New York: 1962-1964

“A historical exhibition aims to show us past life, but sometimes the retrospective becomes reflective, a two-way mirror seeing through to the present. So it is with New York 1962–1964 at The Jewish Museum, certainly at the moment our fair city’s most enveloping visual and aural museum experience. With more than 150 works spanning vanguard fine art, outré fashion, cult film, political periodicals, and documentary videos of radical dance and news, the real stars of the show are its wranglers. Selldorf Architects’s contextualized installation design is thrilling. At the entry, the stage is set: we are invited to imagine ourselves within a mural photograph of office workers attired in fitted suits and dresses at the lunch counter—its rear sign announcing a bank of phone booths—then, at a lurid juke box in front of it, to punch in the number of our favorite tune of the era, no coin required. That’s entertainment! And yet, the show may also currently be our most provocative. Mark di Suvero’s weathered wood and steel (Untitled (hungblock) [1962], jazzed with yellow paint) meets stylized wallpaper and a stylish toaster. All evoke cultural and social emancipation from 1950s constrictions. But we must also contextualize our viewing: present social regressions sprinkle more than a speck of salt on this spectacle of exuberant promise. Despite the period’s fracturing over civil rights—Vietnam discord would come later in the decade—continued postwar economic strength and bipartisan alliances allowed the country to power through with confidence in the future. Pop Art leavened Abstract Expressionist sobriety with a witty grasp of the commercial commonplace. Concurrently, the disaffection of LeRoi Jones’s (Amiri Baraka) The Dead Lecturer jostled with Frank O’Hara imagining himself as ‘an angel . . . [going] straight up into the sky’ only to ‘look around and then come down,’ a vantage that takes in both the quotidian and the marvelous (‘Three Airs,’ Lunch Poems). Both books are displayed, albeit behind glass. Too bad the array of small press volumes included here is not also experiential, offering a break from visual stimulation to read through replicas. …”
Brooklyn Rail
NY Times: When ‘New Art’ Made New York the Culture Capital
The Jewish Museum (Video)
YouTube: Exhibition Tour | New York: 1962 – 1964

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Thinking of Him,” 1963; Marjorie Strider’s “Girl with Radish,” 1963; Rosalyn Drexler’s “Self-Portrait,” 1964.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, Happenings, Jazz, Music, Poetry, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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