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not be a targe t, but an ellv.

Art ists of boch sexes sympathcric or

attuned to t he gay sensibility of ]ohns, Rauschenbcrg , an
Warhol havc extended thc rcvolution in media - notably phoro-
graphy and rhc fascination cxcrrcd by mass culture - to questi
of att itu dc and srylc. In much rcccnt work, elements of decora-
tion, srylisti c inconsisrcucy and visual contradiction havc gain
an important place. A ccr tain studicd lack of scriousness, a dclib-l
erate cultivation of dcgrc cs of inco mpctencc and falling-sho
imp udent iIIusionism, and indifferen ce to esrabl shed for m
frameworks bave become vi tal qualities in the besr ar t of t
periodo And rhis developmenr has also had consequences for o
notions of avanr-garde . The que stion for sorne has been wheth
the pl uralism and diversirv implcie in the "rebellion of gender
is really compatible wit h an lristorical concept of avant-garde
Throughout rbe period covered by this book, ir has been said.
no single artistic movement , but rather a free-flcadng and un-
predictable diversity, has been in a position to make c1ai ms up
the high gro und of opposi rion to exisring cultur e.
The image of an ina lienable gulf between con te stato
minori ty cultures and a stable centre is, at any rate, too sunpl
Throughout the history of Modernism - however understood
re1ations bcrwccn thc margins and the centre have bcen dialccti
and constaut ly shiftiug. What has arguably changcd sincc t ~
1970s is not thc cxstcncc of thc avant- gardc, but its obvious an
unproblcmatic visbiliry, 'Ihc rctrcat of political radi calism in t
1970s and 1980" thc pl uralism of visual culture in thc wake
Conccptualism, and [he risc of thc wcll-intcntoncd curator w
was also sympathctc to disscnting forms of culture, havo mad c .
less and [css possiblc to idcntify rhc avant -gar dc wirh a single
of combative individnals or p;roups. Ir has also becomc lcss an
lcss possble to see dissendngcul ture as poitical, and more custom-
ary to applaud it for ics reflecrive and even theoretical qua litics.
'I'hi s latrer shifi has encouraged the growth of a visual culture'
tha t has proved ecouomically efficient as well as philosophcalf
highly challenging. "How can ir be otherwise," Thomas Crow
has argucd, "when discmbodied informadon about thc smallcs
eve nr in a studio in a llrookl yn backsrreet or a Vcncc Bcacs
alleyway can moblizc human energies, financal transfers, an
inrcllect ual attentiou Oll a global scalc? That sort of cultur
levcragc, thc extent of which - in material terms - would havc I
be mcasurcd in multiple orders of magnitudc, is ncw in the world
.. .W ith thcir lo w costs of cnrry and po tcntial Ior cxponcnual
returns, the fine arts sccm closcr in tls respect to comp utee soft
ware, liJe HlOSt potent JiXlll of inlellecl ual properly uf our cm."
14 T rtldit ion <1"'/ A v,mt-C,,,,k
Yet within t ha t fas t -
espanding culture, a dcvcl-
oprnent rhar has begun t o
puzzle co mmeneacors has
been a resurgence of icono-
graphical energy. A striking
cont rast ca n be obse r ved
between Minimalist work
of the and such
peojccrs of che 1990s as those
Gime Polish artist Mirovlaw
Balka (FIG. ). Minimalist 01:>-
jlns could be said in thcru-
selvcs to cxprcss littlc, rcfcr
10 Iiulc, suggc st little; as a
.:2l"gor y of madc objccr thc y
be said lo have bccu
_te and undcclarati vc. At
acco rding to it s carly
seedings, Minimalism rcquircd the prt'senee of rhc vicwcr in an
Drract , ungcndcrcd pcrsonif ication to furu-tion (for good or
iII) in che complet ion of the work. To be in thc presellee 01'
190x 60x l1, 190:x60x l1, on thc other ha nd. is ro be drawn
_o an encounrer wi rh an objecr which is overfl owi ng wirh sig-
..xatiom. lts bed-Iike forma t and scale, che traces of or dinary
scri vit y on it s marble slabs , nnd th e elecrr-i c wires rhar heat
arm, all refer inescapably ro hu man fun ctions xuch as lying,
surviving, establishing a base or home. \'\'hile Mini -
.alises at tempt ed t o uns ettle and reposi ti on che spect at or,
3Jka' s wo rk suggesrs reading s and anecdote s relating ro the
itody and the worl d.
The significance of this difference r nust not be un dcrcsti-
IliUted. 'Ihe typ e of ope n contradiction betwceu forms and
especrarons engineered widely in the late 19Os and early 1970s
will be taken by sorne to provide a kind of standard for the eval-
earon 01' more rcccnr art. Yct rhe insurrcction mouuted by
lIinimal and carly Conceptual art coul d not be rcpcatcd wirh-
OUt chango toda y. What follows fro m that rcalisation ? If any-
mingoir is thar the disscnting spi rt of che }% Os has bccomc
cansformcd, at bcst, inr o a highl y pl ural as wcll as cncrgctic
field of activiry which t urns out to pns scss startlillg philosophi-
cal and theo rer.ical dcp rhs, bur a more conformisr relat ion ro
both its specialisr and general puhlic. Of cour ve, thar assessmcn t
cuts both ways. lt is une tltar occupius the p,lgt' Sof this hook.
]90x6()x Jr, / 9Ux6Ux l l,
1992-93. Terrazzo, sccl,
heang <"bies, and reh, 6'T'
x 23'// x4 /," (190 x 60 x
11cm). Larman Fou- daton,
l os Angeles.
T"ufiti on o1l1d AlJrlm- G.l l"de 15
(hristinaof Swcden, 1972.
5prayl'fl "cryl'c en canvas.

