Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body

Overview


The year was 1963 and from Birmingham to Washington, D.C., from Vietnam to the Kremlin to the Berlin Wall, the world was in the throes of political upheaval and historic change. But that same year, in New York's Greenwich Village, another kind of history and a different sort of politics were being made. This was a political history that had nothing to do with states or governments or armies--and had everything to do with art. And this is the story that Sally Banes tells, a year in the life of American culture, a...
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Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body

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Overview


The year was 1963 and from Birmingham to Washington, D.C., from Vietnam to the Kremlin to the Berlin Wall, the world was in the throes of political upheaval and historic change. But that same year, in New York's Greenwich Village, another kind of history and a different sort of politics were being made. This was a political history that had nothing to do with states or governments or armies--and had everything to do with art. And this is the story that Sally Banes tells, a year in the life of American culture, a year that would change American life and culture forever. It was in 1963, as Banes's book shows us, that the Sixties really began.
A leading writer on cultural history, Banes draws a vibrant portrait of the artists and performers who gave the 1963 Village its exhilarating force, the avant-garde whose interweaving of public and private life, work and play, art and ordinary experience, began a wholesale reworking of the social and cultural fabric of America. Among these young artists were many who went on to become acknowledged masters in their fields, including Andy Warhol, John Cage, Yoko Ono, Yvonne Rainer, Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, Brian de Palma, Harvey Keitel, Kate Millet, and Claes Oldenburg. In live performance--Off-Off Broadway theater, Happenings, Fluxus, and dance--as well as in Pop Art and underground film, we see this generation of artists laying the groundwork for the explosion of the counterculture in the late 1960s and the emergence of postmodernism in the 1970s. Exploring themes of community, freedom, equality, the body, and the absolute, Banes shows us how the Sixties artists, though shaped by a culture of hope and optimism, helped to galvanize a culture of criticism and change. As 1963 came to define the Sixties, so this vivid account of the year will redefine a crucial generation in recent American history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the oblique subtitle, this is an engaging piece of cultural history and analysis. Banes ( Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance ) declares 1963 a watershed year, the peak of the transition between the 1950s and 1960s. The avant-garde neighborhood of Greenwich Village produced ``the first generation of postmodern artists,'' mixing vanguard and popular culture. Banes offers a genealogy of the neighborhood, then shows how art and arts institutions like the Living Theater helped reconstitute community there. Her approach is thematic: she explores avant-garde artists' appropriation of folkloric techniques and suggests that choreographers like Yvonne Rainer and artists like Andy Warhol mirrored the ``equalizing impulse of the Sixties'' in their work. She discusses the impact of growing racial consciousness on an art world in flux, and shows how American art became caught up in Cold War cultural competition with the Soviets. Most interesting is her analysis of how, during a time when American culture began to liberate the body, artists led the way with portrayals of the ``effervescent body''--concerned with eating, excretion, birth and death. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822313915
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Banes, Professor of Theater History and Dance History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the author of Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance, and co-author of Fresh: Hip Hop Don't Stop.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Another Space 13
2 The Reinvention of Community 33
3 Which Culture? 81
4 Equality 109
5 Dreaming Freedoms 137
6 The Body Is Power 189
7 The Anxiety of the Absolute 235
Notes 257
Index 291
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