High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975

  • Aug 6, 2006 – Oct 15, 2006
Al Loving, "Untitled", ca. 1970s, torn canvas, 80 x 60 in.

New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s was an exhilarating place for artists to be. Just as the country witnessed numerous social and political changes that were breaking down all kinds of barriers, the New York art world exploded in all directions. Most art-historical accounts of this period say little, if anything, about painting—after all, it was presumed to be “dead,” usurped by the heavy metal and stark canvases of Minimalism. In fact, abstract painting was thriving as artists explored radical new directions: pulling painting apart, moving it off the stretcher and onto the floor, and even using the human body as a canvas.

Nearly half of these abstract painters were women, generally dismissed at the time by many influential art critics who could only see men leading the renewal of a medium as important as painting. African-American artists and those from other countries living temporarily in New York were similarly disregarded. This stranglehold of male artists, however, actually gave women the opportunity not only to expand conventional concepts of “painting” but also to be at the forefront of exploring the new media of video and performance art. High Times, Hard Times encompasses a period of great transformation and embodies its spirit of freedom and possibility.

Thirty-eight artists are represented in the exhibition, from such well recognized names as Lynda Benglis, Richard Tuttle, Elizabeth Murray, and Ralph Humphrey to those like Roy Colmer, Ree Morton and Lawrence Stafford, whose work was heralded at the time but is less known today. A number of the artists are represented in the Weatherpoon's collection.

High Times, Hard Times is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by guest curator Katy Siegel and curatorial advisor David Reed. Other contributions include personal statements by some of the artists reflecting on the meaning of their work and the social scene that surrounded it and essays by Marcia Tucker, founding director of The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; critics Robert Pincus-Witten and Anna Chave; and artist Dawoud Bey. They have written on a wide range of issues, from the explosive artistic and political context of the day, the experience of being a young painter living in New York during these years, and matters of race and gender. The book will serve as an important reference on a crucial era.

High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975 is a traveling exhibition organized and circulated by Independent Curators International (iCI). The guest curator is Katy Siegel, with David Reed as advisor. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue are made possible, in part, with support from the Peter Norton Family Foundation, the Harriett Ames Charitable Trust, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., the iCI International Associates, the iCI Exhibition Partners, Kenneth S. Kuchin, and Gerrit and Sydie Lansing.


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