Collectionjanet Bajan,
l-e, Nf'W Mpx'co .
Sc:loptirlg the name uf her
birthplace asher own lo
esabltsh a new iaentity 2 S
.. indcpcndell t wonan
.niSl, ludy Chicago tried in
Crear [adies series, in
-erwcrds. "te r nakc mv
iorm-I,lngu2ge a-d colour
eeveal some:hi'lg really
specirlc about J particular
wornan in historv...the
whole qualily01 a
personalitv." Others inihe
series - 03 11 queens were
\ \aric Antoncttc, Cat'er tne
;he Great, and Victoria.
Alternatives to
the 1970s
he early 1970s was a time when the prospccts for avanr-
gar dc art lookcd rieh indccd throughout the Western
world. Pan icularly for youngcr artists who had been
caught up in thc mood of oppos t on to establi shed culture in
the late 196()s. ir sccmcd t hat the formal virtori es won against
tr udit ional forms of modem painting and sculprurc in rhuse
years hcl d the kcy ro a hosr a l' IlCW philosophical and aestheric
possibilit cs. And ycr by the end of thc dccadc rhc mood was
very differcnt. Not on ly had che social radicalism of the late
1960s and carl y 1970s subsidcd. but a ncw ser of prioritics had
come to occupy centre srage such as to ma kc tha r radicalism
sccm misplaccd, or ar best uropia n.
'I'hc formal end of American involvcmcnr in the Viet nam
War in 1973 and the Watcrga tc scanda l which ended Nixon ' s
prcsidcncy (HG. 8) wcrc quickl v followcd by a series of shorks to
thc internat ional ecoll orny causcd b y oi l-price ris es an d a
scquence of deepeni ng social criscs in housing. wornen's righrs.
the enfranchiscment a l' erhnic and sexual minoritics. as well as in
rclations bctween rhe developcd and thc dcvcloping world.
Widesprcad disenchantmcnr with traditional patriarchal culture
was acco rnpa nied by a pcrccption that the socia l and ar ristic
alrernarivcs of rhc 1960s had not bcen, and eould not be, sus-
tained. Thc mood of thc \Vestern art cnmmuni ty t oward rhc
end al' the 1970s can he dcscribcd as ene of confusi n. A New
York critc, auc mpting to summarise rhe condition of arr at the
cnd al' thc dccadc, cndcd her rccitatinn of thc kcy buzzwo rds of
t he peri od - .\ 1ini malism, Formali sm. P
Miuimali sm. Proce ss art o Sca ncr \Vor
Ean hworks. Conce prualism, BOOy art , Ph
Rcalism - with thc despairng cr y that "a
rhc ear ly 1970s words tail us: rhc glosscry
sol ves. ..rhcrc ar e no mo re terms that re
wor k.' Spcak ing of "schizophrcna." "di,
ation," and "a douhlc bind," sbc senscd t
artists werc vicwing all the tr icd alternatives
onhodox Modernism as cmpry, ovcr-uscd.
haustcd. at t hc sanu- rime f..-ding unccrtain where 'h
' ro go.
Bcr wccn rhe perc epri on of hope and [he ex pcricnce
exhausticn lay an expanse of artistic cxpcri mcnr. Aucmpts w
ruede rhrough cm thc dccade to propagare and extcnd an ea
radicalism at a time when rhe pull of the wider cult ure was 0 -
in a comrary direcr ion.
Of all the major n-alignmenrs in vi sual cult ure of rhe last rw
or so }'t'ars, pcrhaps the most significan r has resul ted from a
rained rcflccti on on quesdon s of gcndcr. In rhe carly 197<k
cri sis of confidencc in rr aditio nal male cult ur e was dcep
alllong women ertisrs allied tu fcmnism in any of i r ~ then
rcnt variarions. Prefigured by \Vest Coast ar tists of the 1
cuch as Miri am Schapiro and judy Chicago. wo rncn's gro
had also bccn act ive in New York, wherc a group known
Women Artisrs in Rcvolu tion (WAR) had in 1969 growll Out
the wider Art Wor kcrs' Coalirion (A\ll C) . It was followcd
The Womcn's Art Committec (WAC) , founded in 1970.
cri ric Lucy Lippard and the black artisr Faith Ringgold prote,
rhar rh c W hi tncy An nual ex hibi t ions dis cr iminat cd agai
women; they and ot hers took sh' ps l o organ isc rheir OWIl sho
and TUn their own gallerics.
Against t h i ~ background , a number uf kcy cri ti cal id
about women'v art emerged in public in 1971 wi th rhc publi
rion of Linda Nochlin's essay, "Why Havc Thcrc Becn No G
Women Art isrs?" in A rt Nt ll's, and Luey Lippard' s catalogue
the sho\\", 26 C"'lempt.lrary U'omeu Artist5, of whi ch she was
cura t ur f O f th e Aldrich .\l useum in Connect icut. Noch
addressl.. d t he rnuch-deball:-d question of whct her thl'r e wa
distinctive jtmil/il/e sensihility or cssence in wom('n ' s art o
argued forci bly Ihar t1ll'rc was noto Ilor was there likcly to
Sin' agrccd fha r diere wl..' re no "grea t" ,,"omen arri st s in
8. Presoenr l\'i 'l.Qf1 in h i ~
wbe House ortice inApril
1974, surrolluded by
cvidenu' offercd in 'iUppurt
oi his dairntbat he was not
iuvolvffi in luvcring up an
iilegal break-inallhe
WJletgille (,1mpaign
headqu.ntcrs in 1972. He
sulJ!.cqueollll rhigned ava
resdl of public preswre.
lH A llu rrali,'1"S lO '\/" '/1'''';511I: 111t, 19705
mou1d of Michelangelo or Manet , but suggcstcd that thc rcasons
by in male- dominated educacional and nstirutional structurcs
rha r supprcsscd womcn' s talc nts. lndccd, sin ce conccpts of
"geni os," "mastery," and "talent" liad bcen dcvised by mcn ro
apply to rueu, ir was remarkablc that womcn had achieved as
moch as thcy hado
Lippard's approac h to the ques t on was almost rhc exact
eppositc. "1 havc no clcar picturc of what, if anytbing, cons ri-
roles 'womcn's art ' " she wrote. "although I am convinccd rhat
mere is a latcnr dffcrcncc in sensibilit y.. .I have bcard sugges-
do ns thar the common fact or is a vag ue ' carthincss,' 'organic
images,' 'curved line s' and. most convi ncingl y. a ccnrra liscd
"Ccncralsed fccus" was a term dcviscd by lile Wc sr Coasr
ar tis t Judy Chicag c , wbo in hcr wor ks o f t he ca rl y 1970s
explcrcd the symbolic mcann gs availa bl c wi thi n (as well as
eaboos agaiust) the forms of rhc vagina (scc HG. 7). Rcfcrring to
Goorgia O'KedTc' s carly cffons to illurninatc thc darkncssc s of
