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Art of Engagement takes the first comprehensive look at the key role of California's art and artists in politics and culture since 1945. Tracing the remarkably fertile confluence of political agitation and passionately engaged art, Peter Selz leads readers on a journey that begins with the Nazi death camps and moves through the Bay Area's Free Speech Movement of 1964, the birth of Beat and hippie countercultures, the Chicano labor movement in the San Joaquin Valley, the beginning of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, and some of the most radical manifestations of the women's movement, gay liberation, Red Power, and environmental activism. It also deals with artists' responses to critical issues such as censorship and capital punishment. Selz follows California's outpouring of political art into the present with responses to September 11 and the war in Iraq.
In the process, Selz considers the work of artists such as Robert Arneson, Hans Burkhardt, Jerome (Caja), Enrique Chagoya, Judy Chicago, Llyn Foulkes, Rupert García, Helen and Newton Harrison, Wally Hedrick, Suzanne Lacy, Hung Liu, Peter Saul, Miriam Schapiro, Allan Sekula, Mark di Suvero, Masami Teraoka, and Carrie Mae Weems. Abundantly illustrated and beautifully produced, Art of Engagement showcases many types of media, including photographs, found objects, drawings and prints, murals, painting, sculpture, ceramics, installations, performance art, and collage. Readers will come away from the book with a historical sense of the significant role California has played in generating political art and also how the state has stimulated politically engaged art throughout the world.
Copub: San Jose Museum of Art
Prologue: Countering Cultures: The California Context
Introduction: Paths to Engagement
1. Against War and Violence
2. Countercultural Trends
3. Human Rights and Ethnic and Gender Identity
4. Toward a Sustainable Earth
List of Illustrations
Posted November 27, 2005
Each year there are increasing numbers of fine 'catalogues', beautifully designed and illustrated and written to accompany museum and gallery exhibitions. That major book publishing companies are paying attention to the arts in this way is gratifying indeed. But when a book of such insight and scholarship and content such as ART OF ENGAGEMENT: VISUAL POLITICS IN CALIFORNIA AND BEYOND appears on the scene, it raises the entire issue of 'accompanying catalogues' to a new level. Peter Selz has created a volume of a topic that is pertinent not only to California art (though that in and of itself is rewarding in seeing the West Coast as pioneer in art form!), it is equally important to the examination of the influence art has had in response to and in alerting the public to the vagaries and contagions of political and social issues. Selz surveys California art from 1945 to the present and in doing so addresses such issues as the genocide atrocities of WW II as recalled by artists, the development of the Bay Area and beyond Beat generation, ethnic and racial issues involving the Chicano migrant worker struggles, the Black Panther movement, Feminism, Gay Crises and Pride, and philosophical/political issues such as capital punishment, environmentalism, free speech, censorship and all the tangential issues that accompany them. The writing is probing, challenging, disturbing, uplifting and ultimately reinforcing the concept that artists are often the passionate spokesmen for the silent masses. The artists responding to these issues are drawn from a large pool, that group including Hans Burkhardt, Robert Arneson, Enrique Chagoya, Judy Chicago, Llyn Foulkes, Rupert Garcia, Helen and Newton Harrison, Wally Hedrick, Suzanne Lacy, Hung Liu, Peter Saul, Miriam Schapiro, Allan Sekula, Mark di Suvero, Masami Teraoka, and Carrie Mae Weems. The reproductions of these powerful works are superb and the running commentary and information about the artists that accompany the images is first class. Not only paintings are represented, but also photography, murals, sculpture, performance art, drawings, installations - almost every manner or artistic statement. This is a singularly powerful book and should be up for many awards - for content, for the exhibition it represents, and for the documentation of the immense importance California art has had on the public's awareness of political change. Highly Recommended. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.