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Sixties Explosion

Page last published: 17 Sep 2012

Framed within a sociopolitical context against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the exhibition Sixties Explosion will convey the multiplicity of practice that was taking place throughout this time with a Sydney focus − from avant-garde practice linked to the new abstraction, installation, film and happenings to the wide use of anti-art material aligned to the new philosophies surrounding the meaning of art.  

Sixties Explosion runs from 18 September to 31 October 2012 at the Macquarie University Art Gallery (Building E11A).

Emerging from the shackles of the post-war conservative government led by Menzies, Australia in the 1960s signalled a period of sweeping change and upheaval. The arrival of the counter-culture revolution upon Australian shores during the ‘60s turned art on its head, radicalised fashion and brought popular music to the fore through the import of internationalism.  It was a time when the younger generation found a voice, at times united in dissent protesting against the ensuing Vietnam War and other times the articulation of their hopes in creating positive change for the future defied and questioned authority. The eclipse of the artist as hero and art as commodity interrogated the very nature of art itself where new concepts and approaches to art challenged prevailing ideas and norms.

In such changing times, The Antipodeans attempt to retain monopoly in upholding the traditions of figurative painting based upon a nationalist ethos were thwarted. Minimalism arrived and removed depth and any evidence of the artist’s hand from the work. Pop Art soon followed dismantling the distinction of high and low art. Flat, unmixed colour, television advertising, photographs, hard edged abstraction and junk art, all a direct response to the development of mass production, were just some of the new ideas flowing.

Art was no longer considered a literal, descriptive medium, but its transformation from fine art to a non-conformist practice opened up new possibilities and level of experimentation that defied art’s categorisation.  The foray into using new materials enabled a whole generation of artists to explore investigative realms that questioned what it meant to be alive and what was happening in that moment. The Boeing generation aided the international flow of ideas and events, as did the new found technology and scientific discoveries being made during this period.  Anything seemed possible and artists were determined to open people’s mind to these possibilities.

Artist’s include: Sydney Ball, Margaret Benyon, Vivienne Binns, Mike Brown, Christo, Max Cullen, Janet Dawson, James Doolin, Roger Foley-Fogg aka Elli D Fogg, Juno Gemes, Mike Glasheen, Royston Harpur, Col Jordan, Colin Lanceley, Richard Larter, Alun Leach-Jones, Sandra Leveson, Margo Lewers, Tony McGillick, Ian Milliss, Harald Noritis, Wendy Paramor, John Peart, Ken Reinhard, Martin Sharp, Garry Shead, Rollin Schlicht, Joseph Szabo, Albie Thoms, Vernon Treweeke, John White, Brett Whiteley, Dick Watkins and Arthur Wicks.

Curators: Rhonda Davis, Kate Hargraves and Leonard Janiszewski