fema1c identit y, Lippard wrotc rhat "t hcrc is now cvidcncc tha t
many women artists havc dcfincd a central orfice whose formal
eegani sarion is oft cn a mctaphor for a woman' s bod y.' By 1973
Lippard had idcnri fi cd a more generalis cd rauge of femalc
bnagcr y, comprising "a un ify ing denvit y. an overal l texture.
cen scnsuously ractile and often repetitive ro thc point of obscs-
Don; t he preponderance of circ ular fo rms an d ce ntral focu s
[sometitncs conrradictin g the first aspect }; a ubiqutcus linear
'bag' or paraholic (mm that rurns in on irsclf layers. or strara: an
indefinahle loosencss or flexibi liry of hand ling; a new fondncss
for the pinks ami pastels and rhc ephemeral cloud-colours that
medto he rahoo."
The criric Lawrencc Alloway, srrongly rcfuri ng rhc idea
mal womcu's art could he defined in relation to ancient symbol-
ism or ritual, offcrcd [he mildly patronising suggestion tha t "a
plerhora of soft sculpture, fetishes and simulatcd shclter s is gell-
erarionally rarher than scxually auribucable. Such work is largcly
produccd by young artists motivated by an opmisric bclicf in a
eon-specialiscd technology and a primi tivisr ideal that wc can
Hve on out personal rc sourccs." Thc objcct ion was surcl y
addresscd in part !O (he wo rk of the California-based artist
Lynda Benglis, whose pigmented and moulded foam pieces
iittt1led dcsigned to contest the appcarance al' mal e-dominafed
:\linimalism, wirh itri mlllti ple tl'chnological and mathematical
references. Benglis hersclf, howevcr, continue d to feel under-
ttpresent ed in an art s),stcm run predominanti)' by men; in a
A llernalile,( lo jUodl'rfIm: l ile 1 9 7 n . ~ 19
9_ Bt NCllS
Invitation o an C'Jlh ioifional
thoPJulJ Ccoper C;ll1ery,
New York, 4-19 MdY1974
PhologrJ ph by Annit'
Lebowltz .
n orori ous uf 1974 sbe e
fr omed rhi s "mal c" crbos by taki
out advertiscmm ts for hcr own w
in wbieh she parodicd lIl C"Il ' S vicw
womcn. pming as a pin-up (HG. 9)
in the final advert . wcaring not .
but sunglasscs and a gi<lut larex dil
Simulrancoudy with rhese
scarchcs inro a wo me n' s acsthctic
rcsca rc hcs whi ch conrinucd t u
dcvclopcd nnd dcba tcd thro ugh
19705 - a di versiry of othcr wo!UC1Ii
art act viry reflcctcd on thc bcdy,
on dffcr ences betwccn malc a
fema le. Phot o- pi ecev cxploring
d er and i dcn rir v by art ist s such
Martha Wi lson, Ri ta Mycrs, a
Keny La Rocca. for instance, e
trastcd fc rmally and matcrjally wi
IIIl" hard tcchnologi cal Mini mal ism
Donald J udd and Carl "odre. A _.
of homagc to rhe pioneering tradi .
uf fr agi l c floor- or wall -pi cc
Iannched by En Hcsse (\VIl() di
pn-marur cl y from cncer i n 1970)
jllusn-arcd by Rosemarv Castor
l' p O<)' . fibrcglass an d su-el installarion-sculprure. Symplltlll Y.
1974 (FlG. 10). It "isal so suggl' sliw of ph ysica1mcvement and
orgauic body. Severa! of Casroro's plcccs refer ro the magcry
dance: , he studied choreography and worked 0 11 orrasion wi
tln' experimental dance- ami film- makcr, Yvonnc Rainer. S
workvshowcd no r merely rhc latent vit aliry ro be found in
crodox matcrials and ccmbinanons. but thar rhe rend ency
Amer ican mal c aestherics tu de ny rhc body aud it s refercn
was by no mcanv universalsablc .
Such Il CW art by American womcn cf thc carly 1970s
signi fi can t for mal1Y reavons. Ir co nsrit urcd rhc fi rsr ph asc
comrnit tcd philosophcal engagcmcnt by femalc ar rists \\ .
qucsrions of how fcminism could be cmbodc d in arr , and
took t1p rbe i SSUl' of bow womcn could use rbc bodv er
irnage te explore fe-ma1c identitv without invieiug the accusari
rhat th cy we re playi ng Up OIl the ver )' kinds of voyeuris -
responses thar for other rcason s thcy wanted to prcclude. e
laboraric n s ami disc us sionv among women anj<.[s were ar t
20 Ahematives to ,\loda uislII: ,llr 19705
~ rime bcginning to permeat e th e instiru tional framcworks
education, cxhibition, and the und erstandi ng and criticism of
~ Proj ects such as Womauhouse al the California Instituto of
.. Ans in 1971 and 1972 (a vese enviroumenral sculptu re madc
md for womcn] or thc 1973 New Yor k Cultural Ceutcr cxhi-
-mn. Foil/m Ckoosc -FOIIIC/1, or the founding of Heresies mag-
.-r in Ncw York (planned from 1975 and frsr publshed early
ffi7) cou1d be takcn as suggesting rhar art could gcr along
. n ~ ' wit hout mcn . Art-historical rcvisicns such as Carol Dun-
.ca"s essa)', "Virili ty and Dominat ion in Ear ly 20th-Cenrury
~ r d Painting. ' publ ishcd in Arifomllf late in 1973, drecred
...e of murh-n ccdcd sccp ucsm al a still-resistant malc avnnt -
;-de establishment . A suggcstion underlvi ng these dcvclop-
-.E:IltS was thar advanccd, critica! work in cult ure needed ro con-
ni it sclf with qu csuous of gcndcr and wirh rhe ide ological
JIbtiom of gcnder to poliucs and art-worl d powcr .
.\ similar suggestion was raiscd by forms uf art produccd by
\merican wo men which introduccd variarions on thc tcndcncy
. male Minimalist art tu involvc thc vicwcr in a sct of rcflcr tivc
Jdacionships lo rhe art- wor k, Divcrting aucndon away from thc
s;:-wor k as an invitation lo philosophical speculat ion to ene of
i*ysical and human emparhy. thc car ly work of thc Bclgiau
zrist Marie-Jo l .afoutainc, whu subscqucntly workcd in video,
painring, and installat ion. took thc coit on of canvas hcfor c ir
-.s wo vcn ami dyed it hlack. Once wovcn bar-k inro material
.ad hung as a series of monochromc canvases. [he works stood as
.111 eloquc nt test imony to womcn "s cra fr , t o rcpc ritivc and
edausting !abour (the anist' s own), yct to an ollgoing rcfusal to
SymphrJllY, ]Q74.
Pigrncntcd cpcxv and
b.egtass oversrvroroam
dIal ,led roo" 6'4 x 9' );
21' (1.9 x 3.2 x 8.4 m).
A uerna tioes lo '\Jodcrnism: /11/: 19705 21

