Woodstock: Art and the 1960s Counterculture

On August 4th I gave a talk in Woodstock, NY, at the Kleinert / James Center for the Arts about the town’s intertwined histories of art and the counterculture. The program was generously co-sponsored by the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, the Historical Society of Woodstock, Maverick Concerts, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the Woodstock Artists Association. Here was the description of the talk: 

Woodstock: the word is shorthand for the 1960s counterculture. Artists as well as writers and musicians contributed to Woodstock’s reputation as a bohemian enclave. As early as 1952 experimental composer John Cage debuted his (in)famous 4’33” — four-and-half minutes of silence. Inspired by Cage, avant-garde artist Allan Kaprow staged a 1962 “Happening” in the forests outside Woodstock for which sculptor Eva Hesse made her first three-dimensional piece. Gerd Stern, an intermedia pioneer and founder of the experimental art collective USCO, moved to Woodstock in 1964. In the late 1960s New York School painter Philip Guston moved to Maverick Road to reinvent his practice. This lecture will explore Woodstock as a ferment of art, experimentation, and creativity in the 1960s, a period in which artists as much as writers and musicians contributed to a growing counterculture opposed to mainstream values.






Flesh: The Art of Ivan Albright

July 17 – Fullerton Hall – The Art Institute of Chicago 

Members Lecture, “Flesh: The Art of Ivan Albright” 

The lecture introduced Albright’s life and work, with a
thematic focus on his controversial and provocative treatment of the human body
throughout his career. 


Art Institute Block Party

The Art Institute of Chicago hosted a daylong “block party” celebrating the impact of Chicago art and design on American culture through talks, performances, and art making. The party filled the galleries, gardens, library, and public spaces. 

I joined print curator Mark Pascale for a show-and-tell event in the Prints and Drawings room, where we discussed prints produced under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project in the 1930s and early 40s. Works on displays included etchings, lithographs, and screenprints by printmakers such as Ida Abelman, Hugo Gellert, Blanche Grambs, Carl Hoeckner, Louis Lozowick, Elizabeth Olds, Harry Sternberg, Dox Thrash. 



Fleshing Out Ivan Albright

May 18 - Art Institute of Chicago

I joined Kelly Keegan, Associate Conservator of Paintings, to explore Flesh: Ivan Albright through both curatorial and conservation lenses.  

Photo credits: Art Institute of Chicago



An Unfurling: People in This Town!

April 25, 2018 - Harold Washington Library

In anticipation of the summer exhibitions Charles White : A Retrospective and Never a Lovely So Real : Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950 - 1980 and in tandem with the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago 2018 selection, I’ll Take You There,
the Art Institute of Chicago and media sponsor WBEZ 91.5 celebrate
activism in Chicago with music, show-and-tell, and art making. 

Join special guests Ayana Contreras, John Corbett, Terri Kapsalis, Tracy
Drake, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Nicole Marroquin and John Murphy as we
highlight the vital role our city plays in American creativity as well
as the ways artists participate in the struggle for civil rights.

© John P. Murphy
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