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Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972

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In Six Years Lucy R. Lippard documents the chaotic network of ideas that has been labeled conceptual art. The book is arranged as an annotated chronology into which is woven a rich collection of original documents—including texts by and taped discussions among and with the artists involved and by Lippard, who has also provided a new preface for this edition. The result is In Six Years Lucy R. Lippard documents the chaotic network of ideas that has been labeled conceptual art. The book is arranged as an annotated chronology into which is woven a rich collection of original documents—including texts by and taped discussions among and with the artists involved and by Lippard, who has also provided a new preface for this edition. The result is a book with the character of a lively contemporary forum that offers an invaluable record of the thinking of the artists—a historical survey and essential reference book for the period.


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In Six Years Lucy R. Lippard documents the chaotic network of ideas that has been labeled conceptual art. The book is arranged as an annotated chronology into which is woven a rich collection of original documents—including texts by and taped discussions among and with the artists involved and by Lippard, who has also provided a new preface for this edition. The result is In Six Years Lucy R. Lippard documents the chaotic network of ideas that has been labeled conceptual art. The book is arranged as an annotated chronology into which is woven a rich collection of original documents—including texts by and taped discussions among and with the artists involved and by Lippard, who has also provided a new preface for this edition. The result is a book with the character of a lively contemporary forum that offers an invaluable record of the thinking of the artists—a historical survey and essential reference book for the period.

30 review for Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Lucy R. Lippard explores a number of modern art movements flowering in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including minimal art, earth art and conceptual art. It is this last form of art I find most fascinating, especially as put forth by artist Sol LeWitt in his classic piece “Sentences on Conceptual Art” – 35 brief statements outlining the philosophy behind what it means to create as a conceptual artist. As a way of sharing a portion of LeWitt’s work, below are 10 of his 35 sentences along with m Lucy R. Lippard explores a number of modern art movements flowering in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including minimal art, earth art and conceptual art. It is this last form of art I find most fascinating, especially as put forth by artist Sol LeWitt in his classic piece “Sentences on Conceptual Art” – 35 brief statements outlining the philosophy behind what it means to create as a conceptual artist. As a way of sharing a portion of LeWitt’s work, below are 10 of his 35 sentences along with my brief comments: “The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His willfulness may only be ego.” --------- One key area of Sol LeWittt’s artistic vision highlights the interplay between ideas, geometry and perception, the way the mind, the eye and physical space interact. In LeWitt’s own words: “When you draw various parts of a cube on paper there is order but when the drawing is converted into three dimensions those partial cubes become chaos. However, when you walk around the completed work and look at it from different lines of sight, those cubes becomes orderly again as you begin to untangle the puzzle and engage your intellectual processes of problem solving.” LeWitt’s art originates from very simple ideas wherein he develops those ideas into complex and playful forms. He then welcomes the viewer to partake in a visual dialogue with his creations. “The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.” --------- So, ideas are the pieces or building blocks of an overarching concept. Take for example the construction below - the multi-cube would be the concept and the many various pieces would correspond to separate, individual ideas. “For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.” ---------- For each created art work there would be all those modifications and possibilities that were in the mind of the artist at some point during the creation, some considered seriously, others not so seriously, then put aside. Theoretically, all those potential modifications could have taken on physical form but they did not, in fact, receive form. “The conventions of art are altered by works of art.” ---------- Turns out, Sol LeWitt has had much influence in the art world. He has transformed the idea and practice of drawing as well as redefining the connection between an idea and the art that idea produces. With LeWitt there is a shift in focus from the presence of the artist physically and directly creating the work to the artist’s ideas behind the work and how the ideas surpass each work itself. In this sense, LeWitt is very much like an architect designing and setting out plans for a structure without participating in the actual material, physical side of setting the foundation or erecting that structure. “Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.” ---------- I myself designed what I judge to be a cross between Piet Mondrian and a Zen garden. First, I took a sheet of 6’ x 4’ white Formica and placed this Formica sheet within a white frame and then placed it on a table. Next, I painted wooden half-circle nobs, each nob 2’' in diameter, in bold colors – black, white, yellow, blue, red. Rather than rocks set out on the sand of a Zen gardens, the viewer/participant takes the colored nobs and sets each one, as few as 2 or 3 or as many as 20 or 30, out on the white Formica. Applying LeWitt’s statement here that ideas can be works of art that need not be made physical, outlining my concept of this work of art is enough – you can see in your mind’s eye what I have created and you can, in turn, orchestrate the combinations of colored pieces on white Formica. Actually, you could take the next step - with my simple specifications, you could construct a Mondrian-Zen Garden of your own. “Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.” ---------- If my concept of a Mondrian - Zen Garden strikes you as flat or banal or superficial, please feel free to apply this Sol LeWitt sentence to my conceptual art! “The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.” --------- South African author J. M. Coetzee was once asked to answer the philosophical questions undergirding one of his novels. Coetzee replied that he is only the author; he doesn’t pretend to have answers to the philosophical challenges he poses; rather, as an author of fiction, his job is simply to present those challenges vividly to the reader. “It is difficult to bungle a good idea.” ----------- LeWitt must be thinking specifically of Conceptual Art with its emphasis on the concept as opposed to the various stages of execution since, when it comes to other forms of art, it is not only not difficult to bungle a good idea, it is as easy as pie. Such bungling is done all the time by artists. “When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.” ---------- For LeWitt, the artist is really a thinker. LeWitt’s Conceptual Art is radical not because of the materials it uses but the ideas behind those materials. The idea is the machine that makes the work of art; execution is a perfunctory affair. Again, as noted above, the artist’s hand need not be present. LeWitt’s wall drawings act like a musical score where the artist is the composer - similar to a musical composition that can be played simultaneously by any number of musicians all over the globe, LeWitt’s wall art may be painted simultaneously by many artists in multiple spaces. “These sentences comment on art, but are not art.” ---------- Ha! What is the sound of one conceptual artist writing?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Muhan

