. Elain e de Kooning {19 18- 1989), who
married Willem in 19 43, was known for he r h ighly sexual~
ized po rrrairs o f me n. Lee Krasner [KRAZ-ner) ( 1908-84).
who married Jackson Polloc k in 19 45, developed h er own
discin ccive all-over S[yle o f rhickly applied pain[ consiscing
o f calligra phic lines. Inspired by de Kooning, Joa n Mirch ell
{ 1926- 92) began pain ring in New York in rhe early 195(1;, bur
afrer 1955, she divided h er cime be rween Paris and New York,
moving co Paris on a more permanenr basis in 1959, Ten years
larer, sh e moved down [he Seine co ve[heuil [ vay~TOY], liv~
ing in rhe h ouse rhar Moner h ad occupied fro m 1878 ro 1881.
Al[h ough sh e den ied rhe influen ce o f Moner, he r painrings
possess some[hing of rhe scale o f Mon er’s ware r lily pain[ings,
and he r brush work realizes in large parr wh ar Moner re ndered
in derail. Like Moner, she was obsessed wi[h warer, specifically
Lake Mich igan , wh ich as a c hild she had consran dy viewed
fro m he r family’s Ch icago apanmen[, “J painr fro m ~
be red landscapes duu J carry wi[h me–and remembe red eel~
ings of [hem, which o f course become rransformed.” As occurs
in mosr o f h er works, [he unpainred whire ground o f Piano
mecanique rakes o n [he c ha racrer o f aunosphere o r warer, an
almosr couch able and semirra nspare nr space duu reflecrs [he
inciden ts of wea[her, rime, and ligh[ (Fig. 15.5 ),
Jn 1952, direcdy inspired by Polloc k’s d rip p ainxings,
24-year-<lld Helen Fra nke mhaler ( 1928 – ) dilured painr
almosr co rhe consisre ncy o f warercolor and began pouring ir
O IUO unprimed core on can vas co ach ieve gian[ srains o f color
Fig. 155 Joan Mitchell, Piano mOcaniqoo. 1958. Oil on catll<aS, 78″ X 128″. Gift of Addie and Sidney Yates. mage
«>2009 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of An. Washi’lgton, D.C. Samuel Becken \6S one of Mitchell’s closest friends after
die moved to Paris il 1959.
474 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
chac suggesc landscape (Fig. 15.6). T he risk she assumed in
concrolling h er flooding hues, and che mo numen calicy o f h er
composicions, immediacely inspired a large n umber of odter
ucists. More o rganic and free~flowi g cha n che colo ield
paincings o f Mark Rochko {see Fig. 15. 1). chey nevercheless
have much in common wich Rochko’s work. Boch evoke che
la ndscape-Rod1ko che horizon, and Franke nchaler so e~
ching akin ro an aerial phorograph o f d1e earch.
The Beat Generation
From a cerrnin poinc of view, Absm1cc Expressionism seemed
sel ~i dulgenc , curning inward co che de pchs of che self co
che exclusion of che world, and a group of American poets,
wrice rs, and arriscs whom we have come ro call “Beacs” o r
” hipscers” soon c hallenged ics ascendancy. Bear was origi~
nally a slang cenn mea ning “down and ouc,” or “poor and
exhausred,” bur ir came ro designa re rhe purposefully dise ~
franchised arrisrs of rhe American 1950s who curned cheir
backs o n wha c chey saw as che duplicicy of cheir counuy’s
values. T he Beat generation soughc a heighrened and, chey
believed, mo re amhencic scyle of life, defined by alienmion.,
nonconformicy, sexual libera[ion, drugs, and akohol.
Fig. 15.6 Helen Frankenthaler,
Tile Bay. 1963. Acrylic on canvas,
205.1 x 207.7 ans, Detro~ Institute
of Ans, USA~ DACS/foooders
Society Pt.rdlase, Dr & Mrs Hilben
H. Delawter Ftnl,ll’he Bridgeman Art
library ntematiooal. Art~ 2011 Helen
Ftankenthale</Artists Ri!t>ts Society
V’.RSI. NewYod:. This is one of the first
painli’9S in 111 dl Ftanb!nthale< used
acrylic rathel than oil paint, resulting ina
much stabler sulfaoe.
Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac T h e Beacs’ mace rial lay all
around chem in che world, as chey soughc co expose che ~
sions d uu lay under che presumed well~ ei gof cheir sociecy.
O ne of cheir concempora ry heroes was che Swiss ph og a~
pher Roberc Frank { 1924- ), wh o wich che aid o f a Guggenheim
fellowship had craveled across America for cwo years,
publish ing 83 o f che resulcing 2,800 pho cogra phs as Tile
Americam in 1958. T he book oucraged a public U’led co phocographic
compilacions like che 1955 exh ibicion Tile Family
of Man, which d rew 3,000 visirors daily roche Museum of
Modern Arr in celebrarion of irs message of universal ho pe
and unicy. Frank’s phorographs offered someching differenc.
T hey cap cure everyday, mundane chings chac mighc ocherwise
go by unseen, wirh a sense of sponcaneicy and direcmess chac
was admired, especially, by wrire r Jack Ke rouac ( 19 22-69),
who had chro nicled his own odysseys across America in che
1957 On rile Rood.
On rile Road describes Ke rouac’s eal~li e advemures wich
h is friend Neal Cassady {1926-68), wh o a ppears in wha c
Ke rouac called his “crue~srOI)’ novel” as Dean Moriarry.
Cassady advocaced a brand of wricing chac amoumed ro, as
he puc ic in a leccer ro Ke rouac, “a cominuous chain of dis~
ciplined choughc.” Jn face, Ke rouac wrore che novel in abouc
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 475
chree weeks o n a single, long scroll o f paper, improvising, he
felc, like a jatt musician, o nly wich words and namuive. Buc
like a jatt musician, Kerouac was a skilled c rafcsman, and
if che novel seems a spo ncaneous OU[bursc, ic nevercheless
refleccs che same careful aHencion co crafc reftecced in Robe rc
Frank’s The Americans. Frank, afcer all, had caken over 2,800
pho rographs, bur he had published o nly 83 o f rhe m. O ne
senses, in reading Kerouac’s rambling advenwre, someching
of che same edicorial concrol.
Ginsberg and “Howl” T he work rhar besr characrerites rhe
Beac gene ra[ion is”Howl,” a poem by Allen Ginsbe rg ( 1926-
97). T his lengchy poem in chree parts and a foocnO[e has a
memorable opening {Reading 15.3 ):
from Allen Ginsberg, ” Howl” (1956)
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of
who paveny and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up
smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats
floating across the tops of cities oontemplating jazz
who bared their brains to Heaven under the Eland saw
Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake·light tragedy among
the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning
their money in wastebaskets and listening to the
Terror through the wall .
Ginsbe rg’s spiric o f inclusiveness admiHed inco a rc noc
only drugs and alcohol buc also graphic sexual language, co
say noching o f his frank homosexuali[y. Soon af[e r “Howl”
was published in 1956 by Lawrence Ferlinghe[[i’s Ci[y Ligh ts
books[o re in Sa n Fra ncisco, fede ral au dtori[ies c ha rged
Ferling he cci wi ch o bsceni[y. He was even[Ually acqui[ced.
Wha[ever che public choughc o f i[, che poem’s powe r was
ha rdly losr o n rhe o rher Bears. T he poer Mic hael McClure
(1 932-) was presenc che nighc Ginsbe rg firs[ read i[ ac San
Francisco’s Six Gallery in 1955:
Alle n began in a s ma ll a nd intensely lucid voice. At
some point Jack Kerouac began s houting “GO” inca·
dence a:s A llen read it. In all of o ur me mo ries no o ne had
been so o utspoke n in poetry before-we had gone be·
yond a point of no return-and we were ready for it, for
476 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
a point of no ren1n’l. N one o f us wanted to go back to the
g ray, c hill, militaristic silence, to the intellective voidto
the land without poetry-to the spiritua l d rabness.
Ve wanted to make it new and we wanted to invent it
a nd the process of it as we went into it. We wanted voice
a nd we wanted vision.
Ginsberg rea::! o n to the e nd o f the poem, which left
us star.::ling in wo nder, or c heering and wo ndering, but
knowing at the deepest level that a barrier hoc! been bro·
ke n, that a huma n voicea1-.::l body hoc! been hurled against
the harsh wall of America and its supporting armiesa1-.::l
navies a 1-.::l academiesa1-.::l institutio ns a •…::! OWl’lt” r:shipS)’S·
tems and power-support bases.
Here, in fuc[, in che id~ 950i we re che firs[ expressions
o f che furces o f rebellion chac would sweep che Uni[ed S[a[es
and che world in che following decade.
Cage and the Aesthetics of Chance
Ginsbe rg showed d ac an ydting and eve rydting could be
admiHed inco dte domain o f an. T his nO[ion also info rms
rhe music o f composer Jo hn Cage { 19 12 – 92). who by
dte id~ 1950s was pro posing cha[ i[ was [ime m “give up
dte desire [ 0 co nuol sound … and se[ aboU[ discove ~
ing means [ 0 le e sounds be chemselves.” Cage ‘s nO[o rious
4’33” (4 minwes 33 seconds) is a case in poinc. Firs[ ~
fo rmed in Woods[ock, New York, by pian is[ David Tudor
o n Augus[ 29, 1952, i[ consists o f [hree silen[ movemencs,
each o f a differenc lengdt, bU[ when added mged1e r al~
ing four minU[eS and 33 seconds. T he composi[ion was
an ydting bU[ silen[, howeve r, admi[[ing huo che space
framed by i[S dur a[ion all manne r o f ambie tu sound –
whispe rs, coughs, passing cars, dte wind. Wl1a[ever sounds
happened during i[S pe rfo rmance we re purely a ma c[e r o f
c ha nce, never predicca ble. Like Frank’s, Cage’s is an a r[ o f
T ha[ summer, Cage o rganized a mul[imedia eve n[ a[
Black Moun[ain College near Asheville, Nord1 Carolina,
whe re he occasionally cauglu. O ne o hhe par[icipancs was
2 7·year·old a rrisr Robe rr Rausc henbe rg [RAUW·shenbe
rg) (1925- 2008). By rhe mid- 1950s, Rauschenbe rg had
begun co make wha[ he called combi ne paintings, works
in which all manner o f ma ce rials- pos[ca rds, adve ise~
men ts, cin cans, pinups-are combined co c rea[e che work.
JfRauschenbe rg ‘s work does no[ li[erally depend upon na[~
[e rs o f chance in i[s con.s[rucdon, i[ does incorpora[e such
a diverse range o f ial chac i[ c reaces che aura o f pre~
sencing Rausc henbe rg’s chance encouncers wid1 che world
a round him. A nd i[ does, above all, reflec[ Cage’s sense of
all~i clusive ess. Bed li[erally consiS[S o f a sheec, pillow, and
quil[ raised co che ve r[ical and chen d ripped no[ o nly wid1
paine bU[ also wid1 mod1pas[e and fingernail polish in wha[
amou ncs co a parody o f Absuac[ Expression is[ ncros ec~
[ion (Fig. 15. 7). Even as i[ juxcaposes highbrow ~ making
wid1 che vernacular quil[, abs[rac[ion wid1 realism, Bed is a
wryly pe rce p[ive cransformacion o f che d ream space evoked
by Surrealism.
Fig. 15.7 Robert Rauschenberg, Bed. 1955. 6′ 3~. X 31 W X 8″, Cornbne
pai’lting: oil and pencil on pillow, ~ih and meet on wood supports. Digital
lmage<D The Musetrn of ModemArtAicensed by fl:.AlNAn ROSO<>’ce, NY.
