newark-new-jersey

“Off-Limits: Rutgers University and the Avant-Garde, 1957-1963”

Newark Museum

In 1959, when Lucas Samaras was a flamboyant, patchwork-dressed undergrad at Rutgers, his senior thesis show included a concrete poem with the word “Fuck fuck fuck fuck . . .” inscribing a neat square with a concluding “you” appended at the end. Samaras’s brilliantly jejune production resulted in a huge administrative commotion, which led to his teacher Allan Kaprow being passed over for tenure and, in 1961, leaving the school. Such incidents are entirely characteristic of the wild and crazy mood at Rutgers in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Roy Lichtenstein, perhaps under Kaprow’s influence, made his first hand-painted Pop works in 1961 while teaching at Douglass College (Rutgers’s women’s school) and living in Highland Park, New Jersey. The formative viewer-interactive games, assemblages, and subversive proto-Pop and Mail art strategies of Robert Watts and George Brecht (both Rutgers

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