The exhibition curated by Jens Hoffmann takes on the history and the myths around Harald Szeemann's 1969 exhibition 'When Attitudes Become Form' by bringing together a large group of international contemporary artists that follow, in a number of ways, the legacy of Conceptual art.
When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes takes as its starting point the 1969 exhibition Live In Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form (Works – Concepts – Processes – Situations – Information) presented at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland and curated by Harald Szeemann. When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes includes over 80 international contemporary artists across both the exhibition and catalogue that work within the lineage and language of Conceptual art practices.
Mostly known by its short title, When Attitudes Become Form was an exhibition that brought together new tendencies in the art of its time, known today as post-Minimalism, Arte Povera, Land art and Conceptual art. Although the artists and works included came from diverse points of view, the exhibition did not attempt to assimilate these varying approaches into a singular narrative; rather it allowed the disparities and differences in the artists that were selected to hold and approached these works in terms of a shifting relationship between the artist and artwork, one in which the activity and process of the artist was now prioritized above that of the medium. Szeemann’s own summary of the show’s content was itself lengthy, but it signaled this shift in the relationship of artist, studio and museum: ‘the obvious opposition to form; the high degree of personal and emotional engagement; the pronouncement that certain objects are art, although they have not previously been defined as such; the shift of interest away from the result towards the artistic process; the use of mundane objects; the interaction of work and material; Mother Earth as medium, workplace, the desert as concept.’
Harald Szeemann’s 1969 exhibition has become one of the most legendary shows of the recent past. While the exhibition has since been discussed, researched and examined in a wide range of essays, books and conferences, an investigation into its history and impact has never before been realized in the format of an exhibition. The Wattis’s exhibition will take on the history and the myths around When Attitudes Become Form by bringing together a large group of international contemporary artists that follow, in a number of ways, the legacy of Conceptual art. Just as the original exhibition allowed for a diversity in material approaches, artistic voice, and process, When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes includes a diverse array of contemporary artists who continue to work within a similarly experimental and expansive approach. As When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes considers When Attitudes Become Form as a living past, enlivening and re-imagining its legacy in the current moment, the contemporary artworks will be presented alongside historical documents and representations of Szeemann’s original exhibition.
When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes has been curated by Jens Hoffmann and organized by the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts.
After its presentation in San Francisco, When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit.
Generous support for When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes provided by C. Ross Sappenfield & Laura Brugger, Robin Wright & Ian Reeves, and Laura & Joe Sweeney.
Founding support for CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts programs has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Judy and Bill Timken. General support for the Wattis Institute provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Ann Hatch and Paul Discoe, and the CCA Curator’s Forum
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Reception: Thurs., Sept. 13, 7-9 p.m.
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