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Friday, November 2, 2012

HENRY GELDZAHLER AND POP ART

roy lichtenstein



Today's video was a fairly collage-like documentary of art and artists in NY. 1950-1970. I liked about the film that it caught the spirit of the time and place, post-WW2 New York, the abstract expressionist period, emphasis in the film on the flow into Pop then minimalism unto conceptualism, the last years of the Modern period that began with Impressionism. The film looked at the art of this period through the point of view of Henry Geldzahler, a museum curator who involved himself in the art of the time visiting new artists, getting to know them, finding out what they were doing, discovering a new spirit among younger artists in the time Abstract Expressionism was finally being recognized as valid art, then the oncoming of Pop that Geldzahler recognized as the next new thing. I remember his name from the art press of the time, books on Pop I read to find out about the new are that had the abstract expressionist painters calling it propaganda and anything else they could think of. Abstraction was soft-edged and Pop was hard-edged, a major difference in the time, a difference the abstractionists pointed to as invalid in painting.

Pop was possibly the first art period of the Modern era that caught the public eye. There were long lines of people waiting to get into a show of the new Pop artists. I went to New York in the time and saw a huge show of Pop with hundreds of people milling about, talking about particular sculptures and paintings with an excited awe. I felt it too. It was fun. It was nutty. It was off the wall. A show of Abstract Expressionists was serious. It was an intellectual art form. It embraced existentialism. It was pure art, expression as it happened. Pop popped the bubble of intellectual art that you had to read Nietzsche to really get it, Unamuno too. The spirit of pop broke the line between high art and low art. Pop made high art by incorporating low art, like rock n roll in the way it incorporates other musics. Anything that gets close to it, rock incorporates. Pop was open to finding art everywhere you look, like the grocery store, the beach, the sidewalk, store fronts, graffiti, beer cans. Geldzahler created exhibitions, bought for museums, connected artists with collectors and created his own collection.

Henry Geldzahler's name was as well known in that time as one of the artists. He was most widely known as somebody who appreciated Andy Warhol's work when few got it. Geldzahler created the Modern collection in the Metropolitan. The day I went to the Met, I was awed by what I saw when I stepped into the space.

I have to stop. The blogger site has an interface that seldom works. Tonight it is not working AGAIN.

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