An <D Estate of Roben Rau&tlenbergllicensed by VAGA, NewYO<Ir, NY. The
maruess, pillow, quilt, and sheets are believed to be Rauschenberg’s 0\f and
so may be thl:>tqlt of as embodying his famous dCtll’ll: ~Pai’lting relates to both
art and me …. (I uy to act n that gapbe•veen the•vo.l”
The Art of Collaboration Rausc h enbe rg had known Cage
since che summer of 1952 when., noc long befure che premiere
o f 4’33” in New York Scare, Cage had o rgan ized an “evenc,”
Iace r known as Thearer Piece # J, in che dining hall of Black
Mouncain College. Alchough ahnosc everyone who rc ici~
paced remembers che evenc somewha c differen dy, ic seems
cerrain cha”he poe ISM. C. Richa rds ( 19 16-99) and C ha rles
Olson ( 19 1 0-70) read poe cry from ladders, Roberc Rauscher>·
be rg played Edich Piaf [pee-AHF] records o n an old windup
pho nograph wid1 h is almosc rornlty “Wl1ice Paincings” g~
ing around che room, and Merce Cunningham ( 19 19- 2009)
danced chrough che audience, a dog ac his h eels, while Cage
h imself sar on a sre pladder, some[imes reading a kcrure on Zen
Buddhism, some[imes jusr lis[ening. “Musk,”Cagedeclared ar
some poinr in rhe evenr, “is no r lisrening m Motarr bu[sounds
such as a S[reer car o r a screaming ba b)t”
T h e evenr in augurared a collaborarion be rween Cunn g~
h am {dance), Cage (music), and Rausch enbe rg {decor and
coswme) rhar would spa n many years. T heir collaborarion
is unique in [he arts because of i[S insis[en ce o n rhe indepen ..
detre, n or inre rdependen ce, o f each parr o f rhe dan ce’s pre~
senrn[ion. Cunningh am explains:
In mocst conventional d ances there is a central idea to
which everything adheres. The dance has been made to
the piece of music, the music supports the dance, and the
decor frames it. The central idea is emphasized by each
of the several a rts. What we have done in our wo rk is to
bring together three separate dements in time and space,
the music, theda nc:eal’-.::1 the decor, allowing each one to
re main i1-.::lependent.
So Cunning ha m c reared h is ch oreography inde penden dy
o f Cage’s scores, and Rauschenbe rg based h is decors on o n ly
min imal informarion o ffered h im by Cunningham and Cage.
T h e resul[ing da nce was, by de finirion, a mmre r o f music,
c h oreography, and decor comi ng rogerh er {or n or) as a
ch ance opera[ion.
T he music Cage comrx>sed for Cunningham was also o f[en
dependenr o n ch ance opera[ions. For insrnnce, in 1959, Cage
recorded an 89~ nure piece en[ided Inderenni .. LISTEN &I • •))
nancy ([rack 15.1). 1 r consis[ed o f Cage na rraring www.l!lyarulab.e(l’!l
sho r[, h umorous S[Ories wh ile, in an orher room, our o f earsho r,
pian isc David Tudor performed seleccions from Cage’s 1958
Concerr f<rr Piano and Orcltesrra and also played pre-recorded
cape from Cage’s 1958 Concerr f<rr Piano and Orcltesrra as well
as pre~ eco ded [ape &om ano rher 1958 comrx>sidon, Fonrlna
Mix. For a la[e r collabora[ion, Variarions V, Cage’s score co ~
sis red o f sounds randomly u iggered by sensors reacring m [he
movemems of Cunningh am’s dan cers. T his resul[ed in wh ar
Gordon Mumma, a member of Cunningh am’s rroupe, called
“a supe rbly poly: ~c hr ic, ~ge ic, ph ic, rphic,
~pagic, ec hnic, ~vale , mu i~ ged circus.”
Johns and the Obvious Image Wh ereas che main poinc for
Cunningham, Cage, and Rausch enbe rg was [he idea of co ~
posi[ion wi[hour a cenrral focus, Rausch enbe rg’s close friend
and fellow paincer Jasper Johns {1930- ) cook che o pposice
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 477
Fig. 15.8 Jasper Johns b. 1930, Three Flags. 1958. Encaustic oocam<as,
0erall: 301~ X 4510 X 5 11.(78.4 X 115.6 X 12.7 ani. WMney Muset.mol
AmerK:anArt, New YOlk; SOthAnnitisaty Gift of theGiPlan Fomdation, he.,
The Lauder Fomdation, A. Alfred Tabnan, laaa-lee Whitt iec Woods, and
pucctlase00.32. An <D Jasper Johns/licensed by VAGA, New YO<t, NY. Elldl
of the ttvee flagsd ini’lishes in scale by about 25 pe1oent team the one behind.
Because the t lags project outward, geni19smalle1 eadl time, they reject
pCtorial perspectNe’s illusion of depth and draw attention to the surface of the
pai’lting itself.
rnck. T hroughour rhe 1950s, he focused on rhe mosr co ~
mo n, seemingly o bvious subjecr maHe r- n umbers, ra rgets,
mars, and flags-in a manner rhar in no waysuggesrs rhe mul~
cipliciry o f meaning in his colleagues’ work. Johns’s paiming
Three Flags is nevenheless capable o f evoking in its viewers
emo cions ranging from pacrioric res peer co equally pacriocic
oucrage, from anger ro laughce r (Fig. 15.8). Bur Johns means
che imagery ro be so o bvious chac viewers curn cheir accem ion
ro che wax~ ased paine itself, co irs almosr sinuous pplica~
cion co che can vas surface. Jn chis sense, che work- despire
being co cally recognizable-is as abscrac c as an y A bscracr
Expression isr paim ing, bur wirhour Abscracr Expressionism’s
assen ion o f che primacy o f subjecrive expe rience.
Fig. 15.9 ludwig Mies van der
Rohe. Farnsworth House. Fox
River. Plano. Illinois. 1980s.
Photo by Jon Mil lei© Hedcictl
Blessi9. Art<D 2011 Artists
Ri!t>ts Society (ARSI. New YO<t I
VG Bild-Koost, Bonn. The house
\65 commissioned as a weekend
retreat. Its battvoom and storage
areas are beh i1d ooo-IO<ld-bearing
part~ ions that dNde the i’Ueiior
478 CHAPTER 15 Decades of ChariJe
Architecture in the 1950s
Jf rhe Beac ge neracion was nci~es lis hm nr in irs se si~
biliries, che archirec[Ure o f che 1950s embodied rhe ve ry
o pposire. W ha c is known as rhe Inrernarional ~le-c ~
acre rized by pure fo rms, severe, fla c surfaces, and a lack o f
rn ncac io -do ed archireccural casre. O ne of irs
principle pracririoners was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe [meet
va nd-der ROH] ( 1886-1969). His aes<he<ic use o f refined
ausre ricy, summed up by rhe phrase “less is mo re,” is clearly
evidenc in his 1950 Farnswonh House {Fig. 15.9), wirh irs
insisre nee o n rhe verrical and che ho rttoncal elemen ts. 1 c is
vinually cranspa renr, o pening our co rhe surrounding cou ~
cryside, wich views o f rhe Fox Rive r, and also in vi[ing che
councryside in.
T he design o f Ame rican archirecr Frank Lloyd Wrighc
( 1867-1959) for <he Solomo n R. Guggenheim [000-ghenhime]
Museum in New York is a conscious cou ncers race~
menr ro Mies’s severe racionalisr geomecry, which, in facr,
W righ< despised (Fig. 15.10). Si<ua<ed o n Fif<h Aven ue
direcdy ac ross from Ce ncral Pa rk, rhe museum’s o rganic
fo rms ec ho rhe nacural world. T he plan is an in ve n ed
spiral tiggurac, o r srepp ed rower, rhac dispenses wi ch che
righr.-a ngle geomecries o f srandard urban archireccure and
che con approac h ro museum design, which led
visirors rhrough a se ries o f ince rconnecred rooms. Jnsread,
Wrighr whisked museumgoers co rhe rop o f rhe building via
eleva ro r, allowing rhem ro proceed downward o n a co ~
cinuous spiral ramp from which, across rhe o pen ro cunda in
che middle, rhey could review whar chey had already see n
and ancicipace whac is ro come. T he ramp is cancilevered
co suc h an exrenc rha c several concracro rs were frighrened
o ff by Wrigl1<‘s plans. T he plans were comple<e in 1943, bu<
conscruc[ion did nor begin unci1 1956 because o f a pr i~
<ion of new building during World War II and penni< delays
sremming from che radical n.a cure of che design. Jr was srill
nor complere ac rhe [ime o f Wrighr’sdeach in 1959. Jn many
ways Wrighr’s Guggenheim Museum represenrs che spirir o f
a rchireccural innovarion char srill pe rvades che pracrice o f
archirecrure co chis day.
Fig. 15.10 Frank lloyd Wright. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
New York, 1957- 1959. David Heald/COt<tesy of the Solomon R. Guggeriheim
Muset.m. Fl Wt?. ~ 201 I Artists Rq>ts Society (ARSI. NY. The towe<bellind
Wri!t>ts a<ignaf buildi9 ‘””‘ des9’1ed much later by Gwathmey Siegel and
Associates. It contains 51 r.m ~e feet of new and renovated gallery space,
1 sr.m &lOOJe feet of new otfCespaoe, a rest«ed theater, a new restaurant.
and retrofitted support andsta<agespaces. Wri!t>t had orignaffy proposed such
an annex to house artists’ stLKfios andoffCes, but the plan \6S ~opped fOf
filancial reasons.
Pop Art
1 n che early 196Gi, especially in New York, a numbe r o f an ises
c reaced a “realise” arc chac represenced realicy in cerms o f che
media- Mvercising, celevision, comic scrips-che imagery of
mass culcure. T he famous paincings of Campbell’s Soup cans
c reared by Andy Warhol ( 1928-87) were amo ng che firsc of
chese co find cheir way in co che gallery scene {Fig. 15.11 ). 1 n
che full o f 1962, he exhibiced 32 uniform 20″ X 16″ canvases
ac che Fer us Gallery in los Angeles. Each depicced o ne o f che
32 differenc Campbell’s Soup “flavors.” Even as che paincings
debunked che idea o f o riginali cy-are chey Campbell’s o r
War ol s~ chei r lice ralness redefined che American la d~
scape as che visual equivalenc o f che supermarkec aisle. T he
works were deliberacely o pposed co che self-conscious ubjec~
civicy of che Abscracc Expressioniscs. Jc was, in face, as ifche
paincer had no pe rsonalicy ac all. As Warhol himself puc ic,
“Jf you wane co know all abouc Andy Warhol, jusc look ac
che surface of my paincings and films and me, and chere I am.
T here’s no ching behind ic.”
T he cenn Pop Arc quickly became acrnched co work such
as Warhol’s. Coined in England in che 1950s, icsoon came co
refer co any arc whose cheme was essem ially che commodifi~
cacion o f culcure-chac is, che markecplace as che domin.anc
force in che c reacion o f”culcure.” T h us, Srill Life #20 (Fig.
15.12) by Tom Wesselmann ( 193 1- 2004) is concempo ra·
neous wich Warhol’s Soup Cans, chough neid1er was aware
Fi g. 15.11 Andy Warhol. Install ation view of Campbell’s Soup Cans,
installation at Ferus Gallery. 1962. Foooding Collection. The Andy Wruhol
Muset.m, Pi ttsburgh ~ 201 I The Andy Warhol Fooodation fa< the Visual Arts,
Inc/Artists Ri!t>ts Society (ARSI. NewYort. n a<der to 0dce the way we
encomter Campbell’s Soup on the grocery shelf, Warhol p~oed the cans on
narrow dlelves on the gallery walls.
o f che o cher umil lace in 1962, and boch are equally “pop.”
1 riSide che cabinec wich che sear scenciled o n ic- which can
be ei che r o pened o r closed- a re accual household icems,
including a package of SOS scouring pads and a can o f Ajax
cleanser. Above che blue cable o n che righc, cove red wich
cwo~di sio al represemacions {cue ouc o f magazines) o f
various (X)pular variecies o f food and d rink, is a reproduccion
o f a highly formalise paim ing by che Ducch an ise Piec Mon~
d rian. T he implicacion, o f course, is chac an -once so fa r
Fig. 15.12 Tom Wessefmann, Still Life #20. 1962. Mixed media,
41 . X 48″ X 510. (104. 14 X 121.92 X 13.97 om I. Albri!t>t·Knox Art
Gallery, Buffalo, NewYa<k. Gift of Seym .. H. Know, Jr. Art~ Estate
of Tom Wesselmann.A.icenxed by VAGA, New York, NY. An actual
silk faocetandsoapdist are il’l()()(potated into thecompos ~i on. Its
fiUOfesoent li t can be tlmed on 01 off.
