Simon Lee Gallery New York is pleased to present Towards Infinity: 1965-1980, an exhibition of major works conceived by artists from across the international scope of the Conceptual art movement, with special focus on the period between 1965 and 1980. During the 1960s and 1970s a disillusionment with pervasive movements in art and the influence of radical European theoretical thought inspired a re-evaluation of long-held attitudes towards formal and material conventions. Taking its title from Giovanni Anselmo’s seminal work of the same name, Verso l’infinito (1969), the exhibition explores the dematerialization of the art object and the dismantling of concepts that had bolstered the definition and context of traditional art-making well into the 20th century. Working across a wide range of media, including photography, film, video, performance and installation, the artists in the exhibition all demonstrated an anti-hierarchical approach to both subject and material that positioned the idea first and form second. All the works presented adhere to the fundamental premise put forward by Anselmo’s Verso l’infinito, challenging the constructs of time and space to create an art that is at once forward-looking, in flux and without limits.
The years between 1965 and 1980 marked a period of major social and political upheaval, including significant civil unrest and global conflict – not least the intensification and ultimate conclusion of the Vietnam War. Conceptual art offered socio-political critique via an interrogation of traditional forms of representation. The 1969 exhibition, When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern, curated by Harald Szeemann and the publication of Lucy Lippard’s book, Six Years: The dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972 four years later in 1973 indicated a sea change in artists’ approaches to the role of their medium in society. Leaving behind the tabula rasa of Minimal art, across Europe and America a diverse stable of artists developed distinct yet related practices that were critical of the very nature of art and that prioritized process over the completed art object.