1960s Art- Rachel Smalle

I visited the 1960s exhibit in the Modern Museum of Art last month, but I mostly ran through it.* This time I focused more on the pieces and contexts. One is greeted at first by the presence of the Jaguar, an iconic automobile of the 1960s. It is tame in comparison to much of the art that inhabits each room. A reaction to the oppressive 1950s and the mainstream pop-culture of the 1960s, some of the art can be shocking, such as a wax made to look like a slab of rotting meet. Some of it criticize popular consumption, like the pieces of Andy Warhol Some of it speaks to the protest movements at the time; they reflect the fight for gender and racial equality, as well as the anti-Vietnam movement.

One such piece was a German documentary about the effects of Agent Orange. I stood watching as a dead rat caught flame, thinking of the famous image of the crying young girl running with soldiers behind her. As the rat caught flame, I noticed that a group of kids had walked in, and their parents had mostly shuffled them away from the documentary. One stood watching, eyes wide. I do not know if she understood the context, but it is interesting to know that this documentary can still have an effect on people. It was made to shock, and to force people to confront the horrors of war.

Of course, there were Andy Warhol pieces to be found. We are no less consumers of popular culture than we were in his time. His paintings of Marilyn Monroe still hold meaning in our era when one thinks how we idolize celebrities today. Indeed, like many of the pieces found in this exhibit, it is extremely relevant today. Not a Warhol piece, but reminiscent of it somehow, is the piece “Love,” by Marisol. It features a coke bottle in someone’s mouth.  Of course, coke is still around today, and something we see advertisements for all the time. Her criticism of its mass consumption still holds meaning.



* I focused on another specific piece, which I wrote up a response to on the Museum Website.





« »