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Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s


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Amalgamating the worlds of art and science, Nisbet demonstrates the impossibility of collapsing land art into ecology while making a case for the importance of an evolving lived experience with situated works and with the persistent traces they leave in history through images, films, sounds, and texts. -- Chris Taylor, Director of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University Nisbet's inspiringly capacious conception of the settings for environmental and land art persuades the reader of his hypothesis, which is that the works in question are greatly more open -- conceptually, constitutionally, and communicatively -- than inherited frameworks for understanding them would have us believe. This study perceives afresh how a multidisciplinary crowd of modernist artists achieved constructions that were entirely coextensive with their enclosing environments, be those natural or unnatural. Ecologies, Environments, and Energy Systems in Art of the 1960s and 1970s is remarkably timely, too, for articulating its subjects' far-reaching significance for the challenges of the present moment. -- Darby English, Clark Art Institute James Nisbet narrates the history of American art of the sixties and seventies from an ecological perspective. He suggests that the discussion of art and ecology exceeds the question of art and sustainability, defining 'ecology' not as a closed environment but as an open system of exchanges. He argues that an ecological imaginary theorized by Rachel Carson, Gregory Bateson, and many others was concurrently manifest in a number of aesthetic tendencies -- Kaprow's environments, the process sculpture of Morris and Serra, Haacke's and Barry's conceptualism, the performative activities of Nauman and Oppenheim, and the earthworks of Heizer, Smithson, and De Maria -- in which distinctions between object, gallery and site, process and information, and the body and artwork become porous and blur. His well-researched account sheds new light on these and other practices, and the intellectual and cultural milieu in which they emerged. -- James Meyer, author of Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties

About the Author

James Nisbet is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Irvine.

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