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Pop art, op art, minimalism, fluxus, and conceptual art movements were introduced in the 1960s. Delving into their permanent collection, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMOCA) assembled art representing these historical movements into Far Out — Art from the 1960s. The exhibit features a 1960s living room and is on display in their main galleries, at 227 State St., until Sept. 2.

Artists, along with activists, influenced the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

“While the turmoil of the decade influenced artists to create political works, they were also in the process of rejecting art historical precedents and developing a counterculture of their own,” the MMOCA press release said. “Seeking to reject the artist-centric view and the emotive and gestural brushstrokes that dominated Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, artists embraced more conceptual and formal explorations.”

A French-American painter and sculptor, Marcel Duchamp, introduced the idea that the artist defines what is art and artists began looking to everyday items for inspiration. They incorporated mass produced and commercial imagery into paintings using bold primary colors. Heavy doses of irony and wit, realism and everyday imagery embody the pop art movement. Far Out — Art from the 1960s includes works from pop artists Allen Jones, Roy Lichtenstein and Clayton Pond.

Using theories of color and perception, op art features geometric shapes and lines in black and white or vivid colors. An illusion of vibration or depth is often created in the artwork. After a 1965 exhibition, the art style began to appear on everything from furniture to clothing and has been associated with the mod style of the decade. Op artists Nicholas Krushenick, Marko Spalatin, and Victor Vasarely are included in the exhibit.

Simple, three-dimensional objects “devoid of representational content” made from ordinary industrial materials were at the heart of the minimalism movement. Minimalism artists challenged the illusion of spatial depth in painting, the idea that art should be one of a kind, and the then-current ideas of craftsmanship. Artwork by Masuo Ikeda and Ellsworth Kelly represent minimalism in the exhibit.

The fluxus art movement sought to bring art to the masses and destroy any boundary between art and life. Fluxus artists created art without having an idea of how the piece would eventually turn out and felt the process was important, not the finished piece.

Conceptual art focuses on the idea, planning and process used to create the art, rather than the skill of the artist. The viewer’s interest in the finished piece is the objective of a conceptual artist.

—Robyn Norton


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