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 479
Fig. 15.13 Andy Wamol. Gold Marilyn. 1962. Si~ocreen irt ons)fllhetic
pollflle<paint oncalll<lS, o II W X 57″. Digital Image~ The Musam ol
Modem Art/tioensed by SCAlA/An Resource, NY. An ~20 II The ArD/ Wamol
fotrldation lor lheVisual Ans,lnc./Anists Ri!t>ts Society (ARSI. NewYort.
The inageol Maril)fl is a drect transle~ol a 1953publicity shot lorlhe lim
removed from everyday life, n oc even, in chis case, referring
co che world- h as itself become a commodicy, no c so very dif~
ferenc from Coke o r a loaf o f Lice Oiec bread. Jn face, che
su uccure and color o f Wesselmann’scollage subdy reflecc che
su uc[Ure and color o f Mondrian’s paim ing, as if che cwo are
simply cwo differenc insrnn cesof “che same.”
By late 1962, Warhol had stopped making his paimings by
hand, instead using a photo.silkscreen process to creme the
images mech anically and employing o chers co do che work
for him in his swdio, T he Faccory. O ne of che firsc o f chese is
a series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe (Fig. 15. 13 ). tv!arilyn
Monroe had died, by suicide, in A ugusc of chac year, and che
paincing is ar on ce a memo rial m her and a commema ry o n
rhe circumsrances rhar h ad broughr h er ro despair. She is n or
so much a person as she is a pe rson ali[y, rhe c rearion o f a
Hollywood srudio sysrem wh ose publici[‘ sh or Warhol would
Fig. 15.14 Roy lichtenstein. Oh, Jeff … I Love You, 10o … But ….
1964. Oil on ~a on canvas, 4′ x 4′. Ptioate collection.«> Estate of
Roy Uc:htensten. The large size of these paintings min01s the &:ale of the
Holty\OOd s::reen and the texttl’eof the common billboard.
re pear over and over again . . As a pe rson, sh e was, o f course,
unique. Bur as a a~, sh e is in fin irety reproducible.
T h e en larged comic su ip paincings o f Roy Lichrensrein
[LI K·cen·scine) ( 1923-97) are reple te wich heavy oudines
and Ben Daydors, [he process c reared by Benjamin Day a r
rhe curn o f rhe cem ury m produce shading e ffects in ec ~
ical prim ing. Widely used in comic su ips, rhe dors are, fo r
Lichrens[ein, a conscious parody o f Seurar’s poincillism (see
C h apre r I 4). Bur chey also reveal rhe ex[enr m which eel~
ing” in (X)pular cul[ure is as “canned” as Campbell’s Soup. Jn
Oll ,]eff … (Fig. 15.14), “love” isemptiedofreal meaning, as
rhe real weighr o f rhe message is carried by che final “Bur. .. ”
Even rhe feelings inherenr in A bs[racr Expression ists’ brus ~
work came under Lichcens[ein’s mrnck (Fig. 15.15). Jn facr,
Lichcensrein h ad rnughr painring ro coUege S[Udenrs, and he
discovered char rhe “aurhe nric” ges[Ure o f Abs[racr Expres~
sionism could easily be rnught and replicated without any
emorion wha rsoever-as a complecely academic eme rprise.
O n e o f rhe mosr invem ive o f rhe Pop arrisrs was Claes
Olde nburg { 1929- ), born in Sweden buc raised from age
seven in C h icago. Jn 196 I, h e remed a sro refro nr o n New
York’s Lower Easr Side and, in rime fo r Ch ris[lnas, o pened
The Srore, filled wirh li e~size and ove ~li e~size en ameled
plas[er sculpcures o f every[hing from pie a Ia mode, m ~
burgers, ha rs, caps, 7~Up b()[des, rr .-a d~ ie combin.arions,
<!>-{watch a studio technique v ideo o n silkscreen o n
480 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
Fig. 15.15 Roy lichtenstein,192)…1997, Little Big Painting. 1965. Oil and
S)flthetic polfllerOO canvas, Framed: 70 X 8Z X 2~ in. (tn 8 X 208.3 X
5.7 ani Other (C301<asl: 68 x ao in. (172.7 x 2031 ani. Whitney Musetrn ol
American An, New YOO<; purdlase, with tt.rlds tram the Ftiends ot the Whitney
Museun of /Jme!CanArt66.2. ©Estate of Roy lichtenstein. This ~detai ~ of an
imagilary larger pai’lting is nonetheless a giant i1 its 0m riltlt.
and slices of cake. “J am fur an arc,” he wro re in a srnremenr
accompanying rhe exhibirion.,
that is political-erotica-mystical, that does something
other than sit o n its ass in a museum.
I a m for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at
a ll, a n art given the c hance of having a starting point of
I a m for an art that embroils itself with the everyday
c rap& still comes o ut o n to p. I am for an art that imitates
the huma n, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever
is necessary.
I am for an a rt that takes its form from the lines oflife
itself, that twists and exte nds a nd accumulates a nd spits
a nd d rips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet
a 1xl stupid as life itself.
Admiring rhe way rhar cars filled rhe space of auro ow~
rooms, Oldenburg soon enlarged his o bjecrs ro rhe sire of cars
and srnrred making rhem our of vin yl swffed (or nor) wirh
foam rubber. T hese o bjecrs roy no r o nly wirh our sense of
scale–a gianr lighr plug, for insrnnce-bur wirh rhe rension
in herem in ma king sofr somerhing meanr ro be hard (Fig.
15. 16 ). T hey play, furrher, in ahnosr Surrealisr fushion, wirh
nocions of sexualicy as well- che analogy bee ween inserring
a lighc plug inro irs sockec and sexual inrercourse was hardly
losr o n Oldenburg, who delighred even more ac che image of
culcural impocence chac his “sofc” lighc plug implied.
In 1954, che U.S. Supreme Courc ruled char racially segregaced
schools violared che Consricurion. Jn Brount v . Board
of Educarion, che Courr found chac ic was noc good enough
Fig. 15.16 Claes Oldenburg, b. 1929, Soft Toilet. 1966. Wood, vinyl, kapo!c,
wire, plexiglass on metal standandpaintedwoodbase, <htiall: 55oS X 281′ X
30 in.(l41 x 718 x 761anl. Whitney MusetrnotAmerican An. New
YO<I<; 50th Annioersruy ~t t Mr. and Mrs. Victor W. Garu 79.83a-b. ~ Claes
Oldenburg. Oldenburg$ an is epitomized by his sli!t>t~ but in en ional~ vulgar
sense of hun Of.
ro provide “separace buc equal” schools. “Separace educa~
rional facilicies are inherendy unequal,” che Courc declared,
and were in violadon of che Fourreemh Amendmenc co che
Consricurion’s g uarancee of equal procecrion. T he Jusrices
called o n sraces wich segregaced schools ro desegregace “wich
all deliberace speed.”
Wichin a week, che srnce of Arkansas announced chac ir
would seek ro comply wich che courr’s ruling. T he srace had
already desegregaced irs srace universicy and its law school.
Now ic was rime co desegregace elemenra ry and secondary
schools. T he plan was for lie de Rock Cencral High School
ro o pen ics doors ro African~America n scude ncs in che fall
of 1957. Buc o n Sepcembe r 2, che nighc before school was
ro srnrc, Governor Orval Faubus o rdered che srace’s Nmional
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 481
Fig. 15.17 One of the “littl e Rock Nine,” Eli zabeth Eckford, braves a jeering crowd,
September4, 1957. Alone, as &:hool opened n 1957, Elizabeth Ecklord laced the taoots ol the
aowddelyi9 the s…><eme CourtO<derto ntegrateCenual Hi!tl Sctlool in littleRock, Artansas.
The irrlc1Qe captll’es perfectly the hatred-and the detennilatiatrthat the civil ts movement
ro rhe ciry’s needy families. Jn rhis progressively
more heared aunosphere, rhe Sourhern hris~
rian Leadership Conference (SCLC), led by rhe
Reverend Marrin lurher King, Jr. ( 1929-68).
decided Birmingham would be rheir bmde~
field. In rhe spring of 1963, groups of proresrers,
garhering firsr ar local churches, descended
on rhe ci[y’s downrown bo[h ro picke[ busi~
nesses duu cominued ro mainrnin “separare bU[
equal” prac[ices, such as differen[ fi[ring rooms
for blacks and whi[es in clo[hingsrores, and ro
rake sea[S a[ “whi[es-only”lunch counrers. T he
ci[y’s police chief, Bull Connor, responded by
[hrea[ening [ 0 arres[ anyone marching on [he
downrown area, On April 6, 50 marchers were
arresred. T he nex[ day, 600 marchers ga[hered,
and police confronxed [hem wi[h clubs, arrack
dogs, and [he fire de panmenx’s new wa[e r
hoses, which, [hey bragged, could rip [he bark
off a u ee. BU[ day afrer day, [he marchers kep[
coming, [heir ranks swelling. A local judge
issued an injunc[ion banning [he marches, bU[
on April 12, [he Reverend Manin LU[her King
led a ma rch of 50 peo ple in de fiance of rhe
injunc[ion. C rowds ga[hered in an[icipmion of
King’s arres[, and, in fuc[, he was quickly rnken
inro cusrody and placed in solirnry confinemen[
in [he Birmingham jail.
Soon afre r King’s incarcerarion, [he siw~
a[ion in Birmingham worsened. A local disc
jockey ur~d [he ci[y’s African~ American you[h
ro a[rend a “big pan y” a[ Kelly Jngram Park,
across from [he 16[h S[ree[ Bapris[ C hurch.
Guard ro surround che high school and preven[ any black
S[Udems from emering. Faubus claimed he was crying ro pre~
ven[ viole nce. Eiglu of [he nine black swdents who we re
planning ro ar[endclasses duu day decided ro arrive roge[her
on Se pcember 4. Unaware of che pla n, Eliza be[h Ec kford
arrived alone {Fig. 15.17). T he orhers followed, bur were all
curned away by [he Guard. Nearly chree weeks la[er, afrer a
federal injuncrion ordered Faubus ro remove che Guard, [he
nine finally e me red Cen[ral High School. Li[de Rock ci i~
tens [hen launched a campaign of verbal abuse and ida~
[ion ro prevem [he black swdents from remaining in school.
Finally, Presiden[ Eisenhower orde red 1,000 parau oopers
and 10,000 Narional Guardsmen ro Liu le Rock, and on
Seprember 25, Cenrral High School was officially desegregaced.
Nevenheless, chaperoned chroughoU[ che year by che
Na[ional Guard, che nine black S[Udents we re spi[ ac and
reviled eve ry day, and none of chem recurned co school che
fullowing year.
B~~ April 1963, che focal poim of racial cension and S[rife
in che Uni[ed Srnres had shifred co Birmingham, Alabama,
Jn proces[ over desegregacion orders, che ci[y had closed irs
parks and public golf courses. Jn rernlimion, che black co ~
muni[y called fur a boycoH of Birmingham srores. T he ci[y
responded by halring che dis[ribU[ion of fuod normally given
482 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
1 [ was no secre[ [ha[ [he “pan y” was ro be a mass de [ra~
rion. A [ leas[ 1,000 yoU[h ga[hered [ 0 face [he police, mas[
of [hem [eenagers bU[ some as young as seven or eiglu years
old. As [he da1U of ”Freedom, freedom now!” rose from [he
c rowd, [he Birmingham police closed in wi[h [heir dogs,
ordering [hem [ 0 a[rack [hose who did no[ flee.
