Addison Gallery of American Art
ADDISON TO PRESENT REVOLUTION OF THE EYE: MODERN ART AND THE BIRTH OF AMERICAN TELEVISION THIS SPRING
Exhibition explores how cutting-edge art and design influenced the look and content of early network television
Andover, Mass., February 17, 2016 – Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television, the first exhibition to explore how avant-garde art influenced the look and content of network television in its formative years, will be on view at the Addison Gallery of American Art April 9–July 31, 2016. From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, aesthetically adventurous pioneers of American television adopted modernism as a source of inspiration. Revolution of the Eye looks at how the dynamic new medium of television, in its risk-taking and aesthetic experimentation, paralleled and embraced cutting-edge art and design.
The Addison is the third venue for the traveling exhibition, organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Revolution of the Eye is curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, Research Professor and Chief Curator, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC, and Curator, National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, The Jewish Museum.
Revolution of the Eye vividly presents the little-known story about the cultural and social context into which television was born and the direct influence of avant-garde artists on the formative years of a medium whose powerful impact on our lives remains pervasive. “Many critics speak of present-day television as kind of a new golden age in which the medium is seen to have surpassed film as a major venue for artistic experimentation and quality,” says exhibition curator Maurice Berger. “Revolution of the Eye reminds us that the desire for outstanding, artistically important programming was in television’s DNA from the beginning,” he added.
Highlighting the visual revolution ushered in by American television and modernist art and design of the 1950s and 1960s, Revolution of the Eye presents more than 260 art objects, artifacts, and clips. Fine art and graphic design, including works by Saul Bass, Marcel Duchamp, Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol, as well as ephemera, television memorabilia, and clips from historic television programs and film, including Batman, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Twilight Zone, will be on view.
The exhibition looks at television’s facility as a promotional platform for modern artists, designers, and critics; its role as a committed patron of the work of modern artists and designers; and as a medium whose relevance in contemporary culture was validated by the Museum of Modern Art’s historic Television Project (1952–55) which worked with the networks to produce programs on modern art for a broad audience and apply modernist ideals to the look of television.
Early on, television opened its doors to appearances by avant-garde artists – from John Cage performing a musical composition on I’ve Got a Secret to Salvador Dali as the mystery guest on What’s My Line. Revolution of the Eye examines the diverse ways modern artists, designers, and critics used the medium as a significant vehicle for self-promotion to a broad national audience. Viewers will experience rare clips of Cage, Dali, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Ray Eames, Roy Lichtenstein, Ben Shahn, George Segal, and other renowned artists.
Modern art and graphic design inspired television production and promotions. This inspiration was evident in a range of television practices, from set design and stagecraft to marketing and promotional campaigns. Revolution of the Eye explores the progressive design campaign of the CBS Television Network as one of the most esteemed of any American corporation. CBS art directors William Golden and Lou Dorfsman created an innovative shift in shaping the company’s corporate identity, moving design away from self-expression to a public communication tool that stimulated interest in the network and its programming.
Also examined are the revolutionary corporate advertising and promotional campaigns and title sequences for films and television series created by graphic designer Saul Bass, including
virtually unknown opening credits for Playhouse 90, a bold title sequence for the NBC anthology series Profiles in Courage, and a dynamic campaign for IBM. The “New Advertising” revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, which ushered in one of the most creative periods of the medium in the United States, is highlighted, including Andy Warhol and Ben Shahn’s advertising and promotional campaigns for CBS.
One gallery in the exhibition is devoted to Warhol. The artist viewed television as an extension of his creative and political practice as an award-winning designer for CBS and NBC in the early 1950s, as a performer on network television programs and commercials, and as a cable-television producer. Including films Warhol made for TV as well as video clips featuring the artist on TV, the exhibition illustrates television’s role in giving Warhol access to his “fifteen minutes”—the period in the spotlight to which each person, he believed, was entitled.
In celebration of the exhibition, the Addison invites the public to attend an opening reception on Friday, April 8, from 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the museum. On Sunday, May 1, at 1:00 p.m., Dr. Lynn Spigel, Frances E. Willard Professor of Screen Cultures at Northwestern University, will present “Modern Art and the Rise of Network Television” The events are free. For information, please visit www.addisongallery.org or call 978-749-4015.
The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, is open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Sunday 1:00–5:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on Monday. Admission to all exhibitions and events is free. The Addison Gallery also offers free education programs for teachers and groups. For more information, call 978-749-4015, or visit the website at www.addisongallery.org.
National Exhibition Tour: The Jewish Museum, New York City (May 1–Sept. 27, 2015); NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, FL (Oct. 25, 2015–Jan. 10, 2016); The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA (Apr. 9, 2016–July 31, 2016); Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) (Oct. 20, 2016–Jan. 8, 2017); Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (Feb. 16, 2017–June 11, 2017); and additional venues.
Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center of Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The exhibition is made possible by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions, the Stern Family Philanthropic Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other generous donors.
Generous support for the Addison’s presentation of this exhibition has been provided by the Sidney R. Knafel Fund.
Accompanying the exhibition is a 156-page hardcover catalogue published by the Jewish Museum, New York City and Center for Art Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, by Maurice Berger with introduction by Lynn Spigel, in association with Yale University Press. The catalogue will be available at the Addison Museum Shop.
About the Addison Gallery of American Art
Devoted exclusively to American art, the mission of the Addison Gallery of American Art is to acquire, preserve, interpret, and exhibit works of art for the education and enjoyment of all. Opened in 1931, the Addison has one of the most important collections of American art in the country that includes more than 17,000 works by prominent artists such as George Bellows, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock, as well as photographers Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and many more. The Addison Gallery, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, offers a continually rotating series of exhibitions and programs, all of which are free and open to the public. For more information, call 978.749.4015, or visit the website at www.addisongallery.org.
About the Jewish Museum
Located on Museum Mile at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, the Jewish Museum is one of the world’s preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary, offering intellectually engaging, educational, and provocative exhibitions and programs for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of over 30,000 works of art, artifacts, and broadcast media reflecting global Jewish identity, and presents a
diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed temporary exhibitions. For information on the Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at TheJewishMuseum.org.
About the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC) at UMBC is dedicated to organizing comprehensive exhibitions, the publication of catalogs, CDs, DVDs, and books on the arts, and educational and community outreach projects. The CADVC maintains a 4,200 square-foot museum space dedicated to the exhibition of art and design, moving images, and material culture; many of its exhibitions have toured nationally and internationally to major venues. The Center’s programs serve as a forum for exploring the social and aesthetic issues of the day. The Center is committed to rethinking the relationship between art institutions and the public, placing special emphasis on well-written, viewer-friendly catalog and wall texts, rigorously documented and researched catalogs, lucid application of cultural and social theory to build connections between visual culture and the society at large, and creative exhibition and publication design.
The CADVC offers extensive educational outreach initiatives and publication programs, often in partnership with a variety of educational and cultural institutions. Disciplines represented through its exhibitions, public programming, and/or publications include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, graphic design, imaging and digital art, video, film, installation, and performance art, as well as advertising, television, industrial design, architecture, critical theory, art education theory, and the study of art history and criticism. Further information is at www.umbc.edu/cadvc.