It was 1970. Abstract-Expressionism had dominated American and world art for almost three decades. For thousands of years before that, art had been pictures on walls and sculptures on pedestals meant to be admired for their beauty. Revolutionary new approaches to art during the 1960s changed all that.
Alec Clayton’s graduate thesis with the academic title A Ground for the New Art: An Alternative to the Frame-Pedestal Aesthetic analyzed the meaning of the new art and the history leading up to it.
In 1917, when Marcel Duchamp placed an ordinary urinal in a gallery and called it “Fountain,” he defended it as legitimate art in a letter stating that “Richard Mutt,” Duchamp’s pseudonym, “took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.”
Mud Flat Press has taken Clayton’s academic thesis, given it a new title, and added an author’s note and afterword to update it with a contemporary point of view without changing his original thesis.
Cover photo: Teri Bevelacqua working on her billboard at Burning Man. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong.
You can also read reassessing “the new art” by Alec Clayton, June 4, 2020.