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Art museum to feature artists from the ‘50s and ‘60s

The WSU Museum of Art will exhibit “Art & Context: the 1950s and ‘60s,” Sept. 29
Dec. 15. There will be a public reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 in the Museum of Art.

Museum of Art Director, Chris Bruce said, “This exhibition is a special opportunity for our community to experience some of the building blocks of contemporary art
16 works by some of the most significant artists of the time, representing the four primary styles of the ‘50s and ‘60s: Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, Pop and Minimalism. It is from the strength of their work that succeeding generations of artists were provided a distinct array of options of what art could look like and what content it could hold.”

Featured artists include Carl Andre, Larry Bell, Alexander Calder, Willem deKooning, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol.

Bruce said perhaps the most profound aspect of the exhibit is seeing the shift that took place in the art of the early 1960s. “It was arguably the most radical change from one generation to another in the history of art. Abstract Expressionism represented an intense investigation of ‘art about art’ (the primacy of paint as private, existential expression), where Pop and Minimalism were ‘art about non-art’ (common every day imagery such as soup cans and comic books, and industrial materials such as steel plates). The ramifications of this time are still apparent today
an art world defined as pluralistic, in which virtually any imagery or material is fair game.”

The “context” aspect of the exhibit will feature large historical timelines of the 1950s and ‘60s displayed alongside the work. Keith Wells, Museum of Art/WSU curator said, “The exhibit features student work that helped develop the panels which will allow viewers, especially those who might not have been around at the time, an opportunity to further understand what was happening during that turbulent period in American history. It’s simply a way of seeing what was happening in the world when these special pieces were created
a history lesson of sorts.”

There will be a full-color trade book produced for the exhibit by Marquand Books of Seattle. The 80
page publication, “Art & Context: the ‘50s and ‘60s,” includes essays by Museum of Art/WSU Director, Chris Bruce and Museum of Art/WSU Curator, Keith Wells, as well as contributions by WSU Professor of Sociology, Nella Van Dyke and Washington State University Provost and Academic Vice President Robert Bates. This will be the third book produced by the Museum of Art in three years.

Bates states in his foreword from the book, “This very special project brings together great works of art viewed within the context of a period of dynamic change in American art and society. It is a fitting representation of the Museum of Art’s ambition to make world-class examples of creativity and innovation accessible to our audiences and to celebrate Washington State University’s goal of nurturing interdisciplinary learning opportunities through the arts.”

There will be a number of special events and lectures held in conjunction with the exhibit. For a complete list of events, go to the Museum of Art/WSU homepage at: and click on Special Events.

Open to the public at no charge, gallery hours are Monday
Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., open until 7 p.m. on Thursday and closed on Sunday.

This exhibit was made possible through the generous loans of collectors from all over the state. The Museum of Art would like to thank, Jane and David Davis, Robert and Shake Sarkis, Herman and Faye Sarkowsky, Jon and Mary Shirley, Richard Weisman, Virginia and Bagley Wright and the Museum of Art/WSU. Without your special contributions this exhibit would have never taken place.

The Museum of Art would also like to recognize the major individual contributions of Robert and Winona Nilan, Richard and Constance Albrecht, Jack and Janet Creighton, Timothy Manring, H.S. Wright III and the Friends of the Museum of Art.

Program funding provided by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Committee (VPLAC), and the Washington State Arts Commission.

For more information, please contact the Museum of Art/WSU at (509) 335-1910 or visit the WSU Museum of Art Web Site at:

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