Kenyon College

“Smash the control images:” Idiosyncratic Visions in Late Century American Art

March 19, 2018–April 19, 2018  [+]

“In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket…”

“A Supermarket in California,” Allen Ginsberg

During the 1960s and 1970s, America experienced a period of drastic social change, in which artists began materializing their own idiosyncratic visions against the background of the Vietnam and Cold Wars, racial inequality, drug culture, and the protest movements. The backbone of this Gund Associate (intern)-curated exhibition is composed of Gund Gallery collection works ranging in date from the late 1960s to the early 2000s by artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Corita Kent, Roy Dean De Forest, William T. Wiley, Don Nice, David James Gilhooly and others who share an anti-establishment agenda. The artworks challenge canonical art movements of the twentieth century, such as Modernism, Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, and the purist formalism of the New York gallery scene. Stylistically many of the artists make use of cartoon imagery, caricature, and other lowbrow visual forms to subvert the seriousness of dominant artistic trends and construct works of humor and wit. The pieces integrate appropriations from commercial culture and combine multiple mediums to parody and critique previous conceptions of high art. Due to the close ties between literary, commercial, and aesthetic trends, the exhibition works are supplemented with examples of contemporary material culture and literary excerpts.  In drastically rebelling against the previous conventions of the art world, these eccentric works mirror the full social upheaval proclaimed by William S. Burroughs in his 1961 anarchic novel, The Soft Machine, “Smash the control images. Smash the control machine.”

Opening Reception: Monday, March 19, 5:00-8:00 PM

Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are sponsored, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Image: Don Nice (American, b. 1932), Double Predella, 1976. Watercolor on paper. 40 x 80 1/4 inches. Gund Gallery Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Gund ’63.



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