Another weekend spent with my mother; next weekend will be Labor Day and it'll mark the end of summer. This has not been an easy summer. Yesterday (Saturday, August 29) my mother and i watched the news coverage of Ted Kennedy's funeral.
Last week, one of the movies that opened was "Taking Woodstock" directed by Ang Lee. On Thursday, August 20, there was a reception at the UBS Gallery for a retrospective exhibition of Jack Tworkov; it was one of the few artworld events of the last year. Mary Heilman, Chuck Close, Maureen O'Connor, David Diao, Amanda Church, Charlie Finch were among the people spotted in the crowd.
The occasion for the exhibition was the publication of selected writings by Tworkov (by Yale University Press); Mira Schor is the editor. Tworkov was a fascinating artist: he began in the 1930s as a realist of the American scene, and then by the 1940s became an abstractionist; by the 1960s, he had already moved into geometric abstraction. As an artist, he was continually evolving his style. The kind of inventiveness of his career seems to be so typical of the New York School of artists, especially of the 1950s and 1960s; but by the end of the 1960s, many younger artists (Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, et al) began to have retrospectives at major museums, and this caused an early calcification of their styles. They began to become associated with a specific product, and they became manufacturers of that product. (It was like this spring, when the Whitney had that Oldenburg show, and Oldenburg was asked if there were any new objects which caught his imagination, and he said no. Computers, cell-phones, i-pods: his mind remains in the 1950s, with the old typewriters, erasers, irons.)
Someone i ran into at the Tworkov reception was saying that there's a lot of interest in the artworld of the 1960s. In the NY Times Book Review, there's a review of a book by Jenny Diski, "The Sixties", yet another memoir about that era. The reviewer, Elsa Dixler, makes the point that the political perspective from England is very different: in the US, there were the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist and gay liberation movements. One of the problems with so many of the investigations into the 1960s is that, too often, the writers are conservatives who have no interest in the possibilities of change.
Everyone knows that the times have changed. But sometimes it seems as if it's hard to find anyone who will stick up for the 1960s, for the changes that so many of us believed in.
Too many people have been saying that Ted Kennedy's death marks the end of an era. Well, the same thing could be said of Merce Cunningham's death. Or Karl Malden's death. Or Ellie Greenwich's death. Or Dominick Dunne's death. Or Michael Jackson's death.
But there remain a lot of us who continue to live with the ideals from the mid-century, and we're still around.