PRINT November 1975

On Contemporary Primitivism

ONE CAN SEE THAT “THE ’60s” have taken on a symbolic meaning against which certain contemporary artists are reacting. As a symbol, “the ’60s” refers to a short period—roughly 1963–1968—when the orthodoxies of color field painting were constantly challenging and being challenged by the orthodoxies of Minimalism.

Toward the end of the decade, there was a variety of reactions against coolness and rationality. Most of them had counterparts outside the art world. The late-’60s revival of painterly painting was guided as much by “youth culture’s” taste for amorphous color as by memories of first-generation New York abstraction. Natural, “unprocessed” materials began to appear in the work of certain young artists at a time when widespread ecological concerns were leading to rural communes and an ideal of organic purity. Both in and outside the art world, a deep suspicion of Western technology—and

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