Police wagons and squad cars we re quic kly filled wi[h
arres[ed juveniles, and as [he arrests con[inued, [he police
used sc hool buses ro [ranspon over 600 children and ee ~
agers [ 0 jail. B~~ [he nex[ day, [he enrire narion- in fac[,
[he e n[ire world- had come [ 0 know Birmingham Police
C hief Bull Connor, as [elevised images documen[ed his dogs
a[racking children and his fire hoses li[erally washing [hem
down [he S[reets.
T he yoU[h re curned, wi ch reinforcemenrs, ove r che
nex[ few days. By May 6, ove r 2,000 demons[rarors were
in jail, and police pacrol cars we re pummeled wi[h roc ks
and bo[des whenever chey e me red blac k neighborhoods.
As che crisis mounred, secre c negoriario ns be cween che
c i[y and che proresrers resulred in change: Widlh 90 days,
all lunch counre rs, resu ooms, depanmen[ S[Ore fiHing
rooms, and drinking founrains would be open co all, blac k
and whi[e alike. T he 2,000 people under arres[ would be
released immediacely.
1c was a viccory, buc Birmingha m remained uneasy. O n
Sunday, Sepcembe r 15, a dynamice bomb exploded in che
basemenc of che 16ch S u eec Bapcisc Ch urch, a cence r fo r
many civil righcs rallies and meecings, killing four girls-one
II ~yea ~old and chree 14 ~yea ~olds. As news of che cragedy
spread, riots and fires bro ke ouc chroughouc che cicy and cwo
more ceenagers were killed.
T he cragedy d rew many moderace whices inco che civil
righcs movemenc. Popula r cuhure had puc chem ac che
ready. In June 1963, che folk-rock crio Pecer, Paul, and Mary
released”Biowin’ in che Wind,” cheir version of che song chac
Bob Dylan (194 1- ) had wriccen in April 1962. T he Pecer,
Paul, and Mary record sold 300,000 copies in cwo weeks. T he
song famously ends:
How many years can some people exisc,
Befure chey’re allowed co be free~
How many cimes can a man curn his head,
Precending he jusc doesn’c see~
T he answer, my friend, is blowin’ in che wind,
T he answer is blowin’ in che wind.
Ac che March on Washingcon Iacer chac summer-an evenc
o rga nized by che same A. Philip Randolph who had co ~
ceived of a similar evem ove r 20 years earlier, cha c cime co
promoce passage of che Civil Rights Acc- Pecer, Paul, and
Mary performed che song live before 250,000 people, che
la ~sc gachering of its kind co chac poinc in che hiscory of che
U niced Srnces. Noc many min uces Iacer, Marcin Lucher King
delivered his famous “J Have a Dream” speech co che same
c rowd. T he crio’s album, In rile Vind, released in Occo be r,
quickly rose co n umber o ne o n che c harcs. T he winds o f
change were blowing across che coumry.
Black Identity
1 cis probably fair co say chac an imporcanc lac cor concribU[ing
co che civil rights movemenc was che growing sense of echnk
idencicy amo ng che Africa ~ American populacion. Jts o rigins
can be craced back co che Harlem Renaissance (see C hapce r
14). bur chroughouc che 19 40s and 1950s, a g rowing sense
of culcural self .-awareness and sel ~de io n was caking hold,
even chough A frkan Americans did noc sha re in che growing
wealch and sense of well~ be g chac ma rked poscwar Ameri~
can culcure.
Sartre’s “Black Orpheus· O ne of che mosc impo rcanc concribucions
co chis developmenc was exiscemialism, wich ics
e mphasis o n che inevicabilicy of h uma n suffe ring and che
necessicy for che individual co ac e respo nsibly in che face
of char predicamenc. Jean-Paul Sam e’s 19 48 essay “Orphee
Noir” ~FAY nwahr] o r “Black O rpheus” was especially
influe ncial. T he essay defined “blackness” as a mark o f
auchem kicy:
A Jew, a white among whites, can deny that he is a Jew,
declaring himself a ma n among men. The block cannot
deny that he is black nor claim for himself an a~t act,
colorless humanicy: he is block. T hus he is driven to
a uthentic icy: insulted, enslaved, he raises himself up. He
picks up the word “black” f”Nt.’gre”l that they had thrown
at him like a stone, he asserts his blackness, facing the
white man, with pride.
1f, like che Jews, blac ks had undergone a shacce ring dias~
po ra, o r dispe rsion, across che globe, craces of che original
Africa n roocs we re evidenc in eve ryching fro m America n
blues and jatt co che Africa ~derived religious and ricual
praccicesof cheCaribbe an chac survived as Vodun, Sanceria,
and Condomble. For &ucre, chese we re all manifescacion.s
of an originai”Orphic” voice, which, like masce r musician
and poe c O rpheus of G ree k lege nd, who desce nded inco
Hades [HAY-deet) co rescue his beloved Eurydice [yooRJD~i
~seeL had desce nded inco che .. black subscracum”
of cheir Africa n hericage co discover an auchencic- a nd
revolucion.ary- voice.
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man Pro bably che boo k mosc inscrumenrnl
in incroducing exiscemialisc a[[icudes co an American
audience was che novel Invisible Man, published in 1952 by
Ralph Waldo Ellison { 19 13-84) and wriccen over a pe riod of
abouc seven years in che lace 1940s and early 1950s. Jn pare,
che novel is an iro nic reversal of che famous crope of Ellison’s
namesake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay “Nacure” (see
C hapcer 13): “)become a cransparenc eye~ ball. 1 am no ching.
1 see all …. ” “Jam an invisible man,” Ellison’s prologue co
che novel begins {Reading 15.4a):
REA DING 15.4a
from Ralph Ellison, Invisible Mlln (1952)
No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar
Allan A::>e; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie
ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and
bone, fiber and liquid-and I might even be said to
possess a mind. I am invisible-understand, simply
because people refuse to see me …. That invisibility
to which I refer oocurs because of a peculiar disposition
of the eyes of those with whom I come in oontact.
A matter of the construction of their inner eyes,
those eyes with which they look through their physi·
cal eyes upon reality.
Ellison’s scory is cold by a n.a rraco r who lives in a subc rra ~
nean “hole” in a cellar ac che edge of Harlem in co which he
has accide malty fa lie n in che rioc cha c ends che novel . . As
“underground man,” his sel ~a ppoi nced cask is co realize, in
che narracive he is wricing (che novel itself), che realicies of
black American life and expe rience. Ac che cruc ial curning
poinc of che novel, afce r seeing chree boys in che subway,
d ressed in ”well~ pressed, oo- ~fo ~su mm r suics …. wal ~
ing slowly, cheir shoulders swaying, cheir legs swinging from
cheir hips in crousers chac ballooned from cuffs fin ing snug
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 483
abour rheir ankles; rheir coats long and hip-[ighr wirh oul~
ders far [00 broad [0 be rhose of 11arural wesrern men,” he
muses {Reading 15.4b):
from Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
Moving through thecrONds along 125th Street,
I was painfully aware of other men dressed like the
boys, and of girls in dark exotic-oolored stockings,
their costumes surreal variations of downtown styles.
They’d been there all along, but somehow I’d missed
them …. They were outside the groove of history,
and it was my job to get them in, all of them. I looked
into the design of their faces, hardly a one that was
unlike someone I’d known down South. Forgotten
names sang through my head like forgotten scenes in
dreams. I moved through the croNd, the sweat pouring
off me, listening to the grinding roar of traffic, the
growing sound of a record shop loudspeaker blaring
a languid blues. I stopped. Was this all that would be
recorded? Was this the only true history of the times,
a mood blared by trumpets, trombones, saxophones
and drums, a song with turgid, inadequate words?
T he blues is no r enough. His new se ~a ppoi nred [ask is ro
rake rhe respo nsibiliry [ 0 find words adequare [ 0 rhe hisrory
of rhe rimes. Up ro rhis poinr, his own people have bee n
as invisible [ 0 him as he ro rhe m. He l1as o pe ned his own
eyes as he musr now open orhers’. Ar rhe novel’s end, he is
[]3{Read the document from Rom are Bearden on
484 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
derennined ro come our of his “hole.” “J ‘m sl1akingoff rhe old
skin,” he says, “and J’llleave ir he re in rhe hole. 1’m coming
our, no less invisible wirhour ir, bur coming our neverrheless.
And 1 suppose ir’s damn well cime …. Perhars d1ar’s yg ea ~
esr social c rime, J ‘ve overs rayed my hibenla[ion, since che re’s
a possibili[y chac even an invisible man l1as a socially es ~
sible role m play.”
Asserting Blackness in Art and Literature One of Ellison’s
narraror’s mosr vi[al realitacions is char he musr, above all
else, asserr his blackness insread of hiding from ir. He musr
noc allow himself ro be absorbed imo whire sociecy. “Musr 1
srrive coward colorlessness t’ he asks.
But seriously, a nd without sno bbery, think o f what the
world would locsc if that should happen. America is woven
o f many stral’x:is; I would recognize them a nd let it so re·
main …. O ur fate is to become one, and yet many-This
is not prophecy, but description.
T here could be no beHe r desc ripcion of rhe collages of
Romare Bearden { 19 11-88). who had worked for two
decades in an almosr emirely absuacr vein, bur who in rhe
early 196(1; began m tear a~s out of Ebony . Look, and Ufe
magazines and assemble chem inro depic[ions of black ex i~
ence. Tile Dooe {Fig. 15.18)- named for the white dove that
is pe rched over che cencral door, a symbol of peace and ~
mony-combines furms of shif[ing scale and differenc orders
of fragmenrn[ion. For example, a gianc cigare r[e ex rends from
rhe hand of che dandy, spo r[ing a cap, ar che righr, and che
gianr fingers of a wona n’s hand reach over che windowsill
ac che cop lefc. T he resulring effecr is almosr kaleidoscopic,
Fig.15.18 Romare Bearden. The
Dove. 1964. Cut~tedprin ed
pa~s. gouache. pencil. and OOIOled
pencilonboard. IJ:% X 18!1′
(33.8 x 47.5cml. Digital Image
~The Muset.m ol Modern Art/
licensed by fX:AlNAn Resot>’ce.
NY. An ~ Ramare Bearden
fooodation,llicensed by VAGA.
New YOtlc. NY. ThewMedog atlhe
lower left appears to bestalki’lg
theblad: cat at the foot of the steps
n themKfdle, inoountetpOi’ll to the
an urban pano rama of a conservmively dressed older ge a~
rion and hipper, you r people garhered inro a scene nearly
bursring wirh e nergy- rhe “one, and yer many.” As Ellison
wrore of Bearden’s arr in 1968:
Bearden’s meaning is identical with his method. His com·
bination of technique is in itself eloquent o f the s harp
breaks, leaps of consciousness, distortions, paradoxes, re·
versals, telescoping of time a 1-.::l surreal blending of styles,
values, hopes, and d reams which c haracterize much o f
I African) American history.
T he sense of a single black America n idenriry, o ne co ~
raining rhe diversi[y of black culrure wirhin ir d uu Bearden’s
work embodies, is also found in rhe work of poer and lay~
wrighr Amiri Bara ka [buh-RAH-kuh) ( 193 4- ). Baraka
c hanged his name from LeRoi Jones in 1968 afrer rhe assas~
sin.mion of [he radical black Muslim minisrer, Malcolm X, in
1965. Malcolm X believed rhar blacks should separare rhemselves
ffom whires in every conceivable way, [har [hey should
give up inregrarion as a goal and e re are rheir own black
narion. As o pposed ro Marrin Lurher King, who advocared
nonviolenr proresr, Makolm advocared viok:nr ac[ion if ee~
essary: “How are you going ro be no nviolenr in Mississippi,”
he asked a Deuoir audience in 1963, “as viok:nr as you were
in Korea~ How can you jusrify being nonviolenr in Missis~
sippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed,
and your liHie girls are being murde ed~ … Jf violence is
wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad.”
Baraka’s c hosen Muslim name, Jmamu Amiri Baraka,
refers ro [he divine blessing associared wirh Muslim holy men
rhar can be rransfe rred from a marerial o bjec r ro a person,
so d uu a pi) grim rerurning from Mecca is a carrier of baraka.