    Not rating this because this is a reference book. I enjoyed the essay. The catalogue of books/works/exhibits was mindnumbing to scroll through (I have a scanned pdf copy of the whole book lol) but combing through I found some cool things I had never heard of before, like a guy whose "sculpture" was made by slowly changing the territory of a bird. I'm predisposed to be annoyed at anything art and white that came before me. I don't care how subversive it was at the time, Lucy and all her white fri Not rating this because this is a reference book. I enjoyed the essay. The catalogue of books/works/exhibits was mindnumbing to scroll through (I have a scanned pdf copy of the whole book lol) but combing through I found some cool things I had never heard of before, like a guy whose "sculpture" was made by slowly changing the territory of a bird. I'm predisposed to be annoyed at anything art and white that came before me. I don't care how subversive it was at the time, Lucy and all her white friends (and Adrian Piper) talking about art at each other is really fucking boring. I know I should know this just to know it or whats'd've-ever but it all still feels really fucking pointless to me (except for Adrian Piper who was actually coherent and allowed to stay).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Barton

    It feels like this book changed my life. Fingers crossed that’s true.

  4. 4 out of 5

    PeibloPls

    Mandatory for studying conceptual art.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tentatively, Convenience

    I read Ursula Meyers' bk "Conceptual Art" in 1976 & this one not until over 22 yrs later. By then, of course, I'd changed alot. Even though there's an overlap between the 2 bks (after all, both writers are mostly art world figures aware of NYC artists 1st & foremost), their mode of presentation is different. Meyers' bk has short statements & pictures. Lippard's is much more of a cut & paste reference. I recommend them both. However, the difference in when I read them makes me favor the Meyers bk I read Ursula Meyers' bk "Conceptual Art" in 1976 & this one not until over 22 yrs later. By then, of course, I'd changed alot. Even though there's an overlap between the 2 bks (after all, both writers are mostly art world figures aware of NYC artists 1st & foremost), their mode of presentation is different. Meyers' bk has short statements & pictures. Lippard's is much more of a cut & paste reference. I recommend them both. However, the difference in when I read them makes me favor the Meyers bk more. At the same time that Conceptual Art will always be very important to me, some of these particular manifestations of it have lost their charm for me. I've seen Sol LeWitt, eg, turn into a museum superstar &, even though he's credited w/ coining the term "Conceptual Art" (as opposed to "Concept Art" coined by Henry Flynt), I find his work to be highly over-rated geometricism (amongst other things) & not really very 'conceptual' at all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    Astonishingly wide-ranging and accessible. This is one of the most unconventional and satisfying books about post-WW2 art I've read. The structure of the book is more like an annotated bibliography that covers the author's art viewing over a 6 year period. Not a collection of reviews so much as a collection of impressions and experiences that slowly build a definition of art-objects and aesthetics. A sort of cut-and-paste argument for moving past 'modernism'. Blow up the picture of the cover for Astonishingly wide-ranging and accessible. This is one of the most unconventional and satisfying books about post-WW2 art I've read. The structure of the book is more like an annotated bibliography that covers the author's art viewing over a 6 year period. Not a collection of reviews so much as a collection of impressions and experiences that slowly build a definition of art-objects and aesthetics. A sort of cut-and-paste argument for moving past 'modernism'. Blow up the picture of the cover for a look at the full title. This book is ideally suited for those who love visiting museums and galleries but haven't yet found a way to enjoy or at least contextualize art practices such as 'minimalism', 'conceptual