11. ,\.Wm Jo l -VO.-'TAlM

Monochmme Noir, 1977.
W()\.t-' n cotton. (,' 6
x (,'6
(2 x 2 m).
adorn a prc-cxisring surfacc wi rh compo
fonns (FlG. 11 ). In Amrica, Jackie W im
incorporarcd labour-inrcnsive rcpcrition-,
hinding. ryillg. oc nailing. and using tujnej
ropc , and cut rrees, rd l t'cting hcr childh
un the blcak Newfoundland coast. \\,' imOT"
cla borarel y made hox es of rhc mid-197
whi ch display a fon dncs s (oc dcra il lI'i,hin
upml the cube, providc an elcganr insrauce
a fcminine variation on , and challcnge ro.
dominanr malc aesthcric (HG. 12).
Orbcr women artists went dircctly lo t
land. Alce Aycock took rhe forms of Mi
malis m inr u oc undcr the ground sur fac
buildi ng cave s and subtcr rancan structur
whlch could be interprct cd as mctap hors fi
secki ng, intcriority. Uf for an aravisric. sdf.
burying impulse. Mar)' Miss' s Untitlcd ncc
siratcd a laboriou s journey ro vie w it on
vacant Iandfill along thc Hu dsou Ri ver i
Nc w York Cit y, but l O l.ippard ir g,l\' e riw
a 'hlank and "vaguely disappointing" expcri
cnce until its cvcr more deepl y buricd ri rcle
wcre aligncd (HG, 13). TI1l' bctween rhc planks of L'"til1
wcre scalcd by black tar, whose linos cchoed the str ucturc of the
cmpt y lan dscapc. BUI or herwi sc rbc planks are unir a fal se
faradc. " If certain picces takc 011 a gcomctrical aspccr." t1H' artist
'iai.d, C4l.'f,C{ te {ebut any association wirh Minimalicm, "it i , nOI
from any imcresr in rhis particular for moThough tuerc l-' . a "cr,
t e tn )' sculpturc, the desircd rcsuh is nor to make
an ()'n)'CC\:'
Howevcr. although American women's art oi t' l Ce<l-l\;; . vo
mid-1970s cu t across rhc rcnsions betWf"('1I Modemist fonnahsm
ami thl' ant i- formalislll of Minmalisr arr - arr form-,
and criticaUy fou ght over by men - for rnanv rhc Issm'
was nevcr en e of ronrcsring thc rules of pracnce on tbc samc
theorctical rerrircry as men o .
Furthcr, only a mi nority of radical arnso was much
. . d bv i\.-\arxism - that politica l affiliarc of the avant-gardc
cxercsc , lat i hi h Ih
_ ""hose tr adition al on the re almllS .Ip c- lwecu c
means of prod ucti on and formatiol\ of sOCI al dass
1 k
" lau , fc-minist com"ents. Ln the \\ords of
largd y to o\"cr 00 or,., .. , .. .
. . I .' c -'lela l)ollock ",he n a lUH' of StlCU"Ucs Itl WhlCh
t1lt' Bn m 1 (TI lle ,n\{ l' ti ' t ti .r
3rt ha s bCf'll prndll("Cd has bCt' ll not onl y.. .lf'll( a or eapl a "
22 , 1Iru u,fi vt'J M \fll da fl i sIn: flr!' 19705
Alternati ocs to .U"Jt m ism: the 1970.. 23
Heluw 1J. M-\RYMIss
Untitlcd, 197J . wcoo. 6'
12' n .8 x 1.0 m) "f'rtions
SO' n7,5 m) inrervals.
Llanf'ry Park. :-':ew York City.
Ihe holt><. of Untned
"e)(parld into an lrrererse
interiOf space," wroIe!he
criric l ucyLipcerd "Ii.,,,, a
h.J1I o mirrors or a column
otaif descend ing inlo the
are drawn into
its central tocos. \'our
... e aggrandislng
11 k111iGIlly."
Ccesnxted by a pccess ot
rw.iJing thin stripsc:i \ \ uOO to
l"Mh otht>r, Winsor"s beses
roetain illlto-biographical
rett'fffilt"> lo
in tbe oi hef
iarhPr. Such"human"
reil"lCOCes were anatberna to
rbemal",lItinimali<ts, whcN>
concem with goomell)' drld
rcpetitionrbese wceks
ne\'ertheless share.
l pft r1. JN:Klf \<\'IN5Of(
FitiyFi{fv. 197.') . wood ,1Ild
l1<l ils, JT )( 3'4"' )( 3'4
tl .1 )( 1.1 x 1.1 m}. Prvate
conecuoo, :-':ewYork.
:;,ut patriarchal and sexist ." \Vhat was requir ed wa s a bindi ng
of feminism with reformulatcdMarx ist concems.
A sccond difficulr v for fcminists coucemed the \"ery concepr
... "avenr- gardc," whcse rradiriou of uropian or revolu rionary
dllought sccmcd ro imply thc adoprion of an "outsider" position
IOnt wbi ch ro mount an assault 011 rradir ional bases of power
..d class. Not onl y had ths posi-
Don bccn occupicd siuce in origins
.. Roman d ci sm largel y by mcu.
bot feminish pointcd 10 t he
b.el rhar womcn had al ways bccn
uul, jdcn <l n )"way. 11" anyt hing, they
eeed cd ro a powcrful pc si-
tion wi thin che mainst rcam.
The rcsourccs 01" Conceptual
a't. e.pcciall y photography. helpcd
rhe m tu es ta bl isb t har posuion .
. Mart ha Ros\er' s ca rhcst
_orl<. using photographv was a
series o f coll :a ges which mi xcd
8n3ges of rhe Vietnam War with
uncons c iou$
b id out
out o f l he pl c tur e
ou t 11kc .. light

