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“Painting” in the 1960s and 1970s / Symposium



Art history and art criticism have established a narrative of sudden breaking points for the U.S.-American artistic production since the 1960s: during the 1960s, so the story goes, artists turned away from painting to concentrate on conceptual approaches, performance, video, film, installation, etc. A decade later, at the beginning of the 1980s, they returned to traditional methods of painting at least in part for commercial reasons.

This narrative, which has been presented most prominently by critics associated with the journal October, has resulted in the fact that both scholarly and critical analyses of the role of painting for the art of the 1960s and 1970s are all but non-existent. The present research project takes its cue from Helmut Draxler, who considers the medium of painting as a “Dispositiv”–an arrangement of premises–which becomes most prominent in those areas of art where the main aim is to distinguish itself from painting. In studying the “Dispositiv” of painting within American art of the 1960s and 1970s, this two-day symposium aims to initiate a rethinking of art historical accounts of those decades.

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