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West Coast Stories – Southern Californian art in the 1960s and 1970s: Assemblage, Abstraction, Pop and Moving Image

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Courtauld Institute of Art
Vernon Square
Penton Rise
London
WC1X 9EW

5 lectures, beginning 28 April 2020
(5 lectures for £95)


 

The summer term lectures will take us to the West Coast of the USA, and in particular to Southern California – an artistic centre quite apart, in its self-image, its institutions and its cultural roots from the generally better-known art-scene of the East Coast.

We shall focus largely on the 1960s and 1970s, a socially and culturally creative period that saw the explosive development of a hedonistic music and counterculture based on new forms of expression and liberation.  It was, however, also a time ravaged by the divisive war in Vietnam, the suppression of free speech throughout the country and the continued struggle for civil, queer and feminist rights – the latter represented for instance in the progressive California Institute of the Arts’ [CalArts] pioneering Feminist Art Program, and embodied in the collaborative installation Womanhouse by Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and others.

The art emerging from this place and time is among the most exciting produced in America during the 20th century.  Ground-breaking movements and artists emerged, building on and going beyond the characteristic patterns of art-making that were then dominant: the paintings of Sam Francis, for instance, that brought the visual language of abstract expressionism in conversation with that of the rapidly growing culture of psychedelia.  There were also the radical assemblage works of Ed and Nancy Kienholz, whose diorama-like installations presented a dark vision of life on the margins. Ed Ruscha, Peter Saul and other West Coast artists created an idiosyncratic take on Pop art, while the Light and Space movement represented a specifically Southern Californian version of Minimalism.  The Hollywood film industry, of course, loomed large over the Californian scene, and a range of experimental ‘underground’ filmmakers from Kenneth Anger to Chick Strand responded in satirical and deeply personal ways to this cultural dominance.

The summer term lectures will be delivered by Francesca Wilmott, Dr Elizabeth Buhe, and Tom Day.

Info and booking: https://courtauld.ac.uk/learn/short-courses/showcasing-2020/2019-2020-showcasing-art-history-evening-lecture-series


 

The Courtauld is undergoing a major redevelopment project, Courtauld Connects, which will transform our teaching and learning, Gallery and social spaces.

From January 2019, teaching and learning, including Research Forum and Public Programmes classes and events, will be temporarily relocated to our new campus at Vernon Square, Penton Rise, King’s Cross, London WC1X 9EW.
Other departments remain at Somerset House.

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