14. ,\ t...RllV.
Tbe nIVel)': in two
illdut'l./lJdle dc:;criptil'c
svstems, (detall sbowing
11'.'0 phmographq, 197475.
Portv-flvc bleck-end-wbre
Theartist has saidthat -tbe
pilotO'; here are radical
mMonyrny, witha settiog
-mplying thecoooition [of
impoverishffif' nl isa scbject
here, t is morecentrally
me impoverishment oi
tot.ering about alooe tha-r
lha l oi ancoe oi

American domcsdc scenes of the same rime. Called Brillxinx
War Heme: Honsc Bealllifu/ (1967-72), they appeared in the al
nativc art prcss in the cerly 19705, and were Rosler' s
the di staucc csta blsb cd by I1C\\' 5 reporring in t (r/.' and ot
mainstream publcations from the personal responsibiliry (
rondi tions uf response) of viewers at home.
In a series cnti tlcd Tie n OIl' CT}' : n t il'O iUild'qllat' descr
sys/r tllS (1974-75), Roslcr rook diffcrcnt repr cscntarions aimed
capruring the rcalit y of drunk s living 00 che srreen of lo
Manhartan and placcd them ncxt to, and made them critica!
cach orher. TI/l' BOll' 'f) ' can he secn as a work which follo
thl' st ructuralist thinking of rhc Prcnch aruhro pcl ogist Cla
Lvi- Strauss. Like srrucr urali sr analvsis in orher ficlds, it so
t O shift the viewer ' s attention from the thing rcprcscnred ro
rcpresenrarional syslems rhcmsclves. Each panel pair show
phorographic record of a dcrelicr Bowery srorcfronr next t
lcxicon of terms used lo describe incbriation (F1G. 14). Pie '
her work againse what shc saw as the "victim phorography"
docnmentary joumalism, which "insists 00 thc tangible r
of generalised povert y and dcspair,' but in which che "vicrin
rhe camera - tha r is, of the phorographer - are oft: en doci
Rosler located the probl cm of social deprivariou within thc
irics of representation itself In hcr own account :
The words begin oursidc the world of skid row and slidc
int o it. as people are tho ught to slidc into alcoholsru and
skid lo the hottom of thc row....[The projccr is] a work
of refusal. It is nor defiant ami humanism. It is mcam as
an acr of criricism: rhc text )'ou are rcading now ruus 0 11
the parallel track ofanothcr descript ivo sysrem. 111e[(" are
no stolt'n images [uf dronksJ... what couJd you leam from
them tbat rou didn't kllOw?
24 Alttrlll1rh'/:5 to !. loJtrtl,n: thr 19705
Camparabll' inrellccrual mot ives can be sccn at work in the
........ert PMf ParlUllr D(I(lllllf'llt (197.1,-78) by t hc British an isr
ellv. Kelly'e D<lfrl lUf ll l (nc. 15) depicn thc r car i ng of a
cWd by peri odicallv rcproduci ng his bodil y imprint ou
of marn-r. (m m dia pers m wriring paper ; ir also
.a ,3 record of thc mollwr \ anxieriev ahou r her son. and a
of hcr diary rhat n-cords her acriviriev as an artivr in rcla-
eo her role as mor hcr. Severa! kind-, of di ccourve around rhc
child's acrivities are rcpn-scnted in parti cula r typefa r cc,
,;: - y arra nged bor h ro be read and for t hcir visual effcrt :
Kdly called rhe "srri pro- visual" manner. Nor 0111y was rhe
__.Q;JUUtc ropic uf Documcnt ground-brea kin g, hUI in (mm an d
rical basis arguably o ursrripped anyrhi ng pr evio uvly
n d by a Eur opcan fcrninist artivt . Th... larger philocophical
_nnce of rhe O l l (lIllU' 1lI lies in rs arrempr to fuce two pcr-
of fernale subjectivity, one derivcd from rbe wrilingo> of
15. .,.v,y KELLY
Poa-Part um I )()('Ul'rn'nt .

Mixed media, 28 units. eecb
14 x 11" D5. )( 2ll cm. An
Galleryoi Oourio, Cariada.
Alfrfllalivn lo .Uodrm ism: the 1'17Us 25
Performance art by it s naturc - bot h by women ami men -
vided further examples during thc 1970s 01' how fcmnst
other "radical" contenr could be embodicd in alu-rnarivc fo
and media. Deriving at sorne distance from Dada, alterna '
theatr e and the "happcnings" movement of the 196Os, perf
manee art resisted bci ng trea red as a commodity (it could be
ther bought nor sold), while replacing the normal material,
art with nothng more, nor less, than the art ist's own body.
formance art throughout the later 1960s and 1970s at rracred s
but influennal art -world audi ences and con rinues to reso
vividly boch in recollection, in pho to-documentarion, and in
eye- witness account . In hindsigbe certain projecrs - signifi
too for purp oses of comparsou beeween America n and Eu
pean for ms - stand out as exemplary.
lt was immcdiatcly clear ro Lucy Lippard, for exampl e, t
Europcan body and performance art had different characteris .
fro m that of the Amcricans. Mo re abrasive, more physica
challenging, more dangcrously sired in relation to issues of pai
wound ing, r ape. alld disease rhan t he relatively cel ebr ato
North American work, European body ar t seemed to eontain
poinlcn to the different social and philosophieal traditions - and
rher (()Htemporary erises - on the two continents.
in the Un\teu States, Carolee Sdmeema nn c,ontlnued t h ~
vein of 'Performance\ ~ h c Jad bcgun as ea-dy as 1963, invol'iing
Perjormance Art
16 . lROLH SCH",EEMAN.",
Interior Servil, 1975.
Freud (on narcissism) , the other from Lacan (011 Preud). It
also intcndcd as a commenrary on the sreps through which.:
Kclly put it , "maternal ' Icmnini ry' is const ructed with in
mo thcr-child rclationship" and the process by which the iden .
of a child is gradually formed through cngagcmenr with,
eventual cntr y int o, rhc symbolic arder which is language.
Thc rwo laucr prcjcccs suggest that American women' s
in thc Conccptualst vein tended in the 1970s ro tbe erupi -
rhe positivist. and th c descriptivo. whilc European work t
to the psychoanal yticall y bascd, the pr vat e, and che subj
Howcver, both Ros lcr and Kell y rcprcscnt positons of po\\'
theoretical cngagcrncnt withi n a ficld of alternativo practico
was widel y pcrcci vcd as "a van r-gardc." In offeri ng topics
modes of rcprcscntat ion tha t contened thc conccms of thc
archy, hoth <:a11 be sccn as having forgcd a kind of uni on bctv..
sexual pol iuc, ami visual culture at a time whcn the ir pos
r-onnections had not yet been undcrstood.
IlIteriorSoofl I"VilSfi rst
pertormedin 1975 berore
an audence of wornen
artists on Long lsland. 'Tbe
readngwas done on topo
the tablc, taking a series01
lile model 'artion poses:
IIw bookbalanced inone
hand," said Schnccmann.
"Al the condusion I
dropped the bockand stood
upnght on tbe tahle. The
s[I"oll was slowlyextracted
as I rcad from it, inch bv
'2.6 AttcfIIlllives to Moncrnism: ttw. 1 9 1 { ) ~
6r bol )" as a symbol aud a rcsourr r- . In ha lnter er SmJII of 1975
(Rr.. 16) sbe used hcr body as a "stripped-down , undccorated,
-..nanobjcct ." As Schnccmann put ir. " I approachcd tbe rablc
and carrying t wo shccrs. 1 undressed, wrapped mysclfn
__ sheet, epread rhe oeher une the tahlc and rold rhc audience
I ould read fmm Ct::",UU', Slle lI'as <l Grj'Q( PailUFr [a fcminist
axt writtcn hy rhe arrsr in 1974). I droppcd thc covcring shcer
-. standing there paint ed large srrokcs dcfining thc conrours of
body and facc." The perfor mance culminatcd in hcr rx'ad ing:
11 setecrio of tcxr s ser-rered in hcr vagi na. Th c idea of int er ior
wlcdge sccmcd ro Schneeruann "t o have lo do wi t h !fU'
-er and poecsvion uf naming - the movcmcnt tW IIl interior
-.ought to cxrcrnal signitk ation, and rhc rcfcrcncc te an unrcil -
wrpcne. ro act ual informari on [like a rickcr tape. torah in thc
.... chalice, rhoir 10ft. plumb line, bell rowcr. rhe umbilicus and
Th e !:lI.lI.i)' bccomcs (he source of self-knowlcdgc aud
. " l assumed," yp Schneemann. "rhar rhe carved figurines
-.1 incised fema lc chapes of Paleolr hc. :\1esoli(hie artcfacrs
-..n- carved by WOIJ1l'n... thar the expcrience and complexi ty of
personal body was the sourcc uf conccprualsng or interar t-
-;: wit h mat er ial v, of imagining rhe world and composing es

