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1960s and 1970s in American Art

The ex­hi­bi­tion Map­ping the Col­lec­tion takes a new look at two in­flu­en­tial de­cades in Amer­i­can (art) his­to­ry: the 1960s and 1970s. The ex­hi­bi­tion pre­sents a se­lec­tion of art­works from the Mu­se­um Lud­wig’s col­lec­tion by fe­male, queer, and in­dige­nous artists as well as artists of col­or who are not rep­re­sent­ed in the col­lec­tion, as an im­pe­tus for a broad­er re­cep­tion of Amer­i­can art. The po­lit­i­cal and so­cial events and de­vel­op­ments of th­ese two de­cades form the back­ground against which our West­ern Eu­ro­pean con­cep­tion and re­cep­tion of Amer­i­can art his­to­ry is crit­i­cal­ly ques­tioned.

From a Eu­ro­pean per­spec­tive, when we think of the 1960s and 1970s in the Unit­ed States we main­ly re­mem­ber the Afri­can-Amer­i­can civ­il rights move­ment, the as­sassi­na­tions of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and the protests against the Viet­nam War. How­ev­er, we know lit­tle about the Brown Berets, the ac­tivists of the Amer­i­can In­dian Move­ment, or the be­gin­n­ings of gay lib­er­a­tion. Char­ac­teris­tic ex­am­ples of art from this pe­ri­od in­clude works by Andy Warhol, Roy Licht­en­stein, Do­n­ald Judd, Robert Smith­son, Robert Rauschen­berg, and Robert In­dia­na. Afri­can-Amer­i­can artists, on the other hand, are bare­ly pre­sent in the nar­ra­tive of twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can art, and in­dige­nous or Lat­inx artists even less so. Yet they of course al­so made im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the de­vel­op­ment of art and cul­ture in the Unit­ed States.

In ad­di­tion to art works by th­ese renowned artists from the Mu­se­um Lud­wig’s col­lec­tion, Map­ping the Col­lec­tion al­so fea­tures works by less­er-known artists, such as David Wo­j­narow­icz and Leon Polk Smith, who are al­so rep­re­sent­ed in the col­lec­tion, along­side loans of works by Sen­ga Nen­gu­di, Adrian Piper, and T.C. Can­non (Kiowa/Cad­do). The aim is on the one hand to show how artists re­act­ed to the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments of th­ese two de­cades and, on the other hand, to de­mon­s­trate that for­mal and stylis­tic de­vel­op­ments and the exchange of ideas did not stop at the boun­daries of gen­der and race. This com­bi­na­tion al­so brings pre­vi­ous­ly over­looked con­nec­tions and al­liances among artists and be­tween artists and ac­tivists to the sur­face, which de­mon­s­trates that art al­ways re­mains con­nect­ed to the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­text of its cre­a­tion. At the same time, it un­der­s­cores the ob­s­ta­cles faced by artists from in­dige­nous, Afri­can-Amer­i­can, and other margi­nal­ized com­mu­ni­ties, as well as the in­flu­ence that artists’ back­ground—in re­gard to race, so­cial class, and gen­der—has on the re­cep­tion and un­der­s­tand­ing of art.

Map­ping the Col­lec­tion draws from femi­n­ist and queer dis­cours­es and ques­tions the fa­miliar (art) his­tor­i­cal canon. But settler colo­nial the­o­ries are ex­plored as well, tak­ing the col­oniza­tion of the Amer­i­can conti­nent and the con­comi­tant geno­cide of in­dige­nous peo­ples as its point of de­par­ture. Through the ad­di­tion of archi­val ma­te­rial, the works from the col­lec­tion are “re”con­nect­ed to the his­tor­i­cal, po­lit­i­cal, and so­cial con­text of their cre­a­tion. This pro­duces new links be­tween artists, works, and art his­to­ry. The ex­hi­bi­tion al­so ex­amines the role of the mu­se­um it­self in the cre­a­tion and af­fir­ma­tion of th­ese (art) his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. Map­ping the Col­lec­tion rais­es ques­tions about rep­re­sen­ta­tion and agen­cy that are as rel­e­vant to­day as they were then—in the Unit­ed States and in Ger­many.

This ex­hi­bi­tion is the re­sult of the Ter­ra Foun­da­tion Re­search Fel­low­ship in Amer­i­can Art at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. Over a pe­ri­od of two years, the pro­ject fo­cused on the col­lec­tion of twen­ti­eth­cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can art at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig and ex­amined it with re­gard to post­colo­nial, femi­n­ist, queer, and gen­der-the­o­ret­i­cal ques­tions.

Artists: As­co, Vi­to Ac­con­ci, Ruth-Mari­on Baruch, T.C. Can­non (Kiowa/Cad­do), Bar­bara Chase-Ri­boud, Ed­ward Cur­tis, Dan Gra­ham, David Ham­mons, Sharon Hayes, Robert In­dia­na, Pirk­le Jones, Cori­ta Kent (Sis­ter Cori­ta), Sh­er­rie Levine, Roy Licht­en­stein, Mor­ris Louis, Gor­don Mat­ta-Clark, Ana Mendi­e­ta, Sen­ga Nen­gu­di, Louise Nevel­son, Ken­neth No­land, Claes Ol­d­en­burg, Adam Pendle­ton, Howar­de­na Pin­dell, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rain­er, Robert Rauschen­berg, Martha Rosler, Car­olee Sch­nee­mann, Leon Polk Smith, Andy Warhol, Han­nah Wilke, David Wo­j­narow­icz

Cu­ra­tor: Jan­ice Mitchell, Ter­ra Foun­da­tion Fel­low in Amer­i­can Art at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig

The ex­hi­bi­tion is gener­ous­ly sup­port­ed by the Ter­ra Foun­da­tion for Amer­i­can Art, the Kun­st­s­tif­tung NRW, the Land­schaftsver­band Rhein­land, Dez­er­nat Kul­tur und Land­schaftliche Kul­turpflege and a grant from Sparkasse Köln­Bonn from the PS Zweck­er­trag der Lot­terie des Rheinischen Sparkassen- und Girover­ban­des PS Sparen und Gewin­nen.

You can down­load an ex­ten­sive glos­sary about the ex­hi­bi­tion here


Image Credits: Roy Lichtenstein, Red Barn II, 1969, Donation Ludwig Collection, 1976, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Cologne

(From Museum Ludwig's Website) 

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