art', 'performance art' and other commonly-mocked/misunderstood bodies of work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    Fascinating source book of reviews, documents, statements connected to the Conceptual Art movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies. The key word is "dematerialization." In their attempt to resist/break from the art business--celebrity culture, galleries, formal exhibitions--the Conceptual artists emphasized process and idea rather than object. Lippard was in the middle of the New York scene; her work frequently blurred the line between the role of the critic and that of the artist. As sh Fascinating source book of reviews, documents, statements connected to the Conceptual Art movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies. The key word is "dematerialization." In their attempt to resist/break from the art business--celebrity culture, galleries, formal exhibitions--the Conceptual artists emphasized process and idea rather than object. Lippard was in the middle of the New York scene; her work frequently blurred the line between the role of the critic and that of the artist. As she acknowledges, the line between what the Conceptual artists were doing and the explorations of Fluxus and the Minimalists is blurry. But that wasn't, and isn't, the point. Part of the story of what freedom meant at a time when people were taking it seriously.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ella

    i laughed for a good chunk of this book. but how can you write a retrospective contemporary "history" of art from the late 60s without dictating a canon? (i remember my surrogate mother's friends laughing when i told them i was studying contemporary art history. i remember shivering when i found out marina abramovic was performing historic performance pieces at the gugenheim.) lucy lippard does it. lippard, like rosalind kraus, is a master of present observation, here using critique to investigat i laughed for a good chunk of this book. but how can you write a retrospective contemporary "history" of art from the late 60s without dictating a canon? (i remember my surrogate mother's friends laughing when i told them i was studying contemporary art history. i remember shivering when i found out marina abramovic was performing historic performance pieces at the gugenheim.) lucy lippard does it. lippard, like rosalind kraus, is a master of present observation, here using critique to investigate and document. although, as much as i hate to admit it, this whole claim of dematerialization isn't entirely convincing. damn.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meaghen

    I really enjoyed Lucy Lippard's introduction/summary to the book. I admit to not reading the details in full, but rather skimming them and finding highlights here and there. Fascinating to have this collection from a very interesting time. I really enjoyed Lucy Lippard's introduction/summary to the book. I admit to not reading the details in full, but rather skimming them and finding highlights here and there. Fascinating to have this collection from a very interesting time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    I really enjoyed this approach to an important timeline of conceptual, minimal, earth, anti-form, etc. art. The snippets and interviews, stark images really contextualize the time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Luz Shoe

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rynn

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patrice

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Sidley

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mariko

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Presby

  19. 5 out of 5

    lindsie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rhona Sword

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael R

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miki

  23. 4 out of 5

    z

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  26. 4 out of 5

    Petra Ma

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grgry

  29. 5 out of 5

    T

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beckywthomas

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