Kuns( Kick, 19 lune 1974.
r'eonrrrunce al the Baste Art
Fair, SwitLcrland.
In Europe. by contrast, a gcndcrcd Conccp tualism in whi
rhe arri sr "per for me d" pos lUrcs and auirudcs in front of t
camera had produced photo-picccs on scxuali ty by artists Ji
Un Lrbi (Vi enna) and Karhcri na Sicv cnlin g (D sscld or
Annctte Messager (Paris) and Rcnat c \'I/cJ (Gcrmany). Film a
video work by Ulrickc R oscnbach (Gc r mauy } and Ma ri
Abramovic (Yugoslavia) hall extended th c gcnrc ro movi
images, rhe latter inviti ng phy si cal dangcr in a pi cce th
invol vcd tbc artist rccording her ami hcr audicncc's rcactc ns
she swallowed pil ls designed to cure schi zoph rcnia. Rcbcc
I 10m's films of thc mi d-1970s, such as Drl'ami,,& Under fVar
(1975) , featurcd tor turc-likc eontraptions arrachcd ro the bcdy
elo ngared fingcr s. hcad-dresves, cagcs and ha rnc sscs - whi
wcrc mcn aci ngly sadisticaud tender at the samc lime.
In Amer ice, Ch ris Rurden in Ca lifornia stands out amo
rnale arti sts artcnding to the vulnera ble or mortal body (includ-
ing Vito Acconci, Der mis Oppcnheim. or Barry Le Va) , by i
corpornting something of thc dan--dcvil or fronti crsman into mj
work , Followin g a performance in l 'n! in which an inrcnd
grazing by sboonng result cd. acciden rally in a real wound. Bur
den con tinucd in thc mid-l970s to place himsclf in situations
r eal danger, rhough of an incrca....
ing! y lcss harro wing sort . The docu-
mcntatiun of Burdcn's pcrforman
Kunst Kirk at thc 1974 Baslc Art Fa'
(FIG. 17) rcads: "A l rhc public apeo-
in g [uf t hc Art Fai r ] . . . al t wclv
noo n, I laid down al thc top of ( W
flights of stai rs in rhc Mustcrmcs
Charle, Hill rcpca tcdly kieked m
hod y down thc stair s, two or 11m
st eps at a t ime." Thc dcscriprioa
irself suggests how the artist rcduc
himself ro a body to be viola rcd b
stress or mi streat mcnt , induci ng
tension bet ween g uilt and dis cngagemen r in hi s sma ll )'r
voyc uristic audicnccs. Burdcn' s dcad- pan tone <l iso ind icales
leve! of irony or pscndo- scicncc in rhc project , and might be sai:
!o parad)' the reificati on a l' pcrson s in advanccd tcchllol ogi Cdli
Bnrd en' s principal male counterpa r r In Europc vince the
time of the Vienna "Acrionists" - a group inn-resn-d in body-rir-
ual includi ng Hermann Ntsch. Gntcr Brus, Arnulf Rainc r, and
Valie Exporr - has heen rhe Englishman, Stuart Brisley. In the
Allenlat' ( s lo Modernlsm: the 1970s
_ _ _ _______ _ .....:Ia
18. STlJNl.T
Survivdl inAlif.'fl
Cirrurm/ilnces, with
C;'r:stophpr Cof'ficke, 1977.
PerOfITldncCdr Oor:umcr:t.l
6, Kassel , Germary .
fV{'f toc1ilopldYS of
r:onspicuous wese, Brisley
mosod nis performance
from t he centre oi Kas<.el on
heanngof rhe projcc t uf ihe
American Conceptcal artist,
waher de M,lri a, lo dril!a
hole 1 kilomctrc dccp in
the Friedricnsplatl at the
alleged CO'>I lo c111 American
sponsor o f lOO,OCIO
1$300,000). Brislev is seen
he> at worl< wilh his yoong
Cernan collaborator,
ChristophJ>r Gericke.
. m os Brisley devclopcd forms of ext ended ritual with thc
e mar cngagcd issues of POWCf versus aut onomy, control ser-
r freedom. cousumprion I' dcnial. In Te" Days, first Pvt-
.-.ed in Bcrlin in 1972 and rhcn in London in 1978, rbe art ist
e sed food for [en days over ebc Chri srmas period whilc
) ..mmgthe mcals ri tually SC[1;ro ro him slowly ror . In SlllVivaf
Alirn Crcumstances (AG. 18), pcrformed a l rhe arr fair, [)v(I/-
r ..., 6. in Kaec l in 1977, he dug a hole 6 feer (2 m) deep in a
e whcrc he cncount ered rubblc, bones from human war
1 Wrims, and dank water. At rhe honoro of rhe hole Bri sley built
J ecoden structure in which he lived alonc for a fort night.
TIte rnost comrovcrcial case of a fcmalc body artist perform-
a in extrems was thar of Ci na Palie in Paris. From 1968 for thc
t lIfS{ pan of a dccadc Pane used hcr body as the sitc of hcr art :
a -=-ri ng ami orhcrwi sc torrur ing body parts iu fronr of an audi-
:1 eKr and rhe carnera ( t'IC,. 19). As shc wmtc at thc time. "to livc
1 body signi fies di scoveri ng one' s wcakncss. rhc rragic and
llitiJess servi rude of irs limira rions. of irs wcar and rcar and its
e pRC2liousness; signifl es becomin g aware ofits phanrasm-, which
ac Done other (han (he reflecrion of myths crea ted by scciety: a
:1 IDcict )' thar cannot accept the bn.?;uage of the body without
e zaaing. bccause it doesn't fir into the auromarism OCCl"'S'lr)' 10
Altematurs ro Modcrnsm: the 1970s 29
19. G I\, '\ PA'I E
Psychc, 24 [anuarv 1974.
Perforruoce al file Calerie
St adler, Pars.
rhc func tioning of irs systcm." "Thc wouud is rbc memory
rhc body." shc latcr wrot e: "ir was impo-sible for me to rccon-
str uct an imagc of [he body wit hour the flcsh bcing presen
wi rhcut it bcing placed fronrally, without veilv and mcdiarions.
Panc uscd rhc photogr aph a, a wi tncsc and as a "l ogical sup porr "
for thc body in its self-intli cted rravails. "Ir can gl.lSp rhc hca
of rhat dial ect ir- through which a hchaviour bccomcs signifi ca
by becoming communica hle for a community.'
By thc mid- 1970s rhc ahsetu-e of a sharcd agenda of radi
protcst wi thin thc \x" estern arr community bad caused the linkJI
het wecn Europea n and Amer ican art ro gro w thin. Symptomneie
of a desire to addrecs this cstrangcmcnt was che re-entrv into th
Nc w York art world in May 1974 of thc Germen artist , j osepb
Bcuyv. Bcuys was alrcady kn own for his invol vement in the
iconoc lastc Fluxus 1Il 0 V Cl11en t , and bad a rcp utation in t he
Unitcd Statcs for his charismatic tcaching and his shnmanic per-
for mances. He had givcn a spcaking performance in a Ne\VYork
gallery in j anuar y of rhat year. developing his message of the
need for conscious crcarivit y in a11 human beings, and the neccs-
sity to cransccnd social conditioning . On his second visir, he gave
a thrcc-day perfor mance at rhe Ren Block Gallery in Sol lo en-
ri tl cd 1 Like Americil ilud A mericil Lik es Me (HG. 20). Bcuys
30 A llfrnal-' o lo ,\ J(J,fernislI1; t ir e 1970s
_"'Wa r ile ofhay, rwo lengths of felr, a flasblght, a par of
.. musical mangl e, 50 copies of thc Wall Stree JO/mM/
daily), and a hookcd walking-sti ck which he uscd ro
_ signal ro a coyote, 0 11 hire from an animal farm in
Beuyv was transpon ed ro the gallcry drccrly from
fI-r. wrappcd up all the while in a rype of [eh similar ro
wiIidt had savcd him after crash-Ianding as a war-tiruc pilot .
. ' for rhrcc days he struck tbc rriangle as a signa! for a
..........ceding of latid engine noisc to begin, rhcn cxcit cd rhc
br throwing hi s gloves at it. He wrapped himself again in
wh ch "covered everything but rhe tOp of bis hat , t o
a muffl ed piece of human sculpture. His walkiug-stck,
.....-d like a shepherd's staff pcriscopcd from rhc tap of rhc
ile a dousiug rod ro tune in OH the coyore's spirit. Beuys
and t ur ned ac cordi ng t o t he action s of che coyo te ,
..nipped and tugged at rhe edges of the felt. Beuys passed
......,gh a series of ch osen posi t ion-, as if in stow-moton salaam
dIr anima l: when he reached flo or level , he lay down, still
covcrcd." 'Lhis eycwi tncss rcport adc q uatcly eOllveys how
E-opean artist could convey thc uo rion o f a wild and o ri gin al
that tcchnological and capitali sr Amrica was accuscd
to dcstroy.
f Conccpt ually, too . such works wcrc built upo n ra di ca l
ises. Like oth er performanc e artists 0 0 bot h comincnts,
aimc d ro l ransform thc anisric produce frum a markctahlc
o f cxch angc ro a sct of act o ns co ns isti ng cntircly of thc
20 . jOS[f'l 1Bwys
Likc Arom snd Am('ric,l
Like.,vle,l Y?4.
Performance at thc Rcn
BlockCallel)', NewYork.
l o Beuys the presence oi
thc coyote pointcd to
Native Anwricans' hi\tory
or persecution, a, well{l, to
'the whole relationship
berween the United Sures
and Europc." "1wanted to
concentrare oolv on the
coyote. I wanted to isolate
mvsclf insulatemy,cli, scc
nOl hing01America other
th{lll the coyote...and
exchange roles with it.'
A llrn lllli,'c; /(1 Modem ssn: tie 1970s 31
labour of the arrist. Nei thcr thca trc nor sculprurc nor real
such events dr amatiscd ne w and important paradox in
of (he arri sr an ackin g rhe dominanr insururous of
power in t he space oc. and wi th thc qualifi cd compli
rhose insrit uti on s rhernselvcs. Thc paradox of mu tua]
dencv of rhe subvervive artist and th c csrablished art S)' S(
rinued rhrou ghour t he 1 9 7 0 ~ to be a sourcc of heat ed
arnong rhose who saw rbem-clvcv as car ricrs of a poli
avanr-garde rradirion.
TIJe T rials of Conceptualism
In rhe face of a new willingne in the muvcums and gall
accommodare radica} art - fcmini u , performance. and
rual ar r of many kinds - th c dil crn ma, parti cul arl y fi
younger art ists who wcn- intcn-srcd in the avant-gardc tra
was to discover how ami in wha t (mm such dissentiug g
could be developed.
We have men rioned thc mount ing pres\urc frcm fe
on borh sides of rhe Atlanti c to aban don a polines of d a
po wer for one of gendt' r ami power. even a polirics of place
identiry. '\1asculine radicalism bascd on aspecrs of Conce
ism soon became endan gered by the fact thar museums a
