The Akron Art Museum Presents an Exhibition to Challenge the Limits of Art
For Release: June 2009
Akron, Ohio, June 1, 2009 — When does an object cease to be ordinary and begin to be considered a work of art? This is the question that the artists in Rethinking Art: Objects and Ideas from the 1960s and 70s will force the viewer to ask about their everyday surroundings. Beginning June 6 in the Akron Art Museum’s Judith Bear Isroff Gallery, visitors will have the opportunity to challenge their preconceived notions of art and reconsider how it can be presented and experienced.
Rethinking Art comprises 10 experimental artworks from the collections of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College and the Akron Art Museum. The exhibition includes notable artists such as Dan Flavin, Christo and Jeanne Claude, Joseph Kosuth and Robert Smithson, whose artistic ideas drove the evolution of contemporary art. Sparked by the social and political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S., artists began challenging conventional art-making practices, developing ideas and concepts that took them beyond the canvas. They favored ideas and exploration over technical virtuosity. Art critic and poet John Ashbery commented, “Can art that anybody can do be great? What matters is the artist’s will to discover, rather than the manual skills he may share with hundreds of other artists. Anybody could have discovered America, but only Columbus did.”
One featured work in the exhibition is a film of the making of the controversial Partially Buried Woodshed by Robert Smithson, which was created at nearby Kent State University in 1970. Documented by a Kent State film student, Smithson dumped 20 cartloads of dirt onto an abandoned woodshed and declared the dirt, the shed and everything inside to be part of his artwork. Over the following 14 years the structure has naturally deteriorated, leaving just a mound of dirt—a process that was equally as important as its creation. Survived only by a 15-minute video of the process, Partially Buried Woodshed led Smithson to create his most famous outdoor work, Spiral Jetty.
Other artworks that were radical for their time include Dan Flavin’s arrangement of factory-made fluorescent light tubes and Joseph Kosuth’s enlarged photocopies of word definitions. Every piece in the exhibition makes the viewer question the emphasis of the artist – whether the artwork’s core is the material it is made from, the process of its making, or the idea behind the object.
This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a generous gift from The Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
Address: One South High, Akron, OH 44308
Gallery and Store Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday; also closed Independence Day and Labor Day
Café Hours: Temporarily closed
Library Hours: Wednesday, Friday: 11 am – 4 pm, Thursday: By Appointment Only
Admission: Adult general admission is $7, Student and Senior (65+) general admission is $5, Children (12 and under) are FREE, members are FREE. On the first Sunday of every month, individual admissions to the collection are FREE. Special exhibitions may require paid admission. No tours available on these days.