Baraka’s 1969 poem, “Ka’Ba” [KAH-buh), see ks ro imbue
baraka upon rhe people of Newark, New Jersey, where Baraka
lived {Reading 15.5):
Amiri Baraka, ” Ka’Ba” (1969)
A closed window looks down
on a diny courtyard, and Black people
call across or scream across or walk across
defying physics in the stream of their will.
Our wo~d is full of sound
Our wortd is more Iaveiy than anyone’s
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air.
We are beautiful people
With African imaginations
full of masks and dances and swelling chants
with African eyes, and noses, and arms
tho we sprawl in gray chains in a place
full of winters, when what we want is sun.
We have been captured,
and we labor to make our getaway, into
the ancient image; into a new
Correspondence with ourselves
and our Black family. We need magic
OCJW we need the spells, to raise up
return, destroy, and create. What will be
the sacred word?
T he sacred word, [he poem’s cide su~sts, is indeed “Ka’Ba.”
Bur, despire che spiri[Ual ro ne of rhis poem, Baraka became
increasingly milira nr during che 1960s. Jn 1967, he pro~
duced cwo of his own plays prores[ing rx>lice bruralicy. A year
larer, in his play Hmne 011 rile Range, his prorngonisr i~
nal breaks inro a whire family’s home o nly ro find rhem so
immersed in relevision char he can nor communicare wirh
rhem. T he play was performed as a benefir fo r rhe leaders
of rhe Black Panrher pan y, a black re voluriona ry polirical
parry founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newmn ( 1942-89) and
Bobby Seale ( 1936- ) and dedi cared ro o rganizing supporr fo r
a socialisr revolu[ion.
O rher evenrs, roo, reflecred rhe g rowing milira ncy of
rhe ff ica ~A ica n communi[)’. Jn Augusr 1965, violenr
riors in rhe Wa rrs discricr of Sourh Cencral Los Angeles
lasred for six days, leavi ng 34 dead, ove r 1,000 peo ple
injured, nearly 4,000 arresred, and hundreds of buildings
desu oyed. Jn July 1967, rioring bro ke our in bo rh Newark
and Derroir. Jn Newark, six days of rioring lefr 23 dead, over
700 injured, and close ro 1,500 peopk: arresred. Jn Deuoir,
five days o f riori ng resulred in 43 peo ple dead, I, 189
injured, over 7,000 people arresred, and 2,509 srores loored
o r burned. Finally, ir seemed ro ma ny char Marrin Lucher
King’s pacifism had come back ro haunr him when he was
assassinared o n April 4, 1968.
Jr was direcdy our of rhis climare d uu che popular poe cry/
music/performance/dance phenomenon known as ra p, o r
~ ho p, came inro being. S hordy afrer rhe dearh of Mar~
rin Lucher King, o n Malcolm X’s birrhday, May 19, 1968,
David Nelson, Gylan Kain, and Abiodun Oyewole fuunded
rhe g roup rhe Lasr Poets, named afrer a poem by Sourh
African poer Willie Kgosirsile {1938- ) in which he had
claimed rhar ir would soon be necessa ry ro pur poerry aside
and rake up guns in rhe looming revolurion. “The refore we
are rhe lasr poers of rhe world,” Kgosirsile concluded. Jn
performance, rhe Lasr Poers were deeply influenced by che
musical phrasings of Amid Ba raka’s poe cry. T hey mpro~
vised individually, crading words and phrases bac k and
fonh like jan musicia ns improvising o n each o rher’s elo~
dies, unril rheir voices would come rogecher in a rhyrhmic
datU and rhe number would end. Mosr of all, chey we re
polirical, aHacking whire racism, blac k bourgeois compla~
cency, rhe governmenr and rhe police-whoever seemed ro
srand in rhe way of significam progress for African Ameri~
ca ns. As Abiodun Oyewole pur ir, ··we were angry, and we
had somerhing ro say.”
Equally influemial was perfOrmer Gil Scon -Hero n ( 1949-
201 I), whO’le recorded poem “The Revolurion Will Nor Be
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 485
Televised” appeared o n his 1970 album Small Talk at l 25rll
and Lenox {Reading 15.6):
from Gil Scott·Heron. NThe Revolution Will
Not Be Televised ” (1970)
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.1
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag2 and
skip out for beer during commercials because
The re’YOiution will not be televised.
The re’YOiution will not be televised.
The re’YOiution will not be brought to you by Xerox in
4 parts without commercial interruptions.
There will be no highlights on the Eleven O”Ciock News
and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by J im Nebb or
Francis Scott Key,
nor sung by Glen Campbell. Tom Jones. Johnny Cash.
Englebert Humperdink, or Rare Eanh.
The re’YOiution will not be televised.
1 tum on and cop out A play on thernal1o al Ttnaltrf laay(1920-96L
a:lvo:ate a1dpq~ula ae r al the psychedelic dng LSD, vllo ra the 1900$
tJ”gEKI peqlle to ‘timon. tina ra,O”opoUL •
l ska~ Siarg lcr heron.
Sco ~He n’s poems, spoken co music, would influence che
developmenc o f p even more chan che Lase Poets, and
his work was o fcen “sampled” by Iace r ~ ho p disc jockeys
who c reaced rhychmic musical works by looping small ~
cions o f recorded songs on cwo curncables. Equally imporrnnc
co p were break dancing and graffici wri[ing. Alchough
widely condemned as descruc[ion of public and privace pr ~
e rcy, by che early 1900s graffici had encered che mainscream
arc markec, parcicularly in che work o f ea ~Mic el Basquiac
{see Closer Look, pp. 488- 489).
The Vietnam War: Rebellion and the Arts
Even as che civil righ ts movemenc cook hold, che Cold War
censions wich che Soviec Union we re increasi ngly exac~
e rbaced by che U niced S caces’ in volvemenc in che war in
Viecnam. By che id~ 1960s, figlu ing bee ween che Norch
Viem amese Communisrs led by Ho C hi Minh and ehe proWescern
and former French colon y o f Souch Viecnam hailed
co a massive croop buildup of American furces in che region,
fueled by a milirn ry d ra fc chac alienaced ma n y America n
youch, che po pulacion o f 5~ o~2 ~yea ~olds chac ove r che
course of che 196Gi increased from 24. 5 million co 36 million.
Across che councry, che spiric o f rebellion chac fueled che
civil righ ts movemenc cook hold o n college campuses and in
che burgeoning am i wa r communi[)’. Evencs ac che ive ~
sicy o f California ac Berkeley served co link, in che minds o f
man y, che am i war movemenc and che fighc fur civil righ ts.
Jn 1964, che universi[y adminiscracion cried co sco p scudencs
486 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
from recruicing and raising funds on campus fur cwo groups
dedicaced co ending racial disc:riminacion. Pro cescing che
adminiscracion’s rescriccions, a group o f scudencs o rganized
che Free Speech Movemenc, which iniciaced a series o f rallies,
si ~i s, and scudenc scrikes ac Berkeley. T he adminiscra[ion
backed down., and che Berkeley scudencs’ rnc[ics were quickly
adapced by grours in che an[iwar movemenc, which focused
o n removing che Reserve O fficers’ Training Corps from col~
lege campuses and helped co o rga nize anciwar marches,
eac ~i s, and rallies ac ross che councry. B~~ 1969, feelings
reached a fever picch, as over a half million pro cescers, adopc ~
ing che cac[icsof che civil righ ts movemenc in 1963, ma rched
o n Washingcon.
Kurt Vonnegut’s 5/aughterlrouse-Five
A nciwar sencimenc was reflecced in che arcs in works prim ~
ily abouc earlier wars, World War JJ and che Ko rean War, as
if ic were impossible co deal direccly wich evencs in Soucheasc
Asia, which could be seen each nighc on che evening news.
Joseph Heller’s novel Carcll-22 was widely read, and ehe Robe
re Aleman (1925- 2006) film M
ASH, a smash-hie saciric
comedy aboue ehe 4077eh Mobile Army Surgical Hospieal in
Ko rea, o pened in 1970 and spawned an II ~yea ~ long ele~
vision series chac premiered in 1972. Buc perhaps che mosc
acclaimed am i war work was che 1969 novel Slaugluerllouse.-
Fiw by Kurc Vonnegue [VON-uh-guc) { 1922- 2007). le is ehe
oddly na rraeed scory of ex- World War II OJ Billy Pilgrim, a
survivor, like Vonneguc himself, o f che Allied e~ bombing o f
Dresden [DREZ.den) {whe re 135,000 German civilians were
killed, more chan ac Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined).
Pilgrim claims co have been abducced by excrace rrescrial
aliens from che planec o f Trafalmadore. Ac che beginning
o f che book, che n.arracor (more or less, Vonneguc himself)
is calking wich a friend abouc che wa r novel he is abouc co
wrice (Slaugluerllouse.-Five), when che friend ‘s wife ince rrupcs
{Reading 15.7):
REA DING 15. 7
from Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
“You’ll pretend that you were men instead of babies,
and you” II be played in the movies by … John W>yne.
And war will look just wonderful, so we’ll have a lot
more of them. And they” II be fought by babies.
She didn”t want her babies or anyone else·s babies
killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly
encouraged by books and movies.
Jn response, Vonneguc creaces, in Pilgrim, che mosc innocenc
o f heroes, and subcicles his novel The Children’s Crusade:
A :~.-Dance wirll Dearll. Pilgrim’s reac[ion co che deach he
sees everywhere- “So ic goes”- became a ma ncra for che
generacion cha c came o f age in che lace 1960s. T he novel’s
facalism mirrored che sense o f poindessness and arbicrariness
chac so many felc in che face of che War.
and o rdered chem shoe. “Men, women, and
ild ~” Wallace asked. “Men, \Umen, and
children,” Meadlo answered.” And ies~”
“And babies.” T he cranscripc of che nc ~
view was published che nexc day in che New
York Times, accompanied by che phocograph.
Quickly, che Arc Workers’ Coalicion added
WaUace’s quesrion and Meadlo’s response co
che image (Fig. 15.19), princed a poscer, and
disrribured ic around che world.
The Feminist Movement
Fig. 15.19 Ron Haeberle, Peter Brandt and the Art Workers· Coalition, Q, And Babies? A. And
Babies. 1971l. Offset mhograj:kl, 24″ X 38″. The Muset.m of Modern An, NewYO<k. Gift of the Benem
fO< the Attica Defense ftrld. Brandt ‘””‘ the poste<S desq.e,.
Ac che same cime chac che anriwar and civil
righcs movemenrs galva nized polirical co ~
sciousness amo ng boch men and \Umen, “che
Pill” was incroduced in che early 1960s. As
women gained concrol over cheir own pro~
duc:rive funcrions, chey began co express che
sexual freedom chac men had always cake n
for granced. The scruggle for gender equali[y
in d1e Unired Srn[es found grea[er and
Artists Againstthe War
By che fall of 1969, a large number of arcists had organized in
o pposirion co rhe war. In a speech ar an o pening hearing d uu
led ro rhe c rea cion of che anciwar Arc Workers’ Coalirion,
a rr c ririe and edicor Gregory BaH cock oudined how che arc
world was complicir in che war efforc:
T he trustees of the museums direct NBC and CBS, The
New York Ttmes, and the Associated Press, and that
greatest cultural travesty o f modern times–the Lincoln
Center. They own AT&T, Ford, General r-.•fotors, the
great multi-billion dollar foundations, Columbia Univer·
sity, Alcoa, Minnesota Mining, United Fruit, a nd AMK,
besides sitting on the boards of eoch other’s museum. The
implications of these facts are enormous. Do you realize
that it is thocseart-loving, culturally committed trustees of
the Metropolitan a r•::l the Modern museums who are wag·
ing the war in Vietnam?
Jn oche r words, che museums e mb odied, in che minds of
many, che esrablishmenc polirics chac had led ro che war in
che firs< place. On Occober 15, 1969, che 6rsc Viemam Moraro
rium Day, arrists managed co close che Museum of Modern
Arc, che Whicney Museum, and che Jewish Museum, buc che
Meuopolirnn and che Guggenheim refused co close.