commercial art world tbemselves became converred cnrh
cally to irs cause. Th e short-lived but important srnall
tion joumal The Fox, published in New York by an otTsh
rhc English Conceptual art group Art and Langua ge, pro
the rhcrorica l sryle of a self- do ubti ng Cooceptualism
rowards me limi ts of an increasingly frusrratcd Mar xisr a
of anoThe Fax rrenchanrly analysed the dilemma wbereby
thc most radical act iviry tended evenrually ro be made sub'
capitalsr appropriarion and rhe concomitanr wor kings of
powcr. Somc mcmbcrs of this grouping SOOI1 lef rhe ficld
altogcthcr to wo rk in cducarion or grass-roots poli n es:
werc soon to rcasscmble in Grecr Britain ro pursut' rhe
practico of, surpri sngly, panting.
Othcr radi cal male an ists who had come of age in the
196(h also had to face tbe unwelcome realiry rhat revol ud
commitmenr in Wcstcm socery was fadin g fastoand rhar w
out that essenrial backd rop thcy faced real dilemmas of how
contine. Suchanartist was Gordon Matta- Clark, who in
-72 had discrectlv violat ed actual bu ilding s, desrabili sing t
by curting out paud s or whole waUs, hence making v i ~ i d
awareness ofinncr-<iry depri \"3tion. Until bi s earl)' dearh IR
32 Alttrllalil'tS lO nl m: rlit 1970-,
21, GORDO,,. MAn ..-CLARK
Splitting (in
1914. Cibachrone, 3'6
j." x
/." (1.1 x 0.8 m). Privare
After visiling thehou-,e, !he
artst Alicc Aycock rccallcd
"startmg al rbe bottomof
thcstairswhere rhe crack
,vas srnall. vou'd
kepr wirlf'f1i ng as vou nude
','OLr wav to thc too. where
the crack was ene o r two
fcet wide...yoll scnsed tbe
abvss in a kinacsthcnc and
psvchologi ral wav."
_"'"""ro "undo" buildings in a way that owcd as much
s.realism of' his fathcr, Roben Matt a, as ro tbc anti-form
of rhc 1961h. In his punningly ttled of
21). Matt a-Clark cut in half a New Jersey house from
....u .. renants bad been ahruptly evicted ro make room for a
c__ '" [but nevcr finshcd) ur han r enewal project . Ilousing
"",."" a familiar themc for sorne artists on borh continent s
___19705, following: crises in property pnces. urban plan-
.-d mounring une mploymenr . Ver the danger wa s tha t
a eSplittitlg would hecome routine cxcrciscs and bcgin
cri nes and dealers alike. The uneasy alli ancc bc rwccn
radicalism and a market economy was already showing
...-earing thin.
&:be California artist Michael Asher, [he qucsron was onc"'a ting a uniquc ser of projccts in "sit uational acsthcti cs"
IDOk a muscum or gallcry as a physical rcsourcc and intcr-
i::J. its palpable, material charactcr in ordcr to suggcst a re-
_ of rhe nor mal processcs whcrcby art was produced, dis-
and coiumodificd. In a proj cct at the Otis Art Institut e
An geles in 1975. Asher ucgotiarcd for the gallery to be
l O
A ltanativt,s (o AJodcm ism: she 1970s 33
34 A l fff/lafi lll' s fo ,l1ot1frn sm: he 1970s
22 . MI 01Al l Astll k
Prolcct al tbeC1aire Coplcv
Callel)" . Los Angeles, 1974.
This photograph shows the
rea created with l he
partition belween oice and
gallerv SpclCCS removed "In
the unif ied
space," said Asher, 'the
galler}" personnel sce rncc lo
IlKOrrlt' aware ni their
ccuvtes. andviewers
bocamc more awareni
thernselve, as viewers."
closcd for the duration of the "show": .
enrrance lobby he positi oned a notice
" In {he pr esenr ex hi bit io n 1 am the
funetioning to ronfound (he identi ry of
dnce r and viewer , as wel l as ro fr u
cxpcctations of solace and refinement .
vie wing space . A year ea r'I ier, also .
Angeles . Asher had tak en a pri vare
removed rhc partition berween gall .
cfficc space, and by deaning up resul r-m,
continuitics in carpet ami pai nr dccor
the whole space, empr y of paintiugs sa
rhosc stack cd conventionallv ar rhe
cnd, mysreriously out' (HG. 22). The
was to deconsrruct the disti ncrion b
aestlwt ic cxpcricncc and commerce. "viewers were con
wirh rbe way in which they had herome tradirionally lull
vcwing art and, simul taneoudy, th e unfoldi ug of the
str uct urc and ies operational procednre... Wi thout that qu
ing. a work of ar t cculd remain enclosed in its absrracre
rhctic contc xt, crearng a siruarion where a vewcr could
its actual and historical meaning." Simurancously, Ashcr ' s
strucrion began to shift the aurhorship of rhc work frcm
vidual to ream. l Icnccforward. thc radical curator would
and parcel of the work.
Asher' s prcjccts cannor be bought or sold and survive
precar iously in documcntat on and critic a] wriring. How
was bccoruing clear that most galk-rics aud rnuscums were
ing ir convcucnt ro acknowk-dgc the more convcntional
of Conceptual arr - tcxts. cotices, diagr ams, iusrructions.
tographs - and to make thcir less demanding for mats thc
for cvcn spccdicr commcrcial transacti ons than bcforc. Sim
transpon . display, documcnt, and insure, Conceptual an in
era l of its forms riskcd becoming a rcady answcr to the d
pra yer for fon nal nc vclry combincd with radical prctcnsiouz
Such an asscssmcn r could not be made of Conccptua li
a widcr inlernational ficld. Not only was the pre-hi story
bcvt work produccd in Poland and Russia in tbc 197Us and
- to rake (\VO siguificant cxarnplcs - at with their
tcrpart s in 'W'estern Enrope aud l\mrrica, but the suppon
tems and alldiences of the sod alst hloc countril's werc s
to be compared.
In such countries. the market, which provcd so centr al
so problematic for \Vestern artists, simply did not existo In
srate-approved versions of Socalist Rcalism in thc form
i_'l", of thc g:lnriolls march of Communism, rhc individual' s
. subscrvicnce to the srarc, and so 0 11, wc re in rhe late 1960s
ecemal farc. The maintenance of the production machincrv
regularcd this work had since at least 1945 lain like a suf-
.....g blaukcr ovcr thc arts of all of Easrem Europe. Abstraet bor h official1y banned and unk nown in any detail.
Tltr armosphere in avanr-garde circlcs in Moscow in thc
PJ70s can be judged partly in rcrms of thc cxt cnt l o which
irional art pro vok ed thc sratc author itics. Th c infamous
zing by thc KGB of an avant-gardc exhibition in Bcljacvc
in 1974 is thc prime cxamplc, and yct rhe publicity gener-
paradoxically scrvcd to rclcasc as much as to constrai n rhc
_er gencra tiou: thc cxh ihition was rc- staged t \ V O weeks
10 much popular intcrcst . By this time Mosccw artists had
~ tcrm " Sots Arr" (from thc Russiau for "soci alist") ro
e a cru el Pop-a-r pastiche of official SOViN reali smoThe
eork of Vitaly Komar and Alcxandr Melamid, two arti scs
srill work together, makes use of a mixture of'Duchampian,
_"'ml ist , and Pop-art ideas learned from wesrem art maga-
rombincd wit h a home-grown cyn cism that harks back to
aurdist lirerary group of rhc 19205, Obcriu. On c painring,
_ from 1972 and rcprcsc uring a ki nd of Easrern Concept ual-
Ri. 23), took an official Communist slogan and rcduced
Ittter to a monochromc rcct anglc, making the literal con-
.t me slogan uninrclligiblc . Al ann thcr level rhc repetitive-
md. blankness of Minimal painting function to rharact erive
.-i:ssing messagc i tsclf whatcvcr ir was. " O ffi cial'' real ity
: : ;.,: mbject to parody wit hin rhc codes of ar t, which was
idn:Jt.ll.lIy a coudition of the arrists' freedom from the atrcn-
ef me censor.
mosr SOvlN artists, unable ro travel to the West yet privy
ilar oc- asional tit-bit of art - worl d iuformation from Ncw
and elsewhere, che work of certain Western Conceptual-
bnd artisrs, and musicians carne to assurne almost myrhc
~ c e . The grO\lp in Moscow around Andrci Monasryrsky,
as Collecn ve Actions, began in thc mi d- 1970s ro devclop
e.1s of the composer j ohn Cagc conceming t he role of
and randomncss in musical composi tion. lnvired panici-
would tra vcl to a destination outside Moscow, and !here
.Alrrtive Actions woul d perfi.)rm ritualistic 3t:tiotlS of an cnig-
. nature not annoull ced in advance . In i1ppl'aranrr (1976).
rLlmpk , two pcrfonncrs appeared fmm a forest and hanclecl
_t" to the vkwcr signifying his or her part icipat ion in the
AiranatiTJn tn .Hodalti Hn: the f970s 35
lJ. VITAl Y Ko 'MN and
ALu...'IOlt "-\HA\I/O
QIJDfil tif JlI, 1972. oa on
canvas. 2'7" x Tl0 /t (0.8
x 1 2 m). Pnvatc collection.
event {an exampk- of (he Russian tcndency ro duvctail visual
wirh language}. U l'b/j( J , of rhc samc year, invol vcd an ele
bell which soundcd under rhe snow when rhe vicwcr approac
the group's concepr of "sound ing silcnce" was dir ccrly inspi
by John Cage. In Thin Vllriau/ (nc. 24) charactc rs perfor
mlp t)' actions and cleansiug gesrurcs likc Iying in a ditch (a
tu re found in rhe novelist Carl os rll b:
and in Samucl Becken ' s novel ,\rol/ay) until che audicnce di
pcared of its 0"' 11 acrord. Such forme of art lay lx-yond rhe
lillt"S of borh offi are and its opposiriou. and rncrcl y rravelli
ro the event and taking part took on a kind of rit ual significa
14. ANDREI MO 'i .Asr"RSKY
and lll'CTIVf AU IIl N,
Third Var;,lIJl, 1978.
In lh is penormar ce a
charactcr drcsscc in vo'ct
emerged110ma 101M!,
walked dU OSS a space and
lay in aditch. Aseccnd
chararter's head (in tl- e
formof a balfoonj blewup
berore he, loo, lay in the
ctrch. I he cbaracrcr,
conunacd to hethcre until
the audience waodered

