Circa 1966: Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection

Sep 03, 2016 - Jul 30, 2017
Littman Gallery

Founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery, the Zimmerli has evolved into one of the largest university art museums in the United States. This exhibition, a companion to Circa 1966: American Prints from the Collection, marks the museum’s fifty-year anniversary by focusing on the years around 1966.

Through the 1960s, the Cold War between the USA and the USSR flared up with proxy wars around the globe, among them the war in Vietnam. American President Lyndon B. Johnson poured resources and men into the war effort and began systematic bombing of the North Vietnam capital, Hanoi. Concerned citizens took to the streets to protest the war, while continuing to march for civil rights and equal rights for women. While the world was divided into two spheres of influence in uneasy balance, music, fashion, and art passed over borders in an international mix of styles with centers of activity in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

The selection on view in this exhibition contains examples of color field painting, geometric abstraction, assemblage, and pop—all styles current in the international art world of circa 1966. Included among the artists are lesser-known figures like Marion Greenstone, as well as artists like Joseph Beuys whose work has become synonymous with the 1960s and 1970s. The wide range of art produced and collected circa 1966 is evidence of the global energies of the art market and the push by artists to explore new materials and new conceptions of space, and to push their audience toward new experiences fueled by what the New York Times art critic Holland Cotter described as “the era’s distinctive mix of earned paranoia and skeptical utopianism.”

Organized by Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art and Mellon Director of Academic Programs, with the assistance of Kaitlin Booher and Todd Caissie, 2016 Mellon Summer Interns

Marion Greenstone

Spoonk, c. 1965

Oil and collage on canvas on six joined canvases

50⅜ x 59¼ in. (128 x 150.5 cm)

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of the Marion Greenstone Estate

2007.0193

Photo Peter Jacobs