1960s and 70s American Art Surveyed at Museum Ludwig

June 22, 2020

The 1960s and 1970s in the United States were marked by tectonic changes in both social and political context. The emergence of Civil Rights, Feminist and LGBTQ Movements, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, the student protests, and the ones against the Vietnam War made the country divided but also filled with hope and vigor for possible betterment.

The art produced during that time reflected the zeitgeist, but in the institutional sense, the representation was mostly focused on white male artists such as Roy Lichtenstein or Donald Judd, while the production of minorities stood on the margin for a long time.

To unravel the astounding domains of the Others in the mentioned period of American art, the Museum Ludwig decided to present the exhibition Mapping the Collection that will include artworks made by the female, queer, indigenous, and artists of color from their collection.

Martha Rosler - Still from Semiotics of the Kitchen. Museum Ludwig © Martha Rosler. Courtesy Martha Rosler & Galerie Nagel Draxler Berlin/ Cologne/ Munich

Revisiting The Shifting Times

The prime goal of the upcoming presentation under the curation of Janice Mitchell, (Terra Foundation Collection Research Fellow in American Art at the Museum Ludwig) is to critically question the historical canon and the Western European perception of the American art in terms of the political and social events that shaped it from feminist, queer and postcolonial discourses.

Furthermore, Mapping the Collection tends to engage in a broader discussion about the issues concerning representation and agency that were and are still relevant in both American and European contexts.

Adam Pendleton - Still from Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer, 2016–2017 © and courtesy Adam Pendleton

The Works

Alongside the artworks by renowned artists such as Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Ana Mendieta, Sherrie Levine, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Louise Nevelson, this particular survey will include the ones made by few lesser-known figures such as Leon Polk Smith, David Wojnarowicz (whose works are part of the collection), as well as Adrian Piper, Senga Nengudi, and T.C. Cannon (Kiowa/Caddo).

This constellation will underline how the artists engaged with the social and political circumstances of these two decades, along with the fluctuation of formal and stylistic tendencies and the exchange regardless of race, sexuality, and gender. The selected works from the collection will be properly contextualized to establish new connections between artists, works, and art history and reinterpret them accordingly.

Mapping the Collection will also take into consideration the role the museum has in the process of production of knowledge about these (art) historical narratives.

David Wojnarowicz - Coney Island, 1978-1979. Museum Ludwig Courtesy of David Wojnarowicz and P·P·O·W, New York Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Cologne

Mapping The Collection at Museum Ludwig

It is important to note that this exhibition is the result of the Terra Foundation Research Fellowship in American Art at the Museum Ludwig that has been prepared during the course of two years.

Mapping the Collection will be on display at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany from 20 June until 11 October 2020.

Featured image: Harry Gamboa Jr. - From the Asco era The Gores (Whittier Blvd + Axe), 1974 ©1974, Harry Gamboa Jr.; Louise Nevelson - Royal - Tide IV, 1959/60 Museum Ludwig © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Cologne / Marion Mennicken; Corita Kent (Sister Corita) - people like us, yes, 1965. Museum Ludwig © 2020 Estate of Corita Kent/ Immaculate Heart Community/ Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Cologne. All images courtesy Museum Ludwig.