The 1960s: Decade of Change

  • Sep 7, 2008 – Dec 21, 2008
Installation view: Weatherspoon Art Museum, 2008.

No exhibition, small or large, could express the many conflicting social, political, intellectual, and artistic forces of the 1960s. It was an era that is perhaps now impossible to define. For many Americans, life during the 1960s included the Vietnam War, peace protests, the civil rights movement, and psychedelic music. For others, it was an exciting and optimistic time of technological innovation and space exploration. It was a time, too, when hopes and dreams were shattered by political assassinations. The 1960s are very much with us today as a touchstone of collective experience, even for those born later.

In this exhibition, selections from the Museum's permanent collection point out that the 1960s were also a time of wide-ranging philosophical and formal experimentation in the arts. Included are artists such as Leon Golub, a dedicated war protester whose anguished image of a fighting man was a direct response to Vietnam. Robert Smithson and Christo reacted to the restless agitation of the time by taking art-making beyond the traditional borders of gallery walls. Smithson pioneered what we now know as “earthworks,” immovable, site-specific sculptures. Christo has become famous for wrapping buildings and bridges like giant packages, hiding their familiar shapes to stimulate discussion of what we “know” and remember. Another artist, Jo Baer, struck out in a very different direction by making minimalist paintings that encouraged intimate viewer involvement with space and sensation.

The work of these and other artists give us a taste of the exciting time that was the 1960s, a decade of change.


We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.