sian iron y in the facc of fablcd Western art also found

sien in che work of a gro up of Moscow Perfor mance
:\li khai Roshal. Viktor Skersis, and Gcnnady Donskoy,
scadc a documcnt in wh ich rbcy purport ed to have por-
me soul of Amly \Varhol for 100 roubles. Another action
.. tri o, wittily cntnlcd L'lIdcrgroulld Art (1979), took place in
lime park as the bulldozcd show of fi vc ycars bcfore . 'I'he
. partly buried in t hc ground. spokc inl O a mic rophonc
rheir livcs as ar tists in rhe USSR and drcw with mud on a
s aboye their heads. A video rccordi ng of thc cvc nr - a
forro of documenracion in Rus-ia in 1979 - shows rhc arci srs
from the hole and askin g "Whcr c is Chris Burdcn
we need him?" Such self-mockiog art-world gestures, lIlany
barely publicised ami sometimos not evr-n recorded, mg-
mal the pervasive irony of Wcstem Cono-ptualism could he
adapted to al! manncr of stuatons, however dicrant or
5 - nilar.
n eSpectre of AffirmatilJc P,lil1 tillg
las! cxample shows that painting under the influence of
c..eeptualism could be obliquc and trausgressive: Umlers:rollllll
was in part a nihi listic painting about paint ing irself By
dircctly affirma tivc painting, such as thc scnsuous
oIIIiour abstracrou of j ulcs Olitski in Americe or John l loyland
Grt.' at Britain, looked t hin and uncon vincin g. At the ver)'
1E2U. ir now seemed to lack thc kind of cri tical purc hase that
Ceoceprualism had madc a possibiliry.
Alternatives lo Modernsns: tke 1970s 37
' 1 _
1- ":"1, -
1 \
, \
- , ! ;1-
IJ/( 7;' I

!! i r - ' f
:--.. j.
.l.. .()'(( I
!' Jjj . '
1/ / : _. . ( '/
od nsm: tl lr 19705
A ltl.'rndtivrs f<) . \ , t'r .
_ mid- 1970s. only certain an srs cou ld be descr bed 3'
dre mdi um of painting ro the limits of t hought and
.._'" Sigmar Polke and Gerhar d Ri chrer in Germany, oc che
_"".. arti srs Brice Mardcn. Roben Ryman. and Cy Twombly,
inng in Romc. whose faint, scribbled absrracrions bore
..rt..s of irresolunon necessary te painting' s conremporary
--.."'_ion (AG. 25). "Ir is as if the painring were conductin g a
cult ure," thc Preuch theori sr Roland Barthes said of
-_ .... y's work, "jett isoning it s magniloquent dscourse and
... only it s bcau ry." Assim.ilaring Twombly's manner ro
.o.mdividuaiistic stylc of Eastcm art . Barthes said thar "it
.cM: grasp al anyt hng: it is sit ua ted, it floats and drlfi s
_ _ "" rhc dcsire which, in subtle fashou. guides rhe hand,
"'Ctl CSS, which is rhc discrcet refusal of any capeivarng
Twombly' s crhic was ro be located, Bart hes said.
painting. oursdc the West. oursidc hi srory, ar the w ry
oi meaning."
di ffereru way out of the rcducrive pull of Mini malisr

thc blank, uninflccrcd mouochrome , was the

: of rhe American Frank Stclla in thc mid-1970s. whc
ecmplicatcd rhc pictorial surfacc in a progressively flam-
way, Pollowing bis own Minimallsr black and aluminum
paintings uf 1958-60. an d his dcvclo pmcnt of a typt' of
wall-relief pain ring in rhc early 19705, SIlDa tumcd in his
Bird series (FlG. 26) ro irregular curves. wild brusbstrokes,
m eot colour on a vast and asserrve scalc. Stclla's rrp llta-
as one of the most inrelligcnt and prescient painters of rus
15. (v l 'M)o.l!ll.Y
run srd Coda, 1974. Oil-
based hoese paint, oil pairt,
wax uayon, aOO lead pencil
0Il canvas. 8'2'1, - l( 6'6",-
(2.5 x 2 m; Pci'o'ale
26. Sn Ll.A
Betmud.J Pdrd, 1976.
Lacquer aOO oil on rrA:1a1.
.lT/,x 6' 1I',.. x 14-
(15 mx 2.1 mx 35.5cm).
The works inthE> 1JrgE'St of
lhe holic Bird
alominumSlIrf.1lt'S ireated
withground gtass aOO
larquer tharthE' artist rTlt' rely
r1 irf'ClPdlo hemade. "1could
ma ke the structurar schemes
lor such painlings lIst by
slirli ng clrolllld [he
:of a Stella
recalled. l o die-hard
Stclla's art
aita .\l irlimaJist phase
Iookerl incwasintd.,. oo.roque
A lta"IlIl!f S 1.. fHodCnl i slII : l it /' 1970s 39
27. IOY([ KOZlOf F
An InteriorDrcoriJled,
198O-ll 1. lrstallanon at thP
Renwick Galler,",
S'JIi!hsooian JllSlilution,
Washington, nr;
"\At'ereed anartlhal oicrs
direct meaningwithout
sacrificing \ ' i s u ~ 1
5Ophistic<l tion, au ,lrt that
will express sonehng
other thanwithdrawal,
scientism or sclicsism,"
wrote lilecritic Iohn
Perrauh. Kozkffhas
receotlv adepred her
method ro urban dP<.ign
schemes (or \\"dlls.
wallwa r.;, and pian as.
gcncration ensured that his new work was regi stercd in
st udios as being a dircction ro watch,
Yct onc ' s sense at thc time was of a certain redundancy
much abstraer paint ing that wa s maximalising merely for
sakc of cb ange. A similar j udgemenr afflicted a rype of wom
paint ing rhat surfaccd iut emationally toward s rhe end of
19705, known as "patt crn paint ing ." This depl oyed col ou
rcpcatcd dcr ail across gcncrally large format s (HG. 27). Cri
who supportcd this work rnade muc h of rhe war hack th
offercd frc m thc supposedly barren cxcrcscs of the Concep
ist t urno "Wc nccd an art that wll acknowledge Thrd W
andjor rhosc Iorms traditionally thought of as women' s w
an art that will cnliven a stcrilc cnvironmenr .. .Naked surf
are being fillcd in," wrote the A rifor l/l PI crirc J ohn Perra
"The grids of Minimal-rype painricg are being rransformed .
ncts ur latti ces tha t are scnsuo us and han ' contenr rhat g
b -yond self-refcrcnrc ."
Cclebrated in shows such as rhe rwenry-artisr Pattem Pai
at New York' s PS I Gallcry in November- December 1977,
tern painting can never thclcss be said to hav e answered
mood (thc dcsire for scnsuousness and colour at the end oCa
fining deci de) rathcr than to a thought. lts appeal was ro ry
crhnic dccorarivcncse {Cclric, Narive American, lslarnic).
brarcd in ways tha t did littlc more than attach style to a fo
Even installations sueh as [hose of Cynthia Carlson, in w
entirc gallcry cnvrcnmeuts were submirrcd re the urge to
rici sm ami profu siou, functioncd more as a model-kr for
tccturc rhat wanted ro renovare its form-language t.han as a
trib ution to art o The achic vcment of pan eru painti ng, nev
-lcss, was ro dcmon strat e rhc willngncss of womcn paint
work ou tsidc thc confining protocols of Moderni st cri tical
..'mi yel lhe rclativrl y poor sta}i ng- power of pan ern
ing in [he late 19705rcll eeted a dccpcr transfor ma[ion ",ithin
art wmld in the wakc of Conceptualism' s popularisation.
wuuld soon bccomc o!lvimls that mon' than mere sellSlIOU
was f(' quircd to overcome the despondency that enervated
of the art world at the time. Th e most direet ehallenge to
protoeo]s uf formalisl Modemism art lay not in maxilllal a
tion as a way of trumping Minimalis[ abstraetion, but thro
complete escape from abstraet ioll as sueh, in a ceturo to v
forms of attenrioll to me figure.
40 AftuPlalil't's ro "" oJrrlli.HIl : l/u: 197(Js

A llt'rnati rs to .\loJa nism: r l u ~ 19705 H