Conceptual and Performance Artists in the Context of the Political Events of the 1960s

The 1960s were extremely unpredictable and uncertain times in the United States. It was the time full of fateful historical events, such as outcomes of Martin Luther King’s reform, a presidential term of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, terrible Vietnam War and another wave of feminism movement. Basically, the social life had encountered with new issues that never happened before. Consequently, those changes drastically altered the country, its citizens, their awareness and understanding of own fundamental principles and attitudes.

Those conditions were an obvious sign for artists who were willing to stand up for the better life and take immediate actions. Both Conceptual and Performance Art was an irreplaceable tool for people to represent the social ideas, such as rebellions against standard and regular cultural institutions, as well as commercialization of the art and certain political events that strongly affected society of the United States.

The main point of Performance Art is to maintain unforgettable, striking, outstanding, moving or horrifying impressions; an artist makes an attempt to keep an audience interested and shocked, at the same time. Early work of Hannah Wilke (terra-cotta sculptures) is considered to be the first undisguised vaginal imagery that was an expression of uncompromising riot and women’s liberation movement. From the history, we may find out there was the second-wave of feminism in the early 1960s. Supposedly, Wilke was inspired by fights against racism and the first wave of feminism. Owing to the art, she tried to convince American society in the possibility of equality between men and women, their rights and liberties.

Another American artist, who was not indifferent about life changes, is Martha Rosler. Her series of photomontages “Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful”, are appealed to the image of the Vietnam War. By this work she assumed some hidden connection between foreign policy of the country and apathy, so, an assumption that the Vietnam was an accident is completely wrong. Rosler reacts sharply: as a protest she stopped painting, refused to show her works on exhibitions.

All in all, the 1960s were a very changing period in the history of the US. Certain political and social events have shaped this country and made it such it is today. The Conceptual and Performance representatives showed a high interest in social life of the USA and patriotic commitment. Artists through their sculptures, photos, pictures strove to convey an important message to the society.

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