probably a very good thing

If you missed the birth of Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Pop Art, Minimalism, the rise of Conceptual and Process Art, The New Realism, even Grafitti Art, all because you weren't born yet (or maybe because your parents weren't born yet!) or just because you were elsewhere engaged, don't miss this one. Stop by John Connelly Presents tomorrow evening and be a part of your time.

It doesn't have a name yet, and that's probably a very good thing, but in the NYTimes on Friday Roberta Smith tried to describe the current unfolding arts phenomenon. She did alright.

Group shows are proliferating all over town, especially in Chelsea, with more opening this week and next. But the energy of this year's explosion transcends format. New York seems to be having a Summer of Art not unlike the 1967 Summer of Love in its liberating effects. Mark my words, or those of an astute junior observer who simply termed it "our June 2003 moment." Whatever, it's still going strong this weekend with an array of artworks, curatorial ideas and aesthetic developments that reveal the quickening, centrifugal vitality of contemporary art, a result of several combustible collisions or collusions.

One way to put it is that the "Return of the Real," as the critic Hal Foster noted in the late 1980's, is being met head on by the "Return of the Formal," most visibly in the prominence of saturated color that runs through these shows like a radiant thread (as it does through this year's Venice Biennale).

From another angle, the counterculture and avant-garde tendencies of the late 60's and early 70's continue their fruitful interaction. That is, the handicrafts, scavenging, sexual openness, psychedelic palette, body decorations and druggy spirituality of the hippie era are being given backbone by the reductivist tendencies, material eccentricities and political consciousness of Conceptual Art and Process Art.

Design and architecture are part of the mix, as are continuing variations on Grafitti Art. There is a fuller embrace of the Pleasure Principle, which is perhaps the most important legacy of popular culture. Artists want to have fun, but not just fun. Call it responsible hedonism. Op Art's revenge.

Implicit is a free-flowing equality of media, mixed or unmixed. Video has assumed the very position into which it forced painting in the late 1980's: it is now one among many means of expression. Artists are developing so many distinctive and individual ways of working with it that often you barely see it anymore. Finally, in all mediums, collage, sampling, appropriation, bricolage, recycling — call it what you will — continues to mutate and expand as an artistic strategy, an ecological statement and a metaphor for inclusiveness.

John Connelly opens a very special group show tonight at 6 o'clock, called "Today's Man." You won't be able to get into the gallery space itself if you're shy about human contact, but the huge hot and happy crowd will hold down the hall as well, so you won't be lonely.

From John's press release:

"Today's Man" is an exhibition of mostly small works on paper and canvas (paintings, collages, drawings etc. but no photography) and consists solely of representations of men by male artists. The relatively small scale of the works (almost all are less than 18 x 18 inches) is a purposeful inversion of what one might normally associate with the stereotype of the patriarchal grand canvas.
So maybe it's ok if it's just about guys this time.

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Published on July 19, 2003 1:10 AM.

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