Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era

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University of California Press, 2009 - Art - 282 pages
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"It stands to reason that art works are made by art workers, but in this searching account of artistic labor in the 1960s and 1970s, Julia Bryan-Wilson shows us that reason is supplanted by ambivalence and ambiguity as artists grappled with the massive upheavals wrought by feminism, the student movement, and the Vietnam War. The art made in the wake of these social transformations toggles between reform and revolution, and the definition of 'artist' has not been the same since."--Helen Molesworth, Houghton Curator of Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museum

"In this engaging history of the Art Workers' Coalition, Julia Bryan-Wilson considers the dilemmas and contradictions as well as the artistic innovation and activism that resulted when 'artist' and 'worker' were brought into conjunction at a volatile moment in the late 1960s. Carl Andre in blue coveralls, Robert Morris driving a forklift, Hans Haacke polling gallery-goers, Lucy Lippard delivering her art reviews right after delivering her baby--to such iconic images and moments Bryan-Wilson brings her thorough scholarship and keen analysis."--Douglas Crimp, author of On the Museum's Ruins

"In Julia Bryan-Wilson's deeply researched and insightful Art Workers, episodes that had seemed familiar and safely filed away take on a new narrative drive, a more profound salience for contemporary art practice, and a greater weight in our historical understanding of a crucial period."--Thomas Crow, author of The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent

"This brilliant, vital, and timely study opens up a view of 1960s and 1970s American art that we didn't know we needed until we had it. One by one, the remarkably perceptive chapters of Bryan-Wilson's book converge to form a volume in the best tradition of the intellectual and interdisciplinary freedoms that remain the chief legacy of the period. The political lives of makers and objects have a new champion in Bryan-Wilson."--Darby English, author of How to See A Work of Art in Total Darkness

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an outstanding book! very well-written, with a lot of research and archival materials that the author imaginatively engages. the book focuses on artists in the 1960s who played key roles in the important questions that were emerging at this time. julia bryan-wilson traces this emergence brilliantly, and her attention to feminism makes this work stand out against many other texts written about this period. her argument has all kinds of repercussions for thinking about all the many conjunctions of art and activism today. immensely valuable! 


From Artists to Art Workers I
Carl Andres Work Ethic I
Robert Morriss Art Strike I

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About the author (2009)

Julia Bryan-Wilson is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine.

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