By Jennifer Sloat
It has been 50 years since the Summer of Love. It was a time that pushed the boundaries of music, art and society and had many feeling groovy and putting flowers in their hair. A half-century later that era still fascinates us.
The Heckscher Museum will explore that era through art with its latest exhibition titled From Frankenthaler to Warhol: Art of the ’60s and ’70s.
According to the museum, the exhibit, which opens this Saturday, delves into two trends that defined the art of the times and stretched the definition of fine art: abstract works that explore line, shape and color; and representational art on subjects from popular culture to everyday urban and suburban environments. Color field, minimalist, pop and photorealist works speak to the myriad styles that characterized the art world during the dynamic decades of the ’60s and ’70s.
In a recent interview, the museum’s curator, Lisa Chalif, said the time period was a watershed in American history and that many of the issues of the ’60s and ’70s continue to exist today. “The exhibition showcases the depth of The Heckscher Museum’s permanent collection. A good number of these works have not been exhibited for a while,” she said.
Andy Warhol’s soup can and Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-inspired images are among the works of art featured. The galleries will include iconic images from art legends Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Romare Bearden and May Stevens. There will be a total of 42 pieces on display.
“This generation of artists solidified America’s dominance of the international art world,” said Chalif, “They stretched the definition of fine art by using images from consumer culture and experimenting with processes such as silk screen, previously used in commercial applications.”
During this time, more women and African-American artists entered the mainstream art world as well, bringing fresh perspectives to modern subjects.
The art and music scene often intertwined in that era, and, fittingly, the museum will have a ’60s and ’70s soundtrack as the backdrop for the exhibit. “The show will be bright, colorful and fun,” Chalif continued. “We’ll have a photographic time line highlighting social, political and cultural events of the period, as well as music from the period in the galleries.”
The exhibit will be on view Nov. 18 through March 11. An opening reception for museum members and guests will be held on Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit, two Gallery Talks will be held. On Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. art historian Thomas Germano will present a lecture titled “Andy Warhol and the Soup Can School,” and author and music historian Tom Ryan will present “How Music Changed History: 1960’s and 70’s” on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.
The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave. in Huntington. For hours, prices and more information, call 631-351-3250 or visit www.heckscher.org.
Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum