Yayoi Kusama, Anatomic Explosion on Wall Street 1968
Now that the penultimate season of everyone’s favorite basic-cable soap opera with the we-know-what’s-coming historical backstory is drawing to a close, it’s worth pondering a question. No, not whether Bob Benson is gay, or where he learned to speak Spanish with such a lousy accent. Rather, what the 1960s meant to New York’s art world. Those were the years, after all, that ushered out Abstract Expressionism and ushered in Pop Art, Op Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Earth Art, Installation Art, Body Art, Process Art, Performance Art (like Yayoi Kusama’s sybaritic gathering, pictured above), Video Art and first-wave Feminist Art. The ’60s represented New York’s high-water mark as the world’s art capital, and many of the artistic innovations created here during that period continue to serve as contemporary-art templates, no matter where the art is made (and today that can mean anywhere from Shanghai to Mexico City, Berlin to Kuala Lumpur). In ways large and small, the decade altered New York’s art world as radically as it did America itself. TONY takes a look at some of the people, places and trends that put Gotham’s art scene through heavy changes.