T he Arc Workers’ Coalirion also quickly reacced co reporcs
chac American soldiers, che men of C harlie Company, had
slaughrered men, women, and children in che viiJage
of My Lai o n rvf.arch 16, 1968. Over a year larer, in November
1969, as che army was invesrigacing Charlie Company’s plaroon
leader, Firs< Lieucenanc W.lliam L. Calley,) r., phocographs rnken
ac My lai by army phorographer Ron Haeberle appeared in che
Cleveland Plain Dealer. Four days larer, in an an inrerview by
Mike Wallace on CBS-TV, Paul Meadlo, who had been ac My
Lai, reporced chac Lc. Calley had rounded up 40 or 45 villagers
grea[er expression duoughoU[ d1e 1960s UIHil, by d1e early
19i0s, a fu ll~ lown feminis[ era emerged.
The Theoretical Framework: Betty Friedan and NOW In
1963, a freela nce jou rnalis[ and mQ[her of duee, Beuy
Friedan ( 192 1- 2006). published Tile Feminine Mysrique. In
many ways, hers was an argume1u wid1 Freud, o r a[ leas[
wid1 d1e way Freud had been underscood, or misundersrood.
While she admirs duu ”Freudian psychology, wid1 sempha~
sis o n freedom from a repressive mo rali[‘ co achieve sexual
fulfillme1U, was par[ of d1e ideology of wome n’s cipa~
cion,” she is aware d uu some of Freud’s wri[ings had been
misused as a cool for d1e suppression of women. La[elU in
Frieda n’s analysis, bU[ ce1ural m [he feminis[ moveme1u,
is her undersranding d1a[ in Freud, as in Wesrern discourse
as a whole, d1e cenn “woman” is [ied, in [erms of i[S co ~
suuc[ion as a word, co man (i[S medieval roo[ is “wifrnan,”
o r “wife [of] man”). ][ is d1us a co1uesred [enn d1a[ does no[
refer [ 0 [he biological female bU[ co [he sum mral of all [he
pa[riarchal socie[)’ expects of d1e female, including behavior,
d ress, a[rimde, and demeanor. “Woma n,” said [he feminists,
is a culwral consuuc[, no[ a biological o ne. Jn The Feminine
M~srique, Friedan rejecrs modern American socie[)?s culmral
COI”‘IS[ruc:rion of women. BU[ she could nO[, in [he end, rejec[
[he word “woman” itself. Friedan would go o n [ 0 become o ne
of d1e founders of [he Na[ional O rganizarion for Women
(NOW), d1e primary purpose of which was [ 0 advance wo ~
en’s rigl)[s and gende r equi[)’ in d1e workplace. 1 n d1is, she
dedica[txl herself ro changing, in American cui[Ure, her soci~
e[y’s undersranding of wha[ “woman” means.
Feminist Poetry T he difficul[ies d1a[ women faced in de ~
mining an ide1Ui[)’ ourside d1e pmriarc hal consuucrion of
“woman” became, in d1e 1960s, o ne of d1e chief subjec[S
of poe [ry by women, pan icularly in d1e work of d1e poe[S
Anne Sex con ( 1928- 74). Sylvia Pla ch ( 1932-63). and
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 487
C llarles rile Firsr by Jean -Mic hel Basquiar [bah -skeeAH)
( 1960-88) is an ho mage ro che greac jan saxo
phon isc C h arlie Pa rke r, o n e o f a n umbe r o f black
culcural heroes celebrared by che ff i~i ed Basquiar.
Son o f a iddle~class Broo klyn family {h is fa che r was a
Hai ia rn accouncanc, h is mocher a black Puerro Rican),
Basquiaclefc sch ool in 1977 ac age 17 and lived o n che screecs
of New York for severn I years, during which cime he de vel~
oped che “cag”- o r gra ffiri pe la e-SAMO, a comb a~
cion o f “Sambo” and “same ol’ shir.” SAMO was mosr closely
associa red wirh a rhree~ oi nred c rown {as sel ~a oi nred
“king” o f rhe gra ffiri an isrs) a nd rhe word “TAR,” evoking
racism {as in “rnr baby”), violen ce {“rnr and fearhers,” which
he would e nride a paim ing in 1982 ), and, rhrough irs a~
gram, rhe “an ” world as well. A n umbe r o f h is painrings
exh ibired in rhe 198 1 New York/New Vave exhibir ar al~
rernacive arr gallery across rhe 59rh Srreer id~ fro m rvfa ~
(la[ran au racred rhe arrem ion of several an dealers, and his
career exploded.
Cem ral ro his pe rson al icon ogra phy is rhe c rown, wh ich
is a symbol o f no [ o nly h is perso1lal success bU[ also dlar o f
rhe o d1er fr ica ~A ica n h eroes rha[ are [he subjeC[ o f
ma n y of h is works- jan an is[S1 as is rhe case here, and “fa~
mous Negro ad1leres,” as he calls rhem, such as boxer Sugar
Ray Leona rd and baseball’s Hank Aaro n.
Something to Think About …
Ma n y viewers are ar leas[ inirially pu[ o fF by rhe ~
parem sloppiness o f Basquia[‘s disrinc rive S[yle. BU[
Basquiar adopred rhis S[‘le fo r a purpose. VIlar do you
imagin e his purpose mighr !lave ee ~
488 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
Tht price of a halo at 59~
sugg61s that martyrdom is ” foe
sate” in Ba:squial’s wocld.
Beneath thtCtO’t’ln that Basquiat had inltoduced
in his SAMO years is a reference to Thor, the
NOtse god; below it, the Superman logo; and
abOYe it, a reference to tht Ma.Nel comic X·Men
heroes. Thoc is, in fact, another hero.
Marvel describes the X-Men as foiiO’t’I’S: “Born
with stta~ pO’tA!’IS, tht mutants kno’t’ln as the
X-Men use their a’Nesome abilities to protect
a world that hat es and fears thtm.” Ba:squiat
c learly means to dra’t’l an analogy between tht
X-Men and his African-Ametican heroes.
Tht “X” in Ba:squial’s v.otk is never
entirely negative. In Henry Dreyfuss’s
Symbol So~Kteboot An AllllrltitativeGuide
to lmemationaiGrajllic SymOOis, Ba:squiat
discovered a section on “HoOO Signs,”
marks left, graffiti-like, by OObos to
inform their lxethren about the lay of tht
local land. In this graphic language, an
“X” means “O.K.; All tight.”
This phrase is a reference to ~o he-1 “Charles the irs t” i~
Charles 1 of England, beheaded by Protestants in the English
Civil Wai in 1649 (see Chaptei 10). But it also Sl.lgg6ts,
especially considering ~ ctOSSed-out v.ocd “young,” Ba:squial’s
sense of his own martyrdom. I n fact, four months befOte his
28th bitlhday, in 1978, htwould become the victim, accocding
to the medical examinet’s report, of “acute mixed drug
intoxication (opiates-<ocaine).”
The ” S,” especially ctOSSed out,
also suggests OOII.ars, $.
Basquiat’s Charles the First
0 E <;;
EA_i(J . CvT ~F – ·- ,..
Jean-Michel Bas-qui at Charlc.s the First. 1982.. AcryiC and oil pai’nstd on canvas, ttveepanels, 78~ x 62~~ 0tiall.
<D 2011 The Eslate of Jean-Mictlel BasquWADAGP, PariS/ARS, NewYOft.
iew the Closer Look for Bosqu iol’s Charles the First on
Beneath the word “Ope-ra,”
and apparently on a par
with the most aristoctatic of
musk:al genres, is the title
of one of Parket’s g.reatest
tunes, “Cherokee,” topped
by four feathers in honor of
Parket’s nicknamt, “Bird.”
The feathers and song also
evoke the Chetokee Indians·
IOtCed removal I rom Georgia
to Oklahoma on the sO<alled
” Trail of Tears” in 1838.
The hand probably repcesents the
powe·Iful hand of the musk:ian,
and equally the painter.
The copytighl sign, C , whk:h
also appears spelled out at
the top of the midd~ panel,
is repeated again and again in
Basquiat’s wOik and suggests
not just ownership but the
exercise of prcperty rights and
control in Ame-1ican Society,
which Basquiat sees as ~
root cause of ~ institution of
slave~y (lo say no hi~ of ~
removal of ~C~rokee nation
to Oklahoma).
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 489
Adreinne Rich {1 929- ). Sexmn’s work is exemplary. S h e
was an affluenc housewife and mocher, living in a h ouse
wid1 a sunke n living room and a backyard swimming pool
in che Boscon suburb o f Wesco n, Massach useHs. Buc sh e
was personalty ac odds wich h er life, and as h er husband saw
his formerly dependenc wife become a cele bricy, che ir ~
riage dissolved inco a fa bric o f ill will, discord, and physical
abuse. T he poem wich which she open ed mosc readings, che
ecscarka lly wiccy “Her Kind,” publish ed in 1960 in h er firsc
book o f poems, To Bedlam and Parr Va1 Back, ca ptures the
sense o f independen ce chac defined he r from che beginning
{Reading 15.8):
Anne Sexton, ” Her Kind” (1960)
I have gone out, a possessed witch
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil. I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite mv thigh
and mv ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
Feminist Art Desp ire rhe adva n ces made by women in
rhe arrs in rhe 1960s, real c h ange was slow i n coming.
Alth ough i n 1976 approximately 50 pe rcent o f the professio
nal a rrisrs i n rhe U n ired S ra res were women, o n ly
15 in 100 e~ person sh ows in New York’s presrigious gal~
leries we re devored ro work by women. Eighr years lare r,
rhe Museum o f Modern Arr reope n ed irs en la rged facili~
ries wirh a sh ow enrided An Inrernarional Surve~ of Painr~
ing and Sculprure . O f rhe 168 arrisrs re presenred, o n ly 13
were women.
Faced wirh sraris[ics such as [hese, in 1985 an y~
mous group o f wome n duu called [hemselves [he Guerrilla
Girls began h anging posters in New York City {Fig. 15.20).
T hey lis[ed rhe specific galleries who re presen[ed less rhan
I woman our o f every I 0 men. An orher pos[er asked: “How
Ma ny Women Had e~ son Exh ibi[ions ar NYC Muse~
utns Lasr Yea ~” T he answer:
Guggenheim 0
Metropolitan 0
Modem I
W him ey 0
O n e o f rhe Gue rrilla Girls’ mosr da ring posre rs was dis~
cri bured i n 1989. Jc asked, “Wh en racism & sexism are
n o lo nge r fash io n ab le, wh a c will your arr collec[ion b e
worrht’ 1c lis[ed 67 women a rrisrs and poin[ed our cha c
a co llec cion o f works by all o f chem would be worrh less
chan che a rc aucrion value of an y one paincing by a famous
living male arrisr. Jcs sugges[ion chac che value o f che male
Do women have to be naked to
get into the Met. Museum?
Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern
Art sections are women, but 85%
of the nudes are female.
GuERRIUA G11Ls ‘””‘””” .. ,., … -· w w W • 9 u • r t I I I • 9 I I I s. c 0 m
Fig. 15.20 Guerrilla Girls. Do women hwe to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?1989. Postel.© 1989, 1995 by the
Guenilla Girls, Inc. The figure is a parody of Je:a.n-Auguste-OominQue lngres’s 1814 neoclassical painti’lg, La GrandOdaJisque, in
the collection of the towre, Paris.
490 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
a rrisrs’ wo rk mighr be d rasrically in flared su uck a c ho rd
wirh many.
By rhe lare 1990s, rhe sima cion had changed somewha r.
Many more women were regularlyexhibired in New York gal~
leries and more major re rrospecrives were given rheir work.
Bur, inre rna rionally especially, women concinued roger shorr
shrifr. Where a reuospecrive by a major mak: arrisr- Robe rr
Rauschenbe rg, fOr insrnnce- mighr originare in New York ar
rhe Guggenheim and cravel co ince rnacional venues around
che world, mosc recrospecrives of women a rrisrs remained
much more modesr- a single nonuaveling show ac, say,
che New Museum in New York o r che Los Angeles Councy
Museum of Arr.
Jc is difficulc co pinpoinc exacdy when “mode rnism” ended
and “pos[lnodernism” began, buc che curning poinc came in
che 1970s and 1980s. Archiceccs began ro rejecc che pure,
almosc hygienic uniform icy of che Jnce rna cional Scyle, ~
resenred by rhe work of Mies van der Rohe {see Fig. 15.9),
favoring mo re ecleccic archiceccural S[yk:s cha[ were anyrhing
bu[ pure. A single building mighc incorporace a classical col~
o nnade and a roof line inspired by a piece of C hippendale
furni[Ure. O r ir mighc look like [he Rasin Building in Prague
(Fig. 15.21). Buil[ o n che si[e of a Renaissa nce su ucwre
desuoyed in World War IJ, [he building’s [ee[ering sense of
collapse evokes [he pos[ war ci[yscape of [wis[ed l~beams,
low ~ou [ facades wi[h rooms sranding open ro che sky, and
sunken foundacions, all srnnding nex[ co a building ro rally
unaffecred by [he bombing. Bu[ [hac said, che building is also
a playful, almos[ whimsical cek:bra[ion, amo ng O[he r chins;,
of che marvels of modern engineering-a building made co
look as if i[ is ac [he brink of carns[ro phe, even as i[ is co ~
plecely suuc[urally sound. So lig hc ea rred is [he building
d uu i[ was called [he “Dancing House,” o r, mo re specifically,
“Ginger and Fred,” afre r [he American film S[a rs Ginger
Rogers and Fred Asraire. T he mo re solid cower o n [he corner
seems co be leading [he [ransparen[ rower-Ginger- by [he
waisr, as [he cwo spin around che corner.
T he bu ilding was rhe idea of Ctec h a rchirec r Vlado
Milunic [MILL-un-irch) ( 1941- ). and he e nlisred American
archirecr Frank Gehry [GHEH-ree) ( 1929- ) ro collabo
race o n che projecc. To many eyes in Prague, a ci[y
renowned for irs classica I a rc hirec [ure, i[ seemed an so~
I ure ly alie n American ele me m d ro pped inro [he c i[y. Bu[
MiluniC conceived of che building as addressing modern
Prague even as i[ engaged che ci[y’s pasc. He wanced [he
building [ 0 con.siS[S of [WO parts: “like a socie[)’ chac fo rgo[
irs CO[alirarian pasr- a srn [iC pa rr- bu[ was moving in co a
world full of cha nges. T hac was che main idea. Two di ff ~
e m pares in dialogue, in [ension, like plus and minus, like
Yang and Yin, li ke man and woman.” Jc was Ge hry who
nicknamed i[ “Ginger and Fred.”
T he use of many diffe renc, even comradiccory elemems
of design is che halhn ark of postmodern archi[eC[ure. T he
English c riric Perer Fuller explained rhe rnsk of rhe posrmode
rn archi[eC[ chis way:
The west front of Wells Cathedral, the Parthenon pedi·
ment, the plastic and neon :s-igns on Caesar’s Palace in Las
Vegas, even the hidden intricacies of a r-.•fie:s- curtain wall,
a re a ll equa lly “interesting.” Thus the Pocst-Modern de·
:s-igner must offer a shifting pattern o f changing strategies
a nd substitute a shuffling of codes and devices, val’)’ing
cea:sde:ssly according to a udience, and/or building type,
a 1xl/or environmental circ umstance.
Bu[ pe rl1aps [he clearesr and mos[ semil1al S[acemen[ of
[he posnnodern aes[he[iC is [ha[ of archi[eC[ Robe r[ Venxuri
{ 1925- ), whose 1966 “Gemle Manifesro” described c rire ria
for a new eclec[iC approach co arc hi[eC[ure dla[ abandoned
[he clean and simple geomeu ies of modern archi[eC[Ure. Jn
irs place, Ven[uri argued fur “an archirecwre of complexi[)’
and concradic[ion …. )[ mus[ embody [he difficul[ uni[y of
inclusion rache r d1an [he easy uni[)’ of exclusion.”
T he posnnodern aesrhe[iC [hen invi[ed [he oss~ ilita io n
of differen[ S[yles and cul[ures ro c rea[e a new, mo re co ~
plex whole. Jn Japan., parricularty, Wesrern influences l1ave
direcdy challenged [he cradi[ionaiJapanese view dla[ Japan is
Fig. 15.21 Frank Gehry and VIa do Mil unit. The Rasin Building, also
known as the Danci ng House or “Ginger and Fred.” Prague. Czech
Republic. 1992~. Thebuildi”iJI<ISChampioned byVaclav Havel(l~.
the c .. mplaywri!t>twho served as president of first Czedloslovatiaand then
the C2ech RepubiC tcom the fall of the Soviet t.klioo in 1989 ooti12003. Ha~l
had li~ next door since chikhxxi.
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 491
Fig. 15.22 Yasumasa Morimura, Portrait (Twinst 1988. Color llotograj:kl,
clear medit.m, 6’1010″ X 10′. NW House, To!c)’O. Courtesy ol the artist and
lthing Augusti’le, New Yak. By aoss-ctessing-and in this image, oo-aoss·
~essing, Matimtl’a challenges Japanese male gender ident~y as well.
a discincc and isolaced culcure. oss~fe rc ilitmion is everywhere
and even Japaneseculcure is easily permeable in che a~ o f dig~
ira! rechnology. In Porrrair (Tuins) (Fig; 15.22), lOr insrance, a
,-ill!illtill!ltl:&:2;!!:!1L-, sel nraic by Yasumasa Morimura
[mo r-i h -moo-r ah ) ( 195 1- ).
che a rrisc poses as bo ch Ma nee’s
Olympia (see Fig. 13. 13) and her
maid, manipulacing che phocograph
wid1 a compucer in che S[Udio, while
……,-~ -~–‘[ subven ing che idea o f Japanese iso~
lacionism even more rx>incedty. On
che o ne hand, he copies che icons o f Wesce rn culwre, buc
ac che same cime he undermines che m, drawing accencion
co che face chac che coun esan and her maid share che same
idenci[y- [hey are wi s”~laves [ 0 dte dominan[ {male)
fo rces o f Wes[e rn sociuy. He places Japanese culwre as a
whole- and in l)lH[icular [he Japanese male-in dte same
(X)Si[ion, as pros[i[u[e and slave m dte WesL
Jn Morimura’s phO[ogra ph, u a nscuhural exchange is
also a cransgendered performance. All boundaries, be[veen
Eas[ and Wes[, male and female, seem [ 0 disi nxegra [e.
T his blurring of dte boundaries in dte collision o f c ul[Ures
and mul[iple idenci[ies is epimmized by che concroversial
pa inring Tile Holy Virgin Mary by C hris O fili ( 1968- ) (Fig.
15.23), is rn Nigerian paince r, which is a case in
rx>inL Ohli po ruays che Virgin as a black woma n, and su ~
rounding her are pwri {winged che rubs) wid1 bare bo u oms
and genirnlia CU[ OU[ o f po rnogra phic magazines. Two balls
o f e lephanc dung, acquired from che London Zoo, suppon
che paim ing, inscribed wid1 che words “Virgin” and “Mary,”
a chird clump defining o ne o f her breasts. T he son o f black
Africa n Cmholic par ems, bo ch o f whom were bo rn in Lagos
[LA Y~goss], Nigeria, and whose fi I’S[ language was Yoruba,
Ofili has used chis Wes[ African cul[ure as a source o f i~
racion fur his arL
492 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
Fi g. 15.23 Chris Ofili, 771c Holy Virgin Mary. 1996. Paper collage, oil paint,
gmt.,, poll’f’Stei resin, map pins, and elermnt d.r9on linen, 8′ x 6’. The
Saatchi Gallery, london. Photo: Diane Bondareii/APWorld Wide Photos. While
on display in Brooklyn, the pai’ltingwas smeared withvMepaint by an angry
72·year-old spectator .
T he display o f sexual o rga ns, especially in prese rn~
[ions o f female divini[ies, is commo n in Yoruba cui[Ure, and
Ofili’s puui are meanc co represe1u modern examples o f [his
indigenous u adi[ion., symbolizing che fen ili[y o f [he Virgin
Mary. As fo r elephanc dung, in 1992, during a crip m Zi ~
babwe zi way), O fili was suock by its beaU[y af[e r i[
was dried and varnished. He also came co unders[and i[ was
worshiped as a symbol of fer[ili[1 in Zimbabwe, and he began
[ 0 moum his paim ings on clumps o f dung as a way, he said,
“of raising [he paim ings up from che ground and giving [hem
a feeling cha[ [hey’ve come from che eard1 rmher chan simply
being h ung o n a wall.”
The Holy Virgin Mary am vork rhus reflecrs Ofili’s Afri·
can he ri[age. BU[ he undersmod cha[ che African associa~
don o f genirnlia and dung wid1 fenili[y and female divinides
would be los[ o n his Wes[ern audience. Jndeed i[ was. W hen
che paincing was exhibi[ed a[ che Brooklyn Museum in la[e
1999, i[ provoked a smnny reac [ion. T he Ca cholic ca di~
nal in New York called i[ a blasphemous acrnck on religion,
and che Cmholic League called for de mo n.s[rmion.s ac che
Museum. New York’s Mal'” Rudolph W. Giuliani rhrearened
co CU[ o ff che museum’s funding as well as evic[ i[ from che
ci[1-owned building i[ leased. {He was forced co back down by
che courcs.) For Ofili, che conflic[ h is paiming genera[ed was
Fig. 15.24 Shahzi a Sikandor, PleiiSurt PiiiMs. 2001. WatetOOIOf. dry
pqnent. eglltableoolcx. tca.aocl ‘
“”‘””li papef. 12″ X IO”.Collccticnof
Amita aocJ l’l.woooclu Chattwjee. Courtesy Sll<omaJentns & Co .. New YC<t.
As part of he< oogoing illi’OStil!atioo of iclentity, Sil<anclc< has tatoo to 1ating
the veil in pubiC. somethingshenev8fdidbef0t’emovif’910 Ametlca. in what
she labels “perfcxmancos” of he<PatistMi he<itage.
itse tf emblematic of the colhskJn o( culture .. th.;u de fine his
own identity. At the smnc ume, 1t cnn ~ s:ud th.!lt chi! concro~
versy h elped make om. even n-.orc prnmaocnc :md did ltnle [Q
diminish the”” of h., art. In 2003, he'””‘ cho<en
w represen< Great Bnnun at the Vemce Boennale, P<“lq,; the
ma;c prom1nem comemp1rnry t:lolxll on cxh.b.uon.
Somolarly, the Paktstant pamter Shah!la Soknnder
addresses her heterogeneou; background m 11orks <uch ru
Pka.slln! Ptllars (Fog. 15.24) bl remvenuns: the tmdouonal
genre of m1mature pamung m a h)·bnd of .,ryles. Combm ..
ing her uammg as a mmgrure arrttt an her nauve Paktiran
with her focus on contempcrat)’ an Jurins: her studies at the
Rhode Island School of De.ogn. S.ltander explores the ren·
suns mherent m lsbm’5 encoonter wuh the WeSJem world,
Chnsuantl)’ as well as the neoghbonng South A<~an rradt·
uon of H onduosm. In d>e center of Pktuun! Pollars, Sobnder
ponrays herself wuh the !j>traltng horn. of a 1>nwerful male
ram. Below her head are two hodac:~, one a Western Venus,
rhe “‘her Devo, the Hmdu goddess of ferttltl)’, raon, heald>,
a nd nature, who a& sud to hold the crH1re una verse an her
womb. Between them, two hetuts pull’l l’l hlt’WXI, a reference
co h er dual sources o f inspira cion,
Eost ond West. Eastern and West·
ern images o f pmver also inform the
image as a lion kills a deer at the
bonom lefc, a direct artistic quote
from an Iranian miniature of the
Safavid (sah-FAH-weed( dynasry
( 1501- 1736), and ar rhe rop, a
mooem fighter jer roars post.
The cross .. fenili:!arion of uadmons so evident m Stkan ..
der’s work, final!)•, also infuses rhe art of btono ond H.,.
panic culture in the United Stares. From the begmnmg of
rhe sixteenth cenrut)’, the HtSpani:!ataon of lnd1an culture
and the lndianir.uion of Haspanac culture m laun and
South America created a uruque culrural plurahsm. B1• the
last half of rhe twentieth ceruury, Launo culrure became
ancreasingly Americani1ed, and an 1nflux of Hu;pan ac
ammtgranu helped Larini!e Amencan culture. The ~atua ..
uon has been summed up by Pueno Rteo-oorn poet Aurora
Levons Morales (moh-RAH-Iays( ( 1954- ) 111 “011Id of d,.
Americas” (Reading 15.9):
REA Df NG 15.9
Aurora Levins Morales, “Child of the
Americas • (1986)
I am a child of the A mericas,
a light·skinned mestiza of the Caribbean.
a child of many diaspora, bom into this continent at a
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican J f!/W,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An 1m migrant and the daughter and granddaughter of
1m migrants.
1 speak English with passion: It’s the tongue of my
a flash1ng knife blade of crystal, my tool, my craft.
I am Canbei’i:a, island grown. SpaniSh IS my flesh,
Rtpples from my tongue, lodges on my htps.
the language of garic and mangoes,
the su1g1ng of poetry; the 11′!ng gestures of rrtf hands.
I am of Latu”WlamerK:a, rooted 10 the hlstcxy of my
I speal: from that bod<
1 am notAfncan. Alrca IS 10 me, but I camot ratum.
1 am not taina. Tailo1 is in me, but there•s noway back.
1 am nor EtXopean. EtXope Ms'” me. but I have no
I am new. Hestcxy made me. My fust language was
I was bom at the crossroads
and I am wrote.
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJa11ge 493
IM>at is existentialism?
Afrer World War II Euro pe was gripped by a pro found
pessimism. T h e exisce ncial philosophy o f ea ~Paul &Here
was a direcc response. W ha c did Sarcre mean by che phrase
”Exiscen ce precedes esse ce”~ He agreed chac che h uman
condicion is defined by alien acion, anxiecy, lack o f mh ~
cicicy, and a sense o f no chingn ess, buc h e said chac chis did
n oc a broga ce che respo n.sib ilicy co ac e and c rea ce ea ~
ing. Sarcre ‘s play No Exir and Samuel BeckeH’s Vairingfor
Godar are examples o f che T heacer o f che Absurd. Wh ac are
che c ha racce riscics o f chis brand o f cheace r ~
IM>at is Abstract Expressionism, and how did the Beats and
Pop Art challenge its ascendancy?
Jn America, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Koon ing
inspired a ge nera [ion o f arcists [ 0 abandon re prese1ua cion
in favor o f direccly expressing cheir e mo[ions o n che ca ~
vas in co cally abscrac c cenns. How did abscracc expressio ~
isc paince rs like Mark Rochko and Helen Fra nkenchaler
differ from Polloc k and de Koon ing!
Ac che same cime, che Bear ge n e ra [io n, a younge r,
more re bellious gen e rae ion o f wri ce rs and aHiS[S, began
co c ri[ique American culcure. Swiss pho[ogra pher Robe rc
Frank’s The Americans revealed a side o f American life
char our raged a public used co seeing che councry chrough
che lens o f a h appy o pcimism. Allen Ginsbe rg lash ed our
in h is poem “Howl” wich a fo rchrighc and uncensored
fra nkness cha r seemed [ 0 m an y an a ffro nc [ 0 dece n cy.
Wh a c was che n a cure o f che colla bo ra cio n b ee ween co ~
poser Jo hn Cage, dan ce r Merce Cunningh am, and aHisc
Roberc Rausc nb g~ W h ac ch aracce rizes Rausch enbe rg’s
combin e ail gs~ W h ac defin es Cage’s 4’33” as musid
Jn wh ac ways do che American Beats reflec c che exis ~
cialism o f ea ~Paul Sanre ~
Po p Arc reflecced che commodificacion o f culcure and
che ma rke r p lace as a domin anc cuhural force. Jn wh a c
ce nns did Andy Warh ol compa re Marilyn Monroe co
./ tudy and review on myari>
Abstract Expressionism A sq·le of pai1Ui1′ g pracdced b)’ A.ner~
ica•’ arrisrs worki•’g duri•’g a.,d afrer World War II.
action painting A rer.n ooi., ed b)·Cri(iC Harold Ros.e.,berg m
renecr his Ul)derStal)di.,g char rhe Ahstracr ExpressiOI)isC ca.was
“-as “•’o to.’ger a picrure, bur a., eve1u. ”
Beat generation The America•’ poecs, wri(ers, a., d arristsof
rhe 1950s whosoughc a heiglue., ed a., d, che)’ believed, more
aurhe1uic S()’le of life, defi,,ed b)’ alie.,ario•’· I)OI)COI)fM.nir)’,
sexualliberario•’ · drugs, a.,d alcohoL
combine painting Work crea[OO b)’ Roberr Rausche•’ berg e~
gi•’•’i•’g i•’ rhe mid~ 1 950s char oo.nbi.,es all ma””er of .na(erials.
494 CHAPTER 15 Decades of Change
Campbell’s Sou ~ How did Tom Wesselmann suggesc chac
paincing icself was a commodi y~ How did Roy Lichcenscein
pa rody Abscracr Expression isc ai nc g~ Claes Olde nbe rg
c reaced wiHy re produccions o f American goods. How did
h e change ch ~
How did the politics of change challenge the status quo in the
By 1963, che Souchem C hriscian Leade rsh ip Confere
nce (SCLC), led by che Reverend Marcin luche r King, Jr. ,
h ad decided char Birmingh am, Alabama, would be che o~
cal poinc o f che burgeon ing civil righcs movemenc. O n e o f
che mosc impo rrnnc faccors concribucing [ 0 che success o f
che civil righ ts movemenc was che growing sense o f e chnic
iden[icy among che African~ American (X)pulacion. How did
Fren ch exisce ncialisc philosopher ea ~Paul &ucre concr ~
uce m chis new found sense o f self? How did ic find ex pres~
sion in che wri[ings o f Ralph Ellison and A miri Baraka ~
As American involveme nc in che war in Viem am esc a~
laced chroughouc che 1960s, an ises and wrice rs respo nded
i n a numbe r o f ways. W h ac [ac k did Kurc Vonneguc [ake
i n h is I 969 n ovel Slaugll!erllouse-Fiw! How did che Arc
Workers’ Coali[ion es d~ W h ac see ps did chey e~
J n 1963, i n h e r boo k The Feminine M~srique, Beuy
Friedan au acked che pacriarch al conscruccio n o f che idea
o f “woman.” W h ac was che primary o bjec c o f h er accack~
Poe [S and pa ince rs foughc co find a place in an arc wo rid
char almos[ [O[ally excluded women from exh ibi[ion and
even gallery re presenrn [ion.
How would you define the postmodern?
Posunodern arc h icec cure is ch a rac ce rized b y a co di~
[io n o f concradic[ion chac is in clusive and n oc exclusive.
Jn che a r[s, chis sense o f inclusiven ess auchorizes works in
whic h iden[icy and mea ni ng are plural and mulciplicicous,
c rossing scylis[iC and culcural boundaries. How do arciscs
like Yasumasa Morimura and S h aluia Sikander n ego[ia [e
chese ou daries~ How does “Spanglish” reflecc che same
oss~cul cural ego ia io ~
existentialism A philosoph)’ char argues char j,,dividuals muse
defi,,e rhe co.,dirio•ts of rheir Ovt) exisre.,ce a.,d choos.e m ace
echicall)’ eve•’ i•’ a world wirhouc God.
postmodern ),, archi(eccure, referri•’g ro rhe use of mal))’ iff ~
e1u, eve•’ co.uradic[()r)’eleme.,cs i•’ desigt’; more broacH)’, ar))’
S()•le char eschews rhe Ul)i(ies sought b)’ modem ism i•’ favor of
pluralism, mulriplici[)’ of .nea.,i,,g, a.,d ambiguiC)’·
Theater of the Absurd A rhea(er ir’ which rhe .near,ir,glessr,ess
of exis(e., ce is rhe cel)(ral rhema(iC co., cer•’·
The Environment and the Humanist Tradition
Wha c is che role o f arr oday~ W ha c
does che museum o ffe r us~ W hac
abouc liceracure, che book, che oe ~
)s che museum me rely a reposico ry o f culwral
rc ifuc s~ Is che poem a cired and sel ~i dulge nc
form o f imelleccual cissis ~ Can opera move
us even mo re meaningfully chan popular music~
How can che arts help us co underscand no c only
our pasc, buc our presenc and our fucure~ T hese
are quescions chac arcists, wricers, and musicians
are com inualty asking chemselves, and quescions
chac scuden ts o f che h umanicies, coming co che
e nd o f a book such as chis o ne, mighc well ask
chemselves as well.
Conside r an inscalla cion by Da nish a rrisc
Olafur Eliason ( 1967- ), Tile Vea rller Pro jeer
(Fig. 15.25). W hen he insralled ir in rhe mammO[h
Turbine Hall of che Thee Modern, London,
in che wincer o f 2003, ic was roundly c ricicited
as “mere” e me rcainme m , in no small pare e~
cause ic accracced over cwo million visicors. Ac
rhe end o f rhe 500-foor hall h ung a gianr yellow
o rb, 90 feer above rhe floor. T he ceiling irself
was covered wich mirrors, chus doubling che site
o f che space. T he “sun” was acmally a semicircle
o f some 200 yellow sodium screedighcs, which,
when reflecced in che ceiling mirrors, formed a
circle. Arcificial mise machines filled che hall
wich a dull, winery fog. Whac was che ccrac io ~
T hey were aHrac[ed, ic seemed, co che very
a rcificiali[y o f che en viro nmem. Visicors co che
[Op floor o f [he gallery could easily see [he [ru ss~
ing supporcing [he mirro red ceiling as well as che
COI”‘IS[ruc[ion o f [he sun shape. T he ex[raordina ry
visual effeC[S o f Eliason’s ii”‘IS[alla[ion were, in
d1e end, c rea[ed by rmher o rdinary means. Bm
d1is o rdinariness, in curn, sugges[ed profound
and somewha[ dismrbing cru[hs abom our world
alld our wi lllll tu . If Elias011 could ea ~ rhis a lmos[ posrnpocalypcic en viro nmen[- wi[h i[S
dead, headess sun, pe rpe[ual fog. and cold scone
ground-.wid1 such minimal means, wha[ mighc
Fi g. 15.25 Olafur Eliason. The Wcalh~N Project installation view atthe Tate Modem, london. 2003. Moootcequency li~ts, projection foil, haze machine, minOt oil, ah111irun, and
scaffoldi<9. Coollesy of therutist, Tanya Booalxlar Gallery, NewYO<t, and neugerriemsdlneider,
we, as a world, c rea[e wi[h che advanced cechnologies so ead~
ily ac our dis osal~ Jn o cher words, as viewers lay o n che floor
o f che museum, and saw chemselves reflec[ed on che ceiling
above, were chey viewing chemselves in che presenc,orseeing
chemselves in che fu[ure~ W hac hach humani[y oughc ~
The Vea rher Projecr was, chen, someching o f a ill~
ing expe rience, bo[h li[erally and figuracively. “)regard …
museums,” Eliason has said, “as spaces where o ne S[eps even
deepe r inco socie cy, from where o ne can scrminite soci~
e[y.” his pe rhaps rekvam for you co consider chis book as
such a space. To conclude, wha[ is i[ abom your world cha [
you have come co unders[and and apprecia[e more deeply
and fully! •
CHAPTER 15 Decades of OJange 495