“I picked the ’60s because of the strength in our collection,” Smith explains. “In the ’60s, under museum director Thomas Colt, the museum was actively collecting. One-half of what’s in our exhibit was collected in the decade it was made.” Colt, who headed the DAI from 1957 until he retired in 1975, also helped organize and served on the Ohio Arts Council.
So many art movements came out of that decade, says Smith, that the exhibit features a number of significant artistic styles. Abstract expressionism, which had dominated the art world in the 1950s, was eclipsed by Pop Art, which celebrated consumer trends.
The pieces on display also reflect the changing times: the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, women’s equality and gay liberation.
You’ll see the work of well-known artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Gene Davis and Sol LeWitt. Many have Dayton or Ohio connections. Jim Dine, for example, is a Cincinnati native. Aka Pereyma, a longtime resident of Troy, is best known for her amazing ornately decorated Easter eggs featuring patterns that reflected her Ukrainian heritage. She was also a student at the DAI’s former art school.
Jim Dine, Red Felt Boots, 1965, Felt. Collection of the Dayton Art Institute. © 2021 Jim Dine / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Items on display range from Warhol’s iconic “Marilyn” screenprint to Robert Engle’s stoneware “B.B.” (Bridget Bardot.) There’s Congolese cotton dress fabric, Lichtenstein’s set of dinnerware, Dine’s “Red Felt Boots” and Claes Oldenburg’s “Ice Cream Cones” lithograph.
Signs of the times include a Marc Riboud “Peace March,” and Craig Hickman’s archival inkjet print “Robert Kennedy.”
Craig Hickman, Robert Kennedy, 1968, printed 2020, Archival inkjet print. Collection of the Dayton Art Institute.
Credit: CRAIG HICKMAN
Credit: CRAIG HICKMAN
Confused about art styles?
This exhibit provides a terrific opportunity to learn more about a variety of art movements. We asked Jerry Smith to share some defining characteristics of the most prominent and recognizable.
Pop Art focuses on banal, everyday items and pop culture. One of its most recognizable traits is consumer culture. These artists often use mass production techniques such as screenprint.
Figural Art explores the human form. Figural Abstraction also uses the human form, but applies a rough and loose paint application.
Abstract Art typically looks to nature for the initial source of inspiration and then abstracts what is seen or thought about. Non-Objective Abstraction is associated with geometric work and can take many forms. It doesn’t relate to a given subject and stems entirely from the given artist’s imagination.
Color Field was introduced in the 1950s and continued into the 1960s. It’s recognized through color application in flat, large areas, often through staining of unprimed canvas rather than application of paint with a brush. The surface is most often flat.
Op Art, short for “optical art,” is work that relates to optical illusions and the artists working in the style examined the ways lines, shapes and colors can respond when placed next to one another.
Minimalism takes abstraction to its most austere extreme. The art, for example, could be a canvas in a single color.
Conceptual Art places a priority on an idea above the aesthetic qualities of the finished work. It often comes across as cool and impersonal, and in many ways is a continued reaction against the spontaneity of earlier Abstract Expressionism.
The Neo-Dadaists combined appropriation of imagery, collage, a tearing down of aesthetic design and an introduction of items relating to everyday life.
Jack Bush, Nice Pink, 1965, Lithograph in colors, edition 15/100. Collection of the Dayton Art Institute.
But wait, there’s more!
The exhibit’s related programming and activities promise to be a lot of fun. Visitors to the exhibition can channel their inner hippies and pose for selfies in front of a psychedelic background, then scan a QR code to upload their selfies to a digital photo booth that will be shared on the museum’s website and social media.
The “Peace & Love” ARTventure invites families to download and follow along with an art-making guide themed around the subject of love. A Spotify playlist features music from the ’60s.
This exhibit is “far out,” “out of sight” and “groovy.” Enjoy!
HOW TO GO
What: “Changing Times: Art of the 1960s”
Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton
When: Through Sept. 12. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Note that these hours are subject to change so it’s best to check the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Admission: $15 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older, active military and groups, $5 for students with ID and youth ages 7-17, free for children ages 6 and younger and museum members.
More info: www.daytonartinstitute.org
Related programming: A free Curatorial Conversation live via Zoom from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 and Thursday, June 17, and “Draw from the Collection,” a live Zoom program from 3-4 p.m. on Thursday, June 24 and Sunday, June 27 where you’ll join museum educator Matt Burgy for an interactive lesson on Op Art drawing techniques. (Advance registration required for all.)