Tendencies Inspiring The Beat Generation
Instructor: Ralph A. Parente Jr.
Art 121 B1: Contemporary Art
26 February 2012
Tendencies Inspiring The Beat Generation
A new forefront came about in the early 1940s, first and foremost in New York, where a small group of slightly associated artists created a stylistically varied body of work that brought forward drastic new guidelines in art and altered the art world’s center of attention. Never a formal connection, the artists recognized as “Abstract Expressionists” or “The New York School” did, on the other hand, share some common ideas. Among others, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, to name a few, searched for significant content using formal inventions. Parting their way from established conventions in both method and subject matter, the artists made impressively large works that stood as examples of their individual state of mind.
The first generation of Abstract Expressionism bloomed between 1943 and the mid-‘50s. The movement successfully moved the art world’s center of attention from Europe to New York in the years just after World War II. The paintings were seen commonly in traveling exhibitions and during publications. In the rise of Abstract Expressionism, new generations of artists, both American and European, were highly recognized by the breakthroughs completed by the first generation, and went on to build their own significant expressions based on, but not copied, from those who led the way.
The connecting theme with art from the Beat Generation is the element of association. Musicians, poets, artists, filmmakers, and dancers all mingled together, which sounds to me like an amazing experience to be a part of. The Beat Generation was mainly made possible by the trend of artist-driven establishments that started forming in San Francisco in the early 1950s. The series of accommodating galleries, City Lights Bookstore, City Lights might be the most respected bookstore in the world, founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in the early 1950s. Even the California School of Fine Arts (a school of higher education in contemporary art), all helped the achievement of the Beat Generation and its versatile artists leave a mark culturally.
To the artists of the Beat Generation, residing in the Bay Area allowed them the independence necessary to experiment, concentrate and make artistic advancements. Jay DeFeo’s The Rose
and its time-consuming creation distinguish the attitudes of the Beat artists and their commitment to craft. DeFeo began work on “The Rose” which, concealed in her studio, she worked on constantly for seven years. By the time it was finished, the crusty painting was an 11-by-8-foot object that reached a depth of 11 inches in some areas and weighed some 3,000 pounds. As probably the most important Beat Generation painting of the Bay Area, “The Rose” reflected the San Francisco Beat Generation’s interest in Eastern thinking, as well as in common materials. DeFeo introduced bits of glass and beads into the thick-skinned oil painting, skewing the lines linking painting, sculpture and assembly.
Just as they were occurring on the West Coast, activities began to surface in newly created establishments on the East Coast. Cafes, bookstores and galleries were gathering places for artists, poets and writers to contribute to ideas and show their work. Jack Kerouac, John Cage, and the Black Mountain College (an experimental school founded in the middle of the twentieth century on the principles of balancing academics, arts, and manual labor within a democratic, communal society to create “complete” people), students and teachers joined together with performance and exhibitions comparable to those happening on the West Coast. Publications such as the Village Voice and articles in the New York Times and the Evergreen Review brought critical awareness to the movement in New York. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Jim Dine were given shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Jim Dine’s Car Crash Happening at the Judson Gallery, and the first jazz/poetry readings of the Brata Gallery were a sign of the importance of conducting tests and teamwork in contemporary art. The interdisciplinary switching of artistic thoughts spread across the country announcing a new era of creative expression.
From what I have gathered through this reading, The Beat Generation was a literary movement that came about in the early 1950s and ended in the 1960s in the United States. In the fiftieth, a group of young American writers came to the center of attention of the media and instantly started a trend. It was not only a writing style, but a lifestyle as well, a trend that marked the age. Terms used at the time such as “beatnik”, “beat”, and “beat generation” (exhausted ) were part of the latest American jargon, defining “bad boys” in hostility to the establishment. They abused drugs, practiced free sex, jazz, loved life on the road, and read poetry in jam-packed student apartments and café’s of Greenwich Village and San Francisco. The Beat Generation left only a few unforgettable works, but all the same, it was enough to mark an era of philosophical or even psychological changes in American culture. A great time to live!
(n.d.). Retrieved from Jackson Pollock: http://www.jackson-pollock.com/
(n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2012, from The A/V Club: http://www.avclub.com/
(n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2012, from The Art Story: http://www.theartstory.org/index.html
Jay De Feo. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://natsoulas.com/beat/jayFeo/index.html
The Critical Moment. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2008 – 07/duelingduo.html