Exhibition Ideas

Covers of the short-lived underground newspaper of the 60s, the San Francisco  Oracle , which in 1966 Kurt considered the world’s most beautiful newspaper .

Covers of the short-lived underground newspaper of the 60s, the San Francisco Oracle, which in 1966 Kurt considered the world’s most beautiful newspaper .

INSTANT SHOWS:

  • Drawings of John Lennon. Some published by Simon and Schuster in his books, In His Own Write, and A Spaniard in the Works.

  • Top billboards of the year. Perhaps combined with top magazine ads, top TV commercials. Obviously some of the greatest American creative talents are involved with these media.

  • Commercial neon. One step beyond the implications of Dan Flavin. E.g. the signs, the Scony-Vacuum flying red horse, the non-specific flashing signs especially seen way-out-West (extending the "Art" context of Robert Indiana), and the major masterpieces in front of Las Vegas saloons and casinos.

  • Architectural drawings. E.g. the sketchbooks of Paolo Soleri, who hasn't built much, but whose sketchbooks are terribly impressive: loaded with a complex personal philosophical approach important enough to be documented, but also magnificent rendering of architectural concepts.

  • Psychedelic art posters. Especially from San Francisco advertising the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Street Auditorium; bright young graphics, and part of a potentially rich, and undeniably vital new trend.

  • Underground typography. Related to the "psychedelic" movement. This could grow into a major documentary of the influences of Dada work. E.g. the Oracle newspaper (the world's most beautiful), publications of the Something Else Press in New York, Gaberbocchus in London, and others.

  • Kustom Kars. An LA phenomenon, but with national significance in conditioning the aesthetics of an entire generation, today's culturally powerful teenie-boppers. After the "hot rods" of the 1940s there developed a new trend of sculptural innovation like a fibreglas Baroque. Tremendous influence on the Southern California aesthetic stance of sculptors by the giants of the movement: Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, George Barris, Von Dutch Holland.

  • Macrosculpture. Cranes and road-grading equipment: the only pieces likely to stand up, in terms of scale, in the MOMA courtyard. Get them brand new, with bright yellow paint.

MORE SUBSTANTIAL/DEMANDING PROJECTS:

  • Art of William Daniels. Probably the greatest of living cinematographers.

  • International development of Abstract Expressionism. Also some work to be done in evaluating/documenting the so-called second generation AE painters.

  • Twentieth century portraiture. "'With key media-shift to films.

  • Impact of Japan on the west. From FLW through Graves and Tobey to the neo-Zen hippies, plenty in between, such as sources of Bauhaus aesthetics, Julius Bissier

  • Art and Extensions. Different, but related to Art as a Mirror concept. Picabia's Mona Lisa would fit both, as would Duchamp's "original" statement. Emphasis not on works of art as the subject matter of other works, so much the extensions of the same principles involved; this sometimes directly (consciously) relates the specific works too. E.g. Iain Baxter, Richard Pettibone in LA.

  • Duchampiana. The radiating impact of Marcel Duchamp; possibilities for similar post-retrospective exhibitions. Could be both specific, in terms of the art historian's concept of Einfluss and broader, involving directions initiated by Duchamp and followed up by others.

  • Material explosion of twentieth century sculpture. We started out with bronze and marble (plus some wood) as the defining materials for the medium of sculpture. The explosion involved the less noble metals (iron) sometimes via the not-so-Fine arts, e.g. Gonzales the ironmonger, Art Nouveau. Schwitters and early Cubist collages are key, plastics by Russians, then the real force of the explosion through synthetics, each with their respective realm of potential.

  • The "motion-picture" and the problem of the "point of view." Related to the theme of my C.A.A. talk (one of the themes): time, or motion, as the third dimension (in addition to the two dimensions of conventional painting), that comes to replace (illusionary) space. The critical event in the 19th century, for this tradition, is the sacrifice of the point of view, so essential to the painting since the Renaissance and its insistence upon a system of perspective. The camera really assumes this point of view function--for technological reasons, i.e. the physics of light and lenses. Motion and time become the content of painting then, instead of concerns with space. An important idea to work out and to document with appropriate key works, including early photography studies, especially Eakins, Muy­bridge in America.

  • The guitar. An obviously Freudian, but also intriguingly humorous (at times) visual symbol that has come to have a major cultural significance particu­larly in the last five years. Its history goes back to Cubist painting, Monet to Watteau, and even as far back as the pre-Cycladic figures, perhaps. Carl Belz (at Mills College, Princeton Ph.D. dissertation on Man Ray) has done some other work on this idea.

  • Contemporary art in the Antipodes. Australia and New Zealand have produced some artists of interest in the last decade or so. A compact, high-quality representation of this work might be possible and of value.

  • Young English art. Some students at thin R.C.A. are probably better than the more established English-British painters. Sculpture may be a different situation, but there the lead of Caro, et. al. is healthy. Needs investigating. Other areas, where I would like to find new work include South America and Africa. Walter Hopps has related promising accounts of Brazilian artists, particu­larly "happenings" groups in Sao Paulo. I lectured for a State Department project with Brazilian students at UCLA last month, and some anticipations were further aroused, although no practicing artists were among the group. Africa might be even more promising, but it will take a few more years, no?

  • San Francisco Bay Area sculpture. Strong work with Paris, Voulkos, Hudson & more.

  • Los Angeles. The pie could be cut two or three ways for smaller shows, or be a major survey. Some problems with including S.F. artists maybe.

  • Violence and Destruction in art. Has an overlooked history, and may be a major new direction. I'm going to the next International Symposium, it appears. Is there any reason why the MOMA should wait until others have done it first?

Then there are always the shows focused upon individuals. Easy to list names. Maybe hard to do really significant shows though. How about Leonard Dubinsky? (The art ghost of Leonardo down through the ages, to the Last Supper at Forest Lawn).

Kurt von Meier
Circa 1966