In this class we back up to the beginning of the course, and start again in Europe. After the Second World War, our attention turned to the American Art scene, but the artistic traditions of Europe continued to evolve as well. Sometimes this paralleled the work we’ve seen so far, and sometimes it followed it’s own trajectory. This class is only a quick survey of European art from the 1950s to the present, but we also manage to cover quite a few movements that spring up during this time.
In the 1960s, the Italian art scene becomes well known through the work of the Arte Povera movement. Using poor materials, that is materials of everyday occurrence, they commented on issues of contemporary society, as well as the historical traditions of Italian art.
In Austria, a group of artists centered around Herman Nitsch became known as the Viennese Actionists. Documenting performances through photography, they explored the Dionysian and visceral side of ritual. These pieces can be seen as carnal performances exploring the darker side of life.
In Germany, post-war reparations took a more apologetic tone, and artists such as Joseph Beuys looked to performance as a way to find healing rather than carnage. Other artists began exploring what became known as Neo-Expressionism, direct unmitigated expression with the traditional medium of paint and canvass. We will follow this style into the American scene in the 1980s as well.
In England in the 1990s, we also see a group of artists become collectively known as the YBA, or Young British Artists. Often creating sensational work, they don’t so much share a common style or subject, as much as a common interest in producing provocative artworks.