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First in series "Understanding Contemporary Art" by art historian Professor Nancy G. Helle

My notes from the wonderful lecture by Nancy G. Heller as she took us through the decades that define Pluralism and some of the artists that define it. Nancy has also published a book that compliments our lecture series. "Why a Painting is like a Pizza: A guide to Understanding Modern Art. Here is the link on Amazon.

My notes from the lecture.

We will start with Pluralism - radical art from the 1970's.


Abstract Expressionism - began with Jackson Pollack

Leaves Europe and comes to NYC

Violent introspective

1960's rejected it and began POP ART


Minimalism - 1960's abstract with out the baggage. Mechanical ways of presenting art

Things changed again in the 1970's to PLURALISM

PLURALISM - makes sense of the trajectory of the previous areas..

1970 things changed... and a half century later and it is impossible to pin down the artistic developments. Explains why we still use the term PLURALISM to describe the radical art.

POSTMODERNISM - experts also disagree as to when this begins.. 1970's, or when?

No general agreement.

What are the main ways to see..


What is more important is what is behind the art as opposed to the art.

Class Oldenburg - Placid Civic Monument - 1967 the invisible monument. The art was a space where

grave diggers dug a grave and then filled it up and called it conceptual art

"Nothingness" - an empty gallery. Based on Zen Buddhism

Marcel DuChamp - empty glass vessel of Paris air.

If there isn't anything - does that mean there is something?

John Baldessari - appropriates objects in his work.

Conceptual art..

"I will not make boring art"...over and over

Used a professional sign painter to do some of his art.


Takes art a step further.

PHOTO REALISM - remember, this all took place before digital photography

Painting from Photographs. Paintings so much like the photograph the viewer can hardly tell the different. Famous artists in this genre were

Richard Estes (b 1936)

Chuck Close and his self portrait

Chuck Close - (b 1931)famous for his large portraits. His approach was different. Large and black and white. Mimicked the camera. He was inspired to make portraits.. in color in the early 1970's Confrontational scale. Doesn't hide the imperfection . Chuck Close has face blindness. He can't recognize faces. In 988 at the age of 48 he had a stroke and now uses a wheelchair. Paints with a mechanical arm with studio help.

Last year there was a scandal involving his photographs and paintings

Audrey Flack (b 1931) - used airbrush and other new tools. Deliberate blurring

Audrey Flack - Chanel

Was faulted for being to "feminine". Taught in the 1970's in NE Colleges. She has been recognized and did her Vanitas series..

Marilyn- part of the Vanitas Series - 1977

Large 8 feet by 8 feet in size.

1982 she changed her style to making statues (20 ft tall) of heroic women.


Duane Hanson

Duane Hanson "Self Portrait with Model" 1978

He made well known sculptures using LIFE CASTING. Paved the way for lots of other sculpture. Assembles the body parts from a cast made from a real person. Add hair, clothes.. age spots. And things to meek them real looking..

Hanson started with political and horrific events.

Motor cycle accidents, drug addicts. Social satire. Tourists, women iwith shopping carts in the market, curlers in her hair. Children with dog. None of his sculptures were smiling. They were all VERY realistic. Criticism has compared his work to Madame Trussards Wax figures.

The next several decades were inspired by Hansen

John De Andrea, Ron Mueck, George Segal,

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