March 4, 2015
Responding to “The Responsive Eye”: A Santa Fe Gallery
Showcases Op Art’s Thriving Legacy, 03/04/2015
Heather Corcoran


Responding to “The Responsive Eye”: A Santa Fe Gallery
Showcases Op Art’s Thriving Legacy, 03/04/2015
Heather Corcoran

It’s hard to imagine now—with op art’s place so firmly established in the canon of 20th-century avant-garde movements—that when the first major museum survey of the style opened, an editor from the New York Times wrote a letter denouncing the paper’s own glowing review of the movement. But that’s just what happened when the exhibition “The Responsive Eye” opened at MoMA in 1965.

Now, 50 years later, that era-defining exhibition is the starting point for a series of shows at Santa Fe’s David Richard Gallery, the first of which, “Post-Op: ‘The Responsive Eye’ Fifty Years After” brings together more than 34 objects by 17 artists dealing with issues at the heart of op.

The original exhibition was so groundbreaking that it drew more than 180,000 onlookers to take in this curious new style, where images seemed to jump and move depending on how the viewer looked at them. The effect was so jarring that museum guards were given permission to wear sunglasses. New York Times critic John Canaday heralded the exhibition, which was organized by William C. Seitz and featured geometric abstractions from artists ranging from British artist Bridget Riley to former Josef Albers student Richard Anuszkiewicz, as “one of the most exciting artistic events in a decade.”

In response, Times staffer Lester Markel wrote his rebuttal in the paper and later spoke to television reporter Mike Wallace, criticizing the form: “It is fascinating as a technique, but it is not art at all.” While the show was divisive, one thing was certain: with its crisp, clean lines and high-tech appeal op was the perfect visual expression for the space age—and the style was quickly adopted by the worlds of fashion and advertising.

The new show at David Richard Gallery looks beyond the basic definition of op art to investigate the ways artists have explored visual perception over the past half century. The artists included in the gallery show were participants in the original “Responsive Eye” exhibition, including Hannes Beckmann, Tadasky and Anuszkiewicz, and the exhibition looks at works made right up to the present day that showcase these pioneers’ continuing interest in the relationship between art and optics. Throughout the year the gallery will expand the scope of its investigations into op, looking at other artists who embody the spirit of the movement today.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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