Unit 8 Further Consideration
Conceptualism in Brazil
While this guide focuses on Conceptualism in the United States and Europe, artists around the world have employed strategies to expand traditional notions of art. In the late 1960s, as Brazil was ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship, Conceptual art's emphasis on ideas made it an ideal vehicle for the clandestine expression of political dissent. Divide your students into small groups to research Brazilian Conceptual artists—particularly those involved in the Neo-Concrete movement, such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, and Cildo Meireles. Ask your students to investigate the ideas, strategies, and materials these artists used. How does their work relate to the political climate of Brazil? How does it compare with the American and European Conceptual art explored in this guide?
Art and Politics
The latter part of the 1960s, continuing into the 1970s, is remembered for the confrontational spirit that produced a "counterculture" and a wave of protests against the establishment and its policies. Have a discussion with your students about the American political climate in the 1960s and 1970s, and make a timeline of the major events and movements of this period. Ask your students to compare the political climate in the 1960s and 1970s to that of today. What is similar? What is different?
Many artists made work using strategies or subject matter that critiqued social, political, and economic structures. Discuss artists and artwork that addressed the fraught political climate of the time, such as Hans Haacke's 1970 Poll of MoMA Visitors, which solicited museumgoers' opinions on the Vietnam War, and the Art Workers Coalition's antiwar posters, also made in the 1970s.
Marcel Duchamp and the Art of Ideas
Many of the artists in this guide were influenced by the work of artist Marcel Duchamp and his concept of the readymade. Ask your students to research Duchamp's work. What examples did he set for artists such as Joseph Kosuth, John Baldessari, and Dan Flavin? Students may want to visit Red Studio, A MoMA Site for Teens (http://redstudio.moma.org/) to hear MoMA curators and students discuss Duchamp's work and his legacy.
Design Your Own Podcast
MoMA's Youth Advisory Council created podcasts about works of art in the Museum's collection, including Donald Judd's Untitled (Stack) and other works made in the 1960s. Ask your students to listen to the podcasts on Red Studio, A MoMA Site for Teens (http://redstudio.moma.org/) then discuss the podcasts as a group. Refer to the Make Your Own Podcast section of the site for suggestions about how students can create their own podcasts about the works of art in this guide. Encourage your students to submit their podcasts to Red Studio when they are finished.
Give your students a copy of Richard Serra's "Verb List" (1967–68), below. Serra wrote this list because he wanted to construct a system in language that would "establish a series of conditions to enable me to work in an unanticipated manner and provoke the unexpected." [Richard Serra, quoted in Gimenez, Richard Serra, 30.]
Have your students read his list aloud, imagining how these ordinary actions might be applied to the different materials Serra uses, including lead, rubber, and steel.
to roll, to crease, to fold, to store, to bend, to shorten, to twist, to dapple, to crumple, to shave, to tear, to chip, to split, to cut, to sever, to drop, to remove, to simplify, to differ,
to disarrange, to open, to mix, to splash, to knot, to spell, to droop, to flow, to curve, to lift, to inlay, to impress, to fire, to flood, to smear, to rotate, to swirl, to support, to hook, to
suspend, to spread, to hand, to collect—
of tension, of gravity, of entropy, of nature, of grouping, of layering, of felting—
to grasp, to tighten, to bundle, to heap, to gather, to scatter, to arrange, to repair, to discard, to pair, to distribute, to surfeit, to complement, to enclose, to surround, to encircle,
to hide, to cover, to wrap, to dig, to tie, to bind, to weave, to join, to match, to laminate, to bond, to hinge, to mark, to expand, to dilute, to light, to modulate, to distill—
of waves, of electromagnetism, of inertia, of ionization, of polarization, of refraction, of simultaneity, of tides, of reflection, of equilibrium, of symmetry, of friction—
to stretch, to bounce, to erase, to spray, to systematize, to refer, to force—
of mapping, of location, of context, of time, of carbonization—
[Richard Serra, quoted in Gimenez, Richard Serra, 49.]
Have each student write their own list of five to ten verbs about another work in this guide, making sure their verbs reveal something about the materials or process of making the work. After completing their lists, have your students take turns sharing them with the class.
Visit The Museum of Modern Art and ask your students to identify a work of art included in this guide. When looking at the work, they should consider its size and scale. Ask them to compare the work with the reproduction they saw in the classroom. Do they see any details now that they did not notice originally? Have their ideas about this work changed? Why or why not? Ask your students to consider the works of art installed near the one they are viewing and draw connections between these works